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Navy team prepare for Armed Forces Masterchef

5 October 2017
Royal Navy chefs and stewards are preparing at HMS Raleigh for the Armed Forces version of MasterChef, which will be held next week.

Members of the Naval Service Culinary Arts Team (NSCAT) are currently practising the dishes they hope will wow the judges at this year’s Exercise Joint Caterer, using the facilities at the Defence Maritime Logistics School.

The annual tri-Service culinary challenge will sees the Royal Navy pit their skills against their opposite numbers in the Army and RAF, in a range of individual and team categories.

The NSCAT will once again be joined by representatives from the US Navy and this year’s team also includes seven from the Royal Navy’s new Aircraft Carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

They include Chef Nicholas Cassidy.  The 21-year-old from Manchester is competing in two events; junior chef of the year and a cook and serve event working alongside another chef from the ship. 

LChef Cassidy said, “Last year I got two bronze medals and I’m going to try to get a silver at least this year. I got an amazing buzz from the competition last time, which made me want to do it again. 

“We’ve got a great team and you learn from them and make new friends. Being on HMS Queen Elizabeth is really good. It’s really busy. The galley is huge.”

I’ve got a lot of confidence in the food, so it’s about it all coming together in the kitchen on the day. That’s the bit we have to get right

Leading Chef Andy Durham, the Parade de Chefs team leader

Last year, the Royal Navy won the gold medal and best-in-class for the Blue Ribbon event, the Parade de Chefs. 

This year the group of five chefs and two assistants will be led by Leading Chef (LChef) Andy Durham, an instructor at the DMLS. A seasoned competitor LChef Durham missed out on last year’s competition because he was competing with the Armed Forces team at the Culinary Olympics.

The Parade team have six hours to produce a three-course meal for 84 people.

LChef Durham, from Torpoint, said:  “The starter is salmon and the main course is lamb and faggots. The whole menu is quintessentially British. We’ve tried to make it reminiscent of everybody’s childhood and the kind of things we were all brought up on with good old fashion vegetables. 

“The dessert contains classic autumnal British fruit, like apples and berries.  I’ve got a lot of confidence in the food, so it’s about it all coming together in the kitchen on the day.  That’s the bit we have to get right.”

Now in its 17th year Joint Caterer runs from Tuesday 10 October to Thursday 12 October at the Defence Capability Centre, Shrivenham. The competition is aimed at developing culinary skills as well as building team spirit. Awards are given according to creativity, workmanship, composition and presentation – including taste.

The NSCAT is drawn from ships and submarines from across the Fleet with new talent identified through the three flotilla culinary competitions held in Devonport, Faslane and Portsmouth.

Chief Petty Officer Si Geldart is the overall team Captain for the second year running, while CPO Oliver Sim is leading the front-of-house competitors.

CPO Geldart said:  “We have about 40 competitors this time, including the Royal Marines field cooking team and six Americans. The flotilla competitions have been a massive help. Ideally we’d like the winner of each flotilla to come forward to compete, but for operational reasons that’s not always possible. 

“For example we had a team from HMS Ocean down to take part, but they had to pull out because the ship is busy providing aid in the Caribbean. We have a couple of stars in our team, who I think are going to go places and do well. 

“LChef Durham’s experience is massive and I think we have as good a chance as any of doing well in the Parade again. We have a smaller team than the Army and the RAF, but as team captain I’m obviously hoping that we will win.”

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