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Sigonella Sailors Cook Up Training, Savings

By JO3 Sarah Urban

NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, SICILY - The Sailors working in Naval Air Station Sigonella's galley found a way to save the Navy more than $125,000 and 1,400 man-hours recently, all while learning about Italian cooking and culture. With only 12 American and eight Italian cooks at the galley, culinary training is difficult, according to Mess Management Specialist First Class Charles Platt, the galley's leading petty officer.

"We are about six people short as a division," Platt said. "And for every person I send away to school, three other people who have to take over for them, because most of us have two or three jobs."

Bringing a chef to the students was a logical move to remedy the situation. The chef, Sergio Zanetti, graduated from and is currently an instructor at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF), located in Northern Italy. According to Zanetti, culinary specialists travel from all over the world to attend this school.

"Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Chinese and Korean come to learn Italian recipes," Zanetti said.

Zanetti began as a culinary teacher about one year ago. Before that he worked as a chef in Italian restaurants in Milan, Turin, Istanbul and France.

Since his arrival in Sigonella, Zanetti has held two two-hour cooking sessions a day. He teaches the students how to make pesto, hors d'oeuvres, pasta, salad, meat and fish dishes the Italian way, which means with lots of olive oil. The students were also given the chance to cook and taste the food themselves.

Petty Officer Platt explained the value of Zanetti's visit to Sigonella. "We are using our facilities and equipment instead of using materials and equipment we seldom or never use," he said. "Plus the students are more at ease being on their own turf."

Zanetti said he enjoys teaching because he gets to meet new people and take in the different cultures everywhere he goes. "It's really interesting," said MS1 Anita Young. "We got to learn why the Italians do things the way they do."

In the end, Platt said it was extremely beneficial to have Zanetti in Sigonella. "Our biggest job here is to take care of Sig and the tenant commands, with a smile and a nice galley," he said. "By saving money this way, we have more money to put back into improving the galley."

Navy Europe News Service story 20-98, dated May 20, 1998.

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