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Submarine chefs sink their teeth into Ga. culinary arts program. (faculty lounge).

KINGS BAY NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE, Ga. -- Fresh vegetables, fruit and milk last about three weeks on a Trident nuclear submarine. That means sailors are stuck with canned and frozen food on the 70day patrols.

But a cooking school at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base is making underwater meals more digestible--and sometimes even gourmet.

"I believe we have the best food in the Navy, bar none," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacabo Garza, who prepares meals aboard the USS Wyoming. Brad Duffell has been training Navy cooks at Kings Bay since the program started in 2000.

"The Navy is big on nutrition and sanitation, but they don't teach a lot of cooking techniques." said Duffell, a retired Navy operations specialist who teaches culinary arts at Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

Duffell said experienced Navy cooks were wary at first, unsure about what they could learn in the classes.

"I had to walk on eggshells for a while," he said. "I had to build up their confidence."

But Duffell, who earned his culinary arts degree after retiring from the Navy, said he took the teaching job at Kings Bay because he couldn't remember "one meal that stuck out in my mind from 22 years in the Navy."

The program enrolls Navy cooks in seven different classes, offering 150 hours of instruction each. Students learn what Duffell called classic cooking standards, from proper knife skills to spicing techniques. Trainees can earn a total of 21 college credit hours toward a culinary-arts degree if they complete all seven classes.

Garza said the skills he's learned in the program have made a big difference in his cooking.

"I've learned a lot of techniques I wasn't aware of before," Garza said. "This is more of a commercial kitchen, instead of institutional."

Making a meal appealing to the eye and palate is the ultimate goal, Garza said. The classes teach cooks how to be flexible and improvise with food preparation and presentation.

Duffell said good food is important for morale on the submarine. "You get a bad meal, you've got a bad day." he said. "They have nothing else to do."
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Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U5GA
Date:Apr 28, 2003
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