Navy Set for Culinary Revolution at Sea
posted by Jack Beresford | 06.07.2012
Plans are afoot to introduce an improved range of meals for US navy officers on a fleet-wide scale - with a new focus on providing dishes that are healthy and taste good.
Chief culinary specialist Thomas McNulty has been tasked with whipping up a solution, after senior officials expressed their eagerness for the armed forces to move with the times and produce more meals from scratch, rather than using frozen stock.
The perception of healthy eating among young males has also changed, with a growing focus on watching what you eat and the quality of the ingredients involved.
Meanwhile, increasing interest in fine cuisine - helped by the rise of celebrity chefs in the media - has also seen those in the Army and Navy develop more refined palates when it comes to what they eat.
Navy Food Revolution
Speaking to the Navy Times, Mr McNulty agreed that the time for change in the forces was now.
"The culinary world has blown up, and I think it's a natural progression that the military and the Navy have seen that we just can't sit in an archaic era," he said.
More is now being expected from culinary specialists in the Navy as a result, with sailors seeking food that offers low fat, cholesterol and calorie levels alongside full flavour.
The result is the recruitment of McNulty to the task, with the chief culinary specialist bringing a wealth of experience to the Navy project, having worked as executive chef for current vice president Joe Biden.
He learnt much of his craft with Seattle-based chef Marcus Dunbar, while working at the five-star Westin Hotel located in the city. McNulty will be hoping to pass his skills and know-how onto the Navy's new breed of onboard chefs, with meals made from scratch in the ship's galley whenever possible.
Chefs from the Hotel Del Coronado in California and culinary experts from luxury hoteliers Hilton and Marriott have also been recruited to provide training sessions in making low-calorie high-quality meals for the Navy, while the Culinary Institute of America is providing support for the forces-wide plans.
Culinary Revolution at Sea
Despite their efforts though, Navy project officer Deb Sisson, who is based at the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Centre in Massachusetts, admitted some corners would still have to be cut in order to ensure the required volume of food is produced.
"The Navy's looking for the right balance of using prepared foods and scratch cooking, prepared foods where it makes sense and scratch where it makes sense," she told the news provider.
The result is a carefully balanced mix of raw and pre-made ingredients that has been referred to as the "speed-scratch" technique, which will still ensure dishes are prepared to strict daily deadlines while maintaining levels of culinary quality.
In addition to improving the menu, plans are also in place to introduce new refrigeration technology to aircraft carriers that could see fruit and vegetables stay fresh for longer. Set to be trialled on two vessels, the Navy's ongoing culinary revolting appears to be moving ahead at a rate of knots.