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Pancake lessons for Navy trainees

9 February 2016
Trainee Royal Navy chefs learning their skills at HMS Raleigh have been practising the art of turning the humble pancake into a delicious pudding, ahead of this year’s Shrove Tuesday.

The team of trainees were taught the art of making Crêpes Suzette by their instructors; a classic French recipe using sugar, orange juice and a hint of Cointreau.

Leading Chef Andy Durham, one of the instructors at the Defence Maritime Logistics School (DMLS), whose job it is to teach the trainees, said:  “At sea we’ll sometimes serve pancakes as a breakfast extra and particularly on Pancake Day the lads and lasses would be very disappointed if they didn’t get any pancakes. 

“We’ll make in the region of about 300 at sea using about 300 eggs, 10 kilos of flour and six gallons of milk.  

At sea the kitchens can be functioning for 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, but it’s good fun.

Leading Chef Stevie Stokoe

“The trick to making pancakes is to get a thin, smooth batter and be quick.  Personally my favourite is the Crêpe Suzette that the trainees have been making because of the lovely orange flavour.”

Royal Navy chefs undergo a 26-week course at the DMLS, based within HMS Raleigh. 

The course is designed to prepare them to join a team at sea providing nutritious meals for the Ship’s Company. 

Leading Chef Stevie Stokoe, another of the instructors said:  “We take trainees from aged 16 all the way through to late 30s.

“In the first 15 weeks we teach them the basics of bread, sauces, desserts, butchery and fish preparation and then hopefully we get them to the point where they can go out and cook for up to 1,500 people. 

“A similar course would take up to two years in a civilian college.  Here it’s pretty intense and the students learn a lot in a short space of time. 

“At sea the kitchens can be functioning for 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, but it’s good fun.  Being a chef in a restaurant or hotel the job will always be the same. 

“Being on a ship thousands of miles away from land, trying to make the meals fresh is a challenging thing to do and makes the job really interesting. 

“Anyone can make fine-dining food in a restaurant but for us it’s about making quality food with the stores available to us.”

Images by Dave Sherfield

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