Hot competition in the field kitchen
It may be a cold and windy June but Royal Navy and Royal Marine chefs have been feeling the heat today as they battled it out in a field kitchen cook-off at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth.
The 8 three-man teams were tasked with producing 2 main meals and two desserts for 20 hungry personnel from a ten man ration pack and a small selection of fresh produce.
Using the limited equipment that would be available to them in the field they had 3 hours from start to finish to come up with something that was creative, tasty and well-presented.
The top 4 teams of Commando Logistic Regiment, 45 Commando and two teams from 30 Cdo – are be put forward to the annual tri-Service cookery competition, Exercise Joint Caterer, at the end of September where they will represent the Naval Service.
Warrant Officer 2 Nevill Kay, Royal Marines Catering Officer, said:
“It is all about teamwork and working together. They are constantly trying to raise their skills and the idea is to get the team bonding while in a competitive environment and using limited rations and equipment.
“They can do this type of cooking at any time anywhere in the world from the heat in Afghanistan to the cold of Norway. They do have to think creatively while also ensuring that they provide the nutritional content necessary to keep these guys gong in the field.
“It is a very skilful job – these field ovens have four temperature settings – cold, warm, hot and very hot so it is all about timing and trying to gauge everything so it is perfectly cooked.”
Competition entries came from Commando Training Centre (CTCRM) in Lympstone, 40 Commando from Taunton, two teams from Plymouth-based 30 Cdo, another from 42 Cdo and Commando Logistic Regiment and finally the two Scotland-based teams of 43 and 45 Cdo.
Although mainly made up of Royal Marine chefs, there are Royal Navy chefs attached to the units who are also expected to maintain the same standard of military duties as their green beret counterparts.
“The menu must be that of an everyday meal acceptable to personnel of any rank and of competition standard,” added WO2 Kay. “Teams have really tried hard to come up with a range of different choices.”
Ranging from chicken curries with fragrant india rice to pizzas made from scratch and presented with salad in takeaway boxes to chocolate covered doughnuts and fishcakes with roasted vegetables – the teams pulled out all the stops to produce prize-winning food. Yet the overall winning team of 30 Commando Group Base, from Plymouth were presented with first prize for their menu of Thai-infused chicken cake with a chilli, lime and coriander crust served with a parcel of aromatic nut fried rice and a hot and sour dip.
Their second choice was a Cajun steaklet stuffed with melted cheese served on a fresh, crusty petit pan with a stack of Cajun farmhouse wedges with a sour cream dip and vinaigrette dressed salad.
Dessert consisted of a chocolate and strawberry gateaux rolled in sweet roasted nuts served with fresh strawberries and chocolate ganache and a pineapple and raspberry tartlet with a roasted ginger crumble topping served with a Crème Anglaise and rippled with raspberry coulis.
30 Cdo Team Captain, Able Seaman Daniel Garlick – a Royal Navy chef – said they were delighted with their win.
“We have been practising that menu for about a month,” he said.
“We knew it would be a really high standard of food here today so we are really pleased that we won – cooking that from a ration pack is really tough. It forces you to think outside the box and really think about the ingredients you have and what you can do with them.”
The best chef was judged to be Chef David Smith of Commando Logistic Regiment who won the title of Best Supporting Chef.