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Everything posted by BubbleheadChef

  1. The air quality is better than you will find in most restaurants with the 3 exhaust fans we have running plus the air conditioning blowing in. We do have to clean it regularly since we certainly dont have the luxury of night porters and don't want fires in the ventilation system.
  2. I will try to get an electronic version of the menu and post it, if somebody could tell me how to post something that big. On a typical underway day, we usually serve about 400 covers daily with the guys eating in 26 at a time for about an hour every six hours four times a day. The ship makes its own water, but we do have to boil it as we don't use the water from the plant for hot water. It is basically the same as at home but on much larger scale.
  3. We make every effort to comply with religious and allergy restrictions, but it isn't always feasable. On my last boat, we did a guy that was jewish and wouldn't eat the restricted foods and when we knew he was up if we couldn't offer him something on the regular menu, we would just make him a grilled cheese sandwich or something to hold him so he didn't go hungry. One of the things that I like to do for my crew is have an idea of what religious holidays will be coming up and have something special for them to commemerate. Make a challah or get a kosher cook book and make something appropriate. As far as the menu goes, once a year we submit our menu's to a dietician for review to get an idea of where we should tweak the menu in in regards to health concerns.
  4. We don't have anything we aren't allowed to do except use open flame, and the exhaust system we use is intense to say the least. However, if we are cooking something that may have some sort of sharp odor, we call up to the control room and let them know so they don't call away a fire.
  5. The best trick is use is to use menu's that dont require a specific cut of meat or something. For instance, I load out on rib eye roll and use it for stew, grilled steaks, stir fry, philly cheesesteak sandwiches, etc. As far as keeping fresh vegetables fresher, longer there really isn't much I can do. I try to use those "food saver" (I think that is what they are called) bags, but when you have 120 lbs of lettece, it is difficult to keep them fresh. One other thing I use a lot is a vacuum sealer. Things like bell peppers and things like that I'll julienne and then vacuum seal them.
  6. We still pass all our food hand over hand down to the storerooms and freezer and chill box. It takes awhile but the entire crew is there helping so with all the banter going on, it isn't too bad. We still load out as much fresh as we can, and our freezers have gotten bigger, but it is still a lot of canned vegetables and dehydrated things. Towards the end of the run, you start craving ANYTHING FRESH, but we all understand it is the nature of the beast. However, if I don't have fresh milk and veggies on the pier upon arrival, I better run off because they are going to lynch me.
  7. We don't necessarily pile on the desserts, with limited space to excercise, that wouldn't exactly be condusive to looking professional with our bellies hanging out over our belts! We do however try to vary things up by doing special occasion meals or puttiong out snacks for the guys that are not on watch. I like to use the leftover bread, some tomatoes, garlic, etc and make a bruschetta for instance. Or I will specially order some comfort foods like corndogs or something to just cook off and put out for the guys. We have a soft serve ice cream machine that runs for 23 hours a day and on the shorter runs I have the ability to load bulk ice cream from Breyers or Ben and Jerry's to put out for the guys. Every sunday we do a surf and turf meal with roast prime rib and lobster, crab legs, shrimp scampi, or a blackened fish (usually tuna or salmon, its much easier to store for long periods of time and the freezing doesn't kill the flavor). As for how I decide how much to load out. I have a set 5 week menu that repeats. Once a quarter, I do a menu review board to try to change the menu a bit, but it pretty much stays the same as far as what type of meats, veggies, and starches I use, so I do simple math for each line item and figure out an "average daily usage" of the product and order that amount. For instance, if I am going to serve 300 lb or prime rib in thirty days, I divide 300 by 30 days and come up with 3.0 lbs/day. If I am ordering for 45 days and don't have any prime rib on board, I multiply 45 days by 3.0 and come up with 135 lbs needed for 45 days. I do that will all of my food and just keep an inventory on hand and when I get to 30 days of food left, I drop my order to keep my stock levels up where I want them.
  8. THE SUBMARINE FORCE WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER QUIT SERVING SLIDERS !!!! For everybody else, sliders is the Sailor's name for Hamburgers. Back in the bad old days, the burgers had so much grease in them, they would just slide down your throat. We get a much better product now, but the name stuck. We still have a problem with keeping fresh on board fast attack submarines, the boomers shouldn't have a problem if they load properly, but that may cause more than a few arguments depending on who reads this! After 60 days straight underway, you really start to miss things like lettuce or fresh carrots or fresh broccoli or cucumbers. A lot of guys bring thier "treat" but for the most part if they ask me for it, I bring it for them. No use them spending thier money on stuff I can order.
