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Carl named best chef in the Navy for his global culinary skills

28 February 2024
Delivering ‘the world on a plate’ to shipmates on HMS Northumberland at mealtimes earned Leading Caterer Carl Tester the title ‘Royal Navy Chef of the Year’.

No matter where the ship has been – chiefly on patrol in the North Atlantic – Carl has endeavoured to bring the world to dinnerplates, drawing upon his skill, imagination and what’s in the frigate’s pantry… although he modestly attributes the success to the team spirit and collective skills of HMS Northumberland’s catering department.

"Being recognised with this award is a huge honour, but it really belongs to the whole galley,” said Carl, who’s originally from Haywards Heath in West Sussex but who now lives in Plymouth with his wife Marianne and daughter Eowyn.

“We always aim to make every meal feel like a piece of home, with mealtimes a highlight of the day, making the lived experience on board a little better.

“It has been a genuine pleasure to share my passion for cooking with everyone who visits the counter."

The 31-year-old joined the Royal Navy nine years ago, cooked for the Queen when she paid her final visit to HMS Ocean and represented the service against the Army and RAF in the culinary arts team.

His passion and skill in the galley particularly came to the fore last year, when Northumberland was heavily engaged on patrols in the North Atlantic – an unforgiving environment and not the easiest place to take on board fresh supplies.

According to his citation: “His global menus bring excitement to meal times, turning them into culinary adventures and breaking the monotony of life at sea.

“His efforts have not just showcased his culinary talents but have also connected the diverse ship’s company through their love of great food.”

Carl being named Royal Navy Chef of the Year really shines a spotlight on the awesome talent we have in the Catering Services Branch.

Fleet Caterer Warrant Officer 1 Carl Neville

His boss aboard Northumberland, Chief Caterer Chief Petty Officer Tim Rowe, said Carl “expertly creates a sense of adventure in his menus, delighting the taste buds of his shipmates with global flavours served in the middle of the ocean.”

Northumberland’s Commanding Officer Commander Will Edwards-Bannon added: “Leading Chef Tester’s contribution has been so much more than the outstanding food he has prepared; his dynamic and engaging leadership within the Galley, across the ship and on the rugby pitch as the ship’s team captain has been critical to sustaining morale on board over the course of a particularly demanding series of operations in the North Atlantic and High North.

“It was typical of him that his first response to learning that he had won this individual award was to praise his team; he is a credit to the ship, his branch and the Royal Navy.”

As well as his Chef of the Year title, Carl is nominated for the Craft Guild of Chefs Public Sector Chef Award, with hopes of being shortlisted for their awards ceremony in June.

He joins Petty Officer Cat Taylor of HMS Trent who was crowned RN Caterer of the Year in January in being put forward for a national award.

“Carl being named Royal Navy Chef of the Year really shines a spotlight on the awesome talent we have in the Catering Services Branch,” said Fleet Caterer Warrant Officer 1 Carl Neville.

“His achievements show us all how mixing passion, creativity, and team effort can boost operational capability through great morale. He is leading the way in continuous improvement and is always aiming to deliver the highest possible standards – even during a Sea State 7 in the North Atlantic.”

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