Support: February 7, 2004

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Food has always been a serious issue with navies. Historically, poor, or non-existent food on warships was often the cause of mutinies. But in the last century, navies have come to realize that good food makes happier and more effective sailors. The U.S. Navy has steadily improved its food since World War II, and found this angle to be an important one in recruiting the people they need in a competitive labor market. Along those lines, the navy recently changed the job title of its galley (kitchen) workers from "mess management specialist" to "culinary specialist." Civilians may get a chuckle out of this, but sailors know that most of the 10,000 "culinary specialists" go out of their way to prepare meals and munchies that the crew will like. The name change also reflects the navys attempt to get its food up to the quality of high end civilian restaurants and caterers. To this end, the navy has been sending hundreds of its senior culinary specialists to civilian schools, like the world class Culinary Institute of America. Navy culinary specialists tend to cook a much wider variety of foods than civilian chefs. In addition to regular meals; snacks and fast food are also prepared because the navy, especially on ships, is a 24/7 operation. Someone is always looking for a meal. The culinary specialists are facing a major change with the next generation of ships, because of much smaller crews (under a hundred sailors.) This will mean more pre-cooked and TV-Dinner like foods, simply because there will be fewer people in a smaller crew to run the galley. These smaller crews will still expect high quality food, but at least they will be in a good mood because the smaller ships will have much roomier living quarters for everyone.

Unlike civilian chefs, however, culinary specialists on ships all have battle stations. When the ship goes into combat, the culinary specialists become part of firefighting and damage control teams. They regularly train for this duty, which at least breaks up the routine of being in the galley every day.

 


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