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Royal Navy and US Navy join forces for culinary battle

7 October 2016
Royal Navy and US Navy chefs and stewards are putting the final touches to their culinary creations as they prepare to take on the Army and the Royal Air Force.

The Naval Service Culinary Arts Team (NSCAT) in partnership with the US Navy, are currently practising at HMS Raleigh ahead of annual Armed Forces culinary competition, using the facilities at the Defence Maritime Logistics School (DMLS).

 The event is known as Exercise Joint Caterer and takes place next week (11 – 13 October) at the Defence Capability Centre (DCC), Shrivenham. 

Harnessing the rivalry that exists between the three Services, Exercise Joint Caterer provides a unique opportunity for Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force personnel to further hone their craft skills, compete at the highest level and demonstrate to the wider military community what a fantastic asset they are.

The NSCAT is captained by Chief Petty Officer Si Geldart, a seasoned competitor, who currently works at Portsmouth Naval Base.   He said: “The team is put together from volunteers from across the Portsmouth, Devonport and Faslane flotillas.

"If we’re lucky we get someone who has competed before. The standard of cooking on board ship is very high, but the competition is a step up again, so to bridge that gap we have to train. It’s just practise, practise over the two weeks we are together.

"Having the Americans with us is a really good thing.  The standard they bring is really up there.  Our guys can learn from that and it’s vice versa really, they can also learn from us.  We’ve got a good team this year and I pretty confident we’ll do well.”  

 

We’ve got a good team this year and I pretty confident we’ll do well.

Chief Petty Officer Si Geldart

Royal Navy and US Navy chefs have developed a close relationship in recent times and this will be the second year that US Navy personnel have been involved in the competition. 

Petty Officer Frida Karani is leading the US contingent of eight.  She said:  “We’re hoping and praying that we all medal.  That’s the reason why we are here.

"Gold medal or not, we are trying to learn something out of the experience of coming here, working with the Royal Navy and also food wise, to broaden our spectrum.”

"The Blue Ribbon event is the Parade de Chef which will see a team of five chefs and two assistants serve up a three-course meal for 84 from scratch in just six hours.  

"Leading Chef Stevie Stokoe, an instructor at the DMLS, is in charge of the team.  He said:  “I’ve tried to put together a menu based on Northern heritage, so a bit of nostalgia. 

"The main feature is beef cheek with potato dauphinoise.  The hardest part is getting everything looking and tasting exactly the same takes; it takes a fair bit of practise. 

"At the competition you’ve literally got your head down and before you know it it’s 12.00. The youngest member of my team only came out of training six months ago, but she’s got a very keen eye for detail, which is what you need for a pastry chef.

"It’s been a lot of long hours so far and tired heads, but we’re going into it with optimism.”

Steward (Std) Kirsty Rugg is one of the first-time competitors.  The 24-year-old only joined the Service 16 months ago and is currently assigned to the Royal Navy’s new Aircraft Carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. 

She is entered into two categories; the cook and serve working alongside two chefs and the junior steward during which she’ll be required to serve a continental breakfast in 20 minutes. 

Std Rugg said:  “Practise is going well.  I’m a little bit nervous.  It’s my first competition, but I think it’s good to get out there, see what it’s like and broaden my skills.”

In total around 500 Service chefs, stewards and caterers will compete in the event across two live theatres, a Field Catering area, a Parade de Chefs, the Defence Influence Challenge and a variety of display classes.

The aim is to challenge personnel and to demonstrate the ways in which military caterers can support operational commanders while continuing to contribute to the morale component of fighting power. 

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