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Nestles Chefs Cook Up Recipe for Success on USS Tarawa

By USS Tarawa Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NWS) -- A recent visit by two professional chefs to USS Tarawa (LHA 1) has given the crew more reason to look forward to meal times.

The two chefs from the Nestles food service company came aboard the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship for five days to demonstrate innovative methods for improving meals. They tutored the cooks and food service attendants on how to better ready and present prepared meals, according to 
Tarawa's food service officer Lt. j.g. Jeff Sotingco.

"They taught us how to spruce up the food on the chow line and enhance the flavor as well as the appearance of the food," said Sotingco, whose division is currently conducting a Navy test program for prepared meals.

The chefs, whose visit was sponsored by Navy Supply Systems Command, brought their considerable culinary backgrounds from Europe to Tarawa's galley.

"We showed the cooks various skills of the kitchen to help them adapt to modern equipment," said Nestles corporate executive chef Juerg Wismer. "We wanted to teach them how to gain time while upgrading the quality of what they produce."Wismer, a certified pastry chef from Switzerland with 
over 26 years of experience, and Italian-born Roberto Gerometta worked extensively with the galley crew.

"They taught some interesting ways to prepare vegetables that I had never considered before," said MSSN Patric Hawks. 

"For example, we used to boil vegetables in the huge copper pots, then take them directly to the food service line. The chefs showed us how to add the juice from cooked meat to bring out the flavor of the vegetables. Afterwards, I was impressed how great they tasted."

Wismer and Gerometta also brought their unique brand of culinary magic to the ship's bake shop, where they whipped up new desserts from readily available ingredients. With a sprinkle of chocolate here or a swirl of glazing there, the chefs showed the bakers how to turn ordinary cakes into pastry showpieces.

"I learned how to liven up the desserts," said MSSN Markus Ramirez, who added that one of his creations, a gelatin-covered fruitcake, had already received the crew's unofficial seal of approval. "We served it once, and it went just like that," he said with a snap of his fingers.

Some of the new concoctions prepared by Tarawa's cooks under the supervision of the Nestles chefs had the crew talking for several days afterwards.

"The brownies with the strawberry topping were the best," said SN Jeffrey Lewis. "Overall, I thought the food was the best it's ever been."

"I loved the cake with the Butterfinger frosting," said DC2 Andrew Davis. "I must have put on 10 pounds when they brought that out."

Taste won over the crew, but good old-fashioned efficiency sold the food service officer on the success of the visit. Said Sotingco, "Having the chefs on board helped our cooks and food service attendants prepare better meals for the crew, and hopefully it helped make their job in the galley a little easier."

Navy Mews Wire story NWS14jul-10, dated July 14, 2000.

August 2000

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