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Devonport Royal Navy chefs and stewards go head-to-head

26 May 2016
A team from HMS Ocean have taken the top prize in a competition which saw chefs and stewards from Devonport based ships go head-to-head in the kitchen.

Teams from three ships took part in the annual Devonport Flotilla Cook and Serve competition, held at the Defence Maritime Logistics School, within HMS Raleigh. 

The competition aims to develop the imagination and innovation of junior members of the logistics branch and introduce them to the high pressure arena of competition catering.

Each team consisted of two chefs and one steward, who were challenged to cook and serve a three course meal for two diners in just 80 minutes, while also impressing a panel of judges.

Taking part in the competition was a real experience and a bit of an eye opener.

Chef Durstan

HMS Ocean’s winning team served up a starter of salmon cream with egg yolk ravioli with a sweet chilli salsa and basil oil. 

The main course consisted of duck breast on a bed of buttered Savoy cabbage, with a fondant potato, asparagus spears, glazed baton carrots and a balsamic reduction.

For dessert the team produced a ginger and lemon tart served with a summer fruit coulis and Chantilly cream.

Judges award HMS Ocean’s team silver medals and  Best in Class certificates.  Chef Ashleigh Durstan and Chef Jonathan Stiggle were responsible for the winning meal, while Steward Abigail Washington made sure the front of house service was up to scratch.

Chef Durstan joined the Royal Navy in 2013 and has been serving on the ship since 2014.  She said:  “It’s feels amazing to win.  Taking part in the competition was a real experience and a bit of an eye opener. 

“There were a few things that we identified that we need to work on.   The hardest part of the competition was getting the timings right.   Chef Stiggle and I put the menu together with a bit of help from our senior rates on board. 

“We chose pasta for a starter because none of us have really touched it and it shows a bit of skill.  Duck is a nice meat to cook with and you don’t have it on an everyday dish and we thought our dessert would be a nice dish to end with.  

“Overall it was great to have the chance to do a little bit more fine dining.”

Steward Washington said:  “This was our first competition and we didn’t really believe in ourselves, but taking part and winning has given us so much confidence. 

“Now we’re hoping to be in the Navy team to take part in the Tri-service culinary competition, Exercise Joint Caterer, later in the year.”

Other competitors included a team from HMS Monmouth, who were awarded silver medals.  HMS Portland’s team and a second group from HMS Ocean, were awarded bronze.

The judges included Mr Gary Slater, a former Royal Navy Warrant Officer who now works at HMS Raleigh for ESS, a division of Compass Group.  He said:  “I thought all four teams did really well given that it’s the first time they’ve entered anything like this. 

“There were some nerves, but they all overcame them. There’s always areas for improvement, but with the right coaching and mentoring from the team on their ships, any one of them I think, could go on to become members of the Combined Services Culinary Arts team. 

“There was a very high standard here.  I found it right the way through the competition.”

This was the third year that the competition had taken place.  Chief Petty Officer Chris Phelps was one of the organisers. 

He said:  “This competition is to try to give the guys a bit of an insight into competition work.  There are a lot of good chefs and stewards out there in the Fleet, with a lot of skills, and we’re just trying to encourage them to take competition work into a new dimension. 

“Here at the DMLS it’s a less intimidating environment to start out on then at a major competition, so the main point of this is to start them off at this level and let them progress. 

“The competition went really well, the guys put a lot of work in and to see their faces with their medals was great, there was a lot of pride. 

“Hopefully they’ll go back to their units, show-off what they’ve achieved and that’ll encourage more people to get involved in the future.”

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