USA: Celebrity Chef Energizes NAS Jax Flight Line Cafe

Training & Education

Celebrity Chef Energizes NAS Jax Flight Line Cafe

A celebrity chef from the Food Network show, “Restaurant: Impossible,” displayed his cooking prowess at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) Flight Line Cafe, Oct. 24.

With a galley full of resources and a crew of culinary specialists (CS) at his disposal, Robert Irvine set about bringing to life his version on one of the most basic meals, pizza.

The event, sponsored by the NAS Jax Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) and Lighthouse Foods (a company that distributes some of Irvine’s line of foods), was put together as a fun training event for the CSs at the Flight Line Cafe.

“It’s really great to have Chef Irvine here to provide creative training to our crew,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Teresa Culliper, food service officer of the NAS Jax Flight Line Cafe. “Not only is he here to promote training, but he is making a full set of pizzas that will be served for lunch.”

Irvine assigned members of his own cooking crew and other CSs to make homemade pizza dough and sauce. He also took the time to mentor Sailors with his inventive cooking ideas.

“I thought it was a great experience for everyone. It’s exciting to meet such an experienced culinary professional who is also has his own cooking show,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Ray Johnson of the NAS Jax Flight Line Cafe.

As the dough and sauce neared completion, a different twist was applied to the event: a friendly pizza-making competition. Splitting up the CSs into four teams, Irvine briefed the Sailors on the rules.

“From the time you get your pizza dough, you’ll have 30 minutes to come up with an idea for an original pizza. Get creative, but keep it simple. You should be able to come up with something that is both tasty and healthy. I don’t want to see just red sauce, cheese and pepperoni,” Irvine said.

As the Sailors went to work, the tension in the kitchen was high as they rushed to complete their pizza ideas within the allotted time. In the meantime, the Flight Line Cafe assembled a team of four judges, including Irvine, his wife, Gail Kim, President of Lighthouse Foods Billy Hashey and Cmdr. Tom Dailey, FLC executive officer.

Thirty minutes seemed like 10, but each team finished their pizzas with flying colors and presented them to the judge’s panel. As the judges munched on the platters served to them, they evaluated each team based on taste and creativity.

Ultimately, the team from the Naval Station Mayport Oasis Galley claimed first place. The team’s pizza included a combination of spinach, onion, bacon, basil and scrambled eggs, lightly topped with cayenne pepper.

After the awards were presented and Irvine posed for photos with all the CSs who competed.

“I was a cook in the Royal Navy for 10 years, and I know how important what all of you do is to the morale and welfare of the military. Thank you for the effort and hard work, and for the service you provide every day to the men and women who serve with you.”

Naval Today Staff,October 29, 2012; Image: US Navy