HMCS Whitehorse cooks serve up delectable morale meals

The Chief Cook of HMCS Whitehorse serves perogies and sausage to the crew. Photo by Lt (N) Paul Pendergast, Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs Officer

The Chief Cook of HMCS Whitehorse serves perogies and sausage to the crew. Photo by Lt (N) Paul Pendergast, Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs Officer

Lt(N) Paul Pendergast, Operation Caribbe Public Affairs Officer ~

There is an old saying that an army marches on its stomach, and that also is true for the navy.

The daily routine of life at sea for the crews onboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Edmonton and Whitehorse revolves around the galley and meal times.

Both ships are deployed on Operation Caribbe, Canada’s contribution to an international operation to stop illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons, money, and people.

The Chief Cook of Whitehorse, who cannot be identified for operational security reasons, is keenly aware of the critical role he plays in maintaining morale among the 48 members of the crew.

“When people come to the steam line for their meal, you can see their face light up if the food is good, and that puts them in a good mood to carry out their duties for the rest of the day,” said the Chief Cook.

To get that positive reaction, it starts at the beginning with ordering good quality ingredients, inspecting the food carefully on arrival, and storing it properly in the ship’s coolers to maintain inventory control.

“I developed the menu specifically for our crew size, to ensure there is a variety of nutritious and interesting items so people do not get bored with the food,” he adds.

Galley staff in Whitehorse like to “take it up a notch”.

They provide fresh baking daily, including bread, scones, and desserts such as banana bread or cheesecake. A favorite of the crew is the smoothies that are made daily from fresh fruit.

“It is the little things that make a difference,” said the Chief Cook. “Like cooking fresh bacon to use in Caesar salad instead of the packaged type.”

Rough weather adds another layer of difficulty to the job. Anything left on a countertop can end up on the deck, so they have to constantly guard against spillage.

“When it was rough last week, I had to make two half pots of soup instead of one full pot, or it would spill out whenever the ship rolled.”

The Whitehorse galley serves more than 150 meals per day, including extra meals left out for the night watch. For the length of this deployment on Operation Caribbe, that totals more than 10,000 meals. All of this is accomplished in a galley that measures 12 feet by 14 feet, around the same size as a typical home kitchen for a Canadian family.

With 21 years as a navy cook, Whitehorse’s Chief Cook has a deep well of experience and knowledge to draw from. He is also supported by two junior cooks who each have five years of service.

“I am fortunate to have two top performing junior cooks to support me. They know what needs to be done and they just go ahead and do it without being told.”

The feeling is mutual in the Whitehorse galley.

“He is the best Chief Cook I have ever had,” said one of the junior cooks. “He never asks us to do anything he wouldn’t do himself, and he supports us 100 percent in everything we do.”

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