Mobile Bay, Vincennes Exchange Cooks at
Lt. j.g. John Pickett
ABOARD USS MOBILE BAY, WESTERN PACIFIC -- Cooks from USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) had an opportunity to show off their culinary talents recently, by conducting a mess management specialist (MS) exchange and cook-off with cooks from another cruiser, USS Vincennes (CG 49), while enroute to Okinawa, Japan.
Capt. Edward J. Rogers, commanding officer of Mobile Bay, wanted to give his MS's a break from their normal underway routine and a chance to put their skills in the spotlight.
A plan was developed to take one mess management specialist from each ship and have them supervise the preparation of their best recipes on the other ship. The plan also included a cookie exchange and taste test during a highline transfer the following day.
Mess Management Specialist 1st Sammy Beauchamp, from Coleman, Tex., was selected to be Mobile Bay's representative aboard Vincennes. Beauchamp was transferred by helicopter from Mobile Bay to Vincennes. He immediately began supervising the preparation of beef cordon bleu, spicy oven fried fish, and jalapeno cheese cornbread, along with some side dishes. Beauchamp said he chose these particular menu items because they were popular with Mobile Bay Sailors.
After his meal was served to the "forty-niner diners," a phrase used to refer to a Vincennes' food service customer, Beauchamp conducted training on expanding on a Navy recipe to enhance flavor. The goal of his training was, as he described, "to show ways to bring a taste of home to Navy food service."
"It opens up new ideas so that both ships can learn from each other for overall improvement," said Beauchamp. "I enjoyed the exchange very much."
Meanwhile, Vincennes’ MS, Chief Mess Management Specialist Bryan A. Smith of Miami, visited Mobile Bay. Smith supervised the preparation of some of his best recipes, which included shrimp creole, "Vincennes chili", macaroni salad and cheese biscuits. He was impressed with the spirit of teamwork in the Mobile Bay galley and was pleased when the meal was able to come together with only two hours of preparation.
After the meal Smith gave training on the use of spices, herbs, and flavorings to enhance overall food flavor, a technique he learned first-hand in a city famous for its culinary works.
"My best MS experience was two years of shore duty in New Orleans," said Smith." Cajun cooking has a lot of flavor to it, and that is where I learned about spices and flavoring."
Smith was grateful for the chance to have the exchange, and also enjoyed the crossover.
"MS's are a different breed and here we can learn from one another," he said. "This was a great opportunity for everyone to get some cross-training."
The exchange was followed the next day by the cookie contest. Each ship prepared about 300 of its best chocolate chip cookies for transfer to the other ship via highline, which requires one ship to take station alongside the other with only about 170 feet of lateral separation.
As Vincennes made its approach alongside Mobile Bay, Rogers had Boatswain's Mate 3rd Randie M. Hylton, of Brooklyn, N.Y., welcome the Vincennes with the following announcement over the loudspeaker: "On board USS Vincennes, good afternoon and welcome alongside the U.S. Navy's best cookie shop. You are about to receive a highline from the Navy's finest boatswain's mates. Standby to receive my shotlines both forward and aft."
After the trade was completed, the participants from each ship enjoyed the cookies exchanged. Mess management specialists got to enjoy the spotlight and the crews of both Mobile Bay and Vincennes were able to enjoy some special courses made up for the occasion.
A U.S. 7th Fleet new story, dated July 7, 1999.