MSCS Steve Karoly (r) of NMCB 17, June 1994

In Association with

Search Now:
In Association


contact | bibliography | recent additions

The Online Information Source for American Military Cooks and Bakers

We call ourselves "The online information source for American military cooks and bakers." That means you've come to the right place for information on food services of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.

It doesn't matter if you're interested in who won the Ney award this year, or you just need the recipe for Chipped Beef on Toast -- that's the "official" name for SOS -- so you can feed your reenactment unit an authentic, time-honored military breakfast, is the place. If the cooks and bakers served it, you'll find it here. (But please, if you don't get your question answered, please write.)

What we're all about
Six entrees fill the SeabeeCook menu. They cover every aspect of military food service. Here's the menu:

  • Cooks and Bakers -- They're the "unsung heroes" of the services, according to May 1995 Soldiers Magazine article. These are the men and women who'd turn out of the sack at oh-dark-thirty to start breakfast for a hungry crew. Many times, they turn out the lights and lock the back door 'till well into the evening. In today's terms, it's a 24-7 job.

  • Cookery -- Millions of service men and women have this love-hate relationship with military cookery. When stacked up against Mom, the cooks lost. But, manuals like The Cook Book of the United States Navy and The Manual for Army Cooks taught thousands of cooks and bakers the trade. Where do you think Burt Baskin of the Baskin-Robbins team got his start? Just peruse the Bibliography and you'll be amazed at the wealth of information on menu planning, recipes and cooking.

  • Equipment -- Did you know Army mess halls still used its coal-fired no. 5 range into the fifties? And the Navy, known for having banks of coppers --that's the Navy term for steam-jacketed kettles -- on ships from sleek destroyers to powerful battleships, outfitted a hundred small galleys in England and France with oil-burning stoves? That ubiquitous "US," once stamped on everything from the no. 56 dipper to the 60-quart stock pot, has gone the way of "value engineering." That means more and more commercial products like the new insulated food container.

  • Rations -- No longer are terms like bully beef and canned cow part of the serviceman's lexicon. Like everything else in American life, they've gone the way of the meat grinder and the rendering pot. Except for operational rations like MREs, tray packs and some stuff called "mobility enhancing ration components," the general messes (and the clubs as well) are supplied by prime vendors. That means service men and women get the same food that the big restaurant chains use. It doesn't look like future commanders-in-chief will have to issue a presidential pardon for any item in the military's larder. President Eisenhower's absolution of Hormel for sending too much Spam overseas may be the only time our nation's chief executive exercised such powers.

  • Sanitation -- How many out there remember pulling K.P. duty in the company mess hall? Or mess cooking in the galley? It's dirty work. But, as the old saying goes, "Somebody's got to do it." These are the guys and gals who made up for the cooks carelessness -- the more pots and pans the cook used, the longer they scraped burnt-on crud from the sides of roasting pans and fished for silver ware in a greasy sink with life-less suds. Now the pendulum has swung to the side of the environmentalists: The ocean is no longer the dumping ground of the U.S. Navy. And everything Army and Marine cooks throw into the ground is filtered, re-filtered and filtered again.

  • Today's Cooks -- Well, we're back to those "unsung heroes again. After serving our nation since the battle cry of Concord and Lexington, today's cooks and bakers -- now given titles like "food service specialist" and "mess management specialist" -- are out there "holding down the fort" on two fronts: They are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines first. Army and Marine cooks become expert infantrymen. Navy and Coast Guard cooks are first sailors. And Air Force cooks fall into a unique occupational field called "services" -- that translates into running mortuary teams in combat. Feeding the troops is, at times, their secondary mission.

How you can help
Log in often. Keep coming back. And drop a note or two.

We'll be adding new articles each month. But please remember that it'll take a few months for to proof into that golden brown loaf of bread you remember so well. (Ever wondered why the baker had so much company in the galley on the mid-watch?) We have a wealth of material -- over 200 military cookbooks and food service manuals adorn SeabeeCook's bookshelves -- from which to draw articles. But we need more.

So that's where you come in. We can use your help. If you're a former military cook or baker or were part of the vast pool of critics the cooks had, we'd love to hear what you have to say. We need your stories and your pictures.

But maybe the most important contribution you can make will come in the form of the memorabilia. Pictures, menus, recipes and the like will make stand out among the hundreds of veteran's web sites. We can make arrangements over coffee and email. (Although, I prefer to scan materials myself, other arrangements can be made.)

Just who is this SeabeeCook?
So you're wondering, "Just who is this guy, anyway?"

Well, here's your answer:

As the moniker implies, I spent the largest part of my naval career as a cook in the Seabees.... (Continued)

P.S. -- In case you're wondering where all these great photographs came from, they're Seabee photographs, as you might guess. But as time moves on, we'll be featuring more photographs and memorabilia from all of the services.

Bulletin Board Keyword Search
Bookstore Links
About Us Recent Additions
About us

Seabees of the Navy