  9. Our mission is always different, so the amount of time we are deployed always varies as well. It can be as short as a few days or as long as 9 months. We are required to keep between 45 and 90 days of food on board at all times. I have gone as long as 40 days without getting any food drops but I know of guys that have gone as long as 50 to 60 days. It makes for some very "interesting" menu changing to support what you have.
  10. Thanks a lot for the kind words. We try.
  11. You don't hear them ask for food just like __________, but you do get a lot of "on my last boat, the cooks did _______. Can you add that to the menu?". That being said, it never fails to amaze me that the first thing a lot of the guys do when arriving to port, no matter WHERE it is, is to find a McDonalds or whatever fast food there is. Think "Cheeseburger in Paradise". My menus which are written for 4 meals a day for 35 days generally include 2 entrees, 1 or 2 starches, 2 Vegetables, a home made soup, and a home made dessert. You will hear a lot of guys say they eat better on the boat than they did growing up. That would lead me into a conversation on how sorry the state of "family dinner's" has gotten but I will reserve that for another time. Sorry about starting to ramble, its been a long day, I hope I answered your question.
  12. Wow! Who knew there would be so much interest? I'll do my best to answer all of your questions, but with my hectic schedule it may take a couple days to respond to everybody. Also, please remember that all of my responses are MY point of view and DO NOT IN ANY WAY reflect the Navy's. (Had to add the disclaimer, LOL) First, Jason. The facility provided us onboard Virginia are absolutely first rate. On previous classes of submarines, it seemed as if the galley (kitchen), crew's mess (the dining area), and storage space were all afterthoughts. On Virginia, the galley is spacious, well lit, well appointed with 2 convection ovens, a 2 basket deep fat fryer, 5 gallon stand mixer, two 20 gallon steam jacketed kettles, and a great work triangle. I have enough room to carry approximately 110 days of dry and frozen food. I am only able to carry about 2 weeks of fresh fruits and vegetables and about 1 week of fresh milk. I do have the ability to carry shelf stable milk, not so lovingly referred to as "plastic cow". It doesn't require refrigeration and will stay "fresh" for up to 6 months in my storerooms. I have storerooms scattered throughout the boat to keep my cans of food stowed and out of the way. I am looking to see if I have any pictures of the galley, but cameras aren't real prevalent, so I'll see what I have to give you a better idea.
  13. My first submarine was a Boomer (USS Kentucky), right now I am on the USS Virginia (first of the Virginia Class) and am transfering to a Los Angeles Class (USS Dallas). I am the the Chief Culinary Specialist (loosely translates to the executive chef of a smaller restaurant). Please feel free to ask me anything.
  14. Sorry abou that last post...still trying to figure out this reply to a specific quote thing.
  15. Jason You are ABSOLUTELY correct. The best cooks in the military are Submarine Cooks. BTW, Bubblehead is the slang term for Submariners...not self promoting or anything!
  16. While being stationed in Naples, Italy, I had the fantastic opportunity to befriend quite a few of the locals there. Once they found out I was a cook, a whole new world opened up to me. One of my observances was, there is NO SUCH THING as the "right" way to make anything (at least in southern Italy)! I truly believe that families have gone to war with each other over the "right" or "wrong" way to make any dish. LOL. However, it is my firm belief, that most Napolitani use pork and/or lamb in thier ragu. The pork butt/lamb cooked in the sauce and then sliced as the Secondo Piatto with a little of the sauce over it. OTTIMO!!!! And almost always served over tagliatelle. Thank you for indulging me and my random thoughts.
  17. By far the best coffee I have ever had was in Naples, Italy at the top of the crater of Lago D'Averno. Not just great coffe, but amazing scenery. In the US, I am partial to a little single store operation in Old Lyme, CT called Koffee Works.
  18. Hello All With my job (I am the lead Chef aboard a submarine), I work with a lot of "blue collar" types and A LOT of single guys whom I usually invite to eat with the my wife, daughter (2 years old), and myself. We have a hard and fast rule that dinner is to be eaten in the kitchen with the TV off (with the exception of major sports events, I am after all a sports junkie) and family style service. Most of the guys that come over seem to appreciate that a lot more than fancy plated presentations and our overall goal is to show these young guys that you can "live to eat and not just eat to live". The majority of thier diets in port are along the lines of chicken wings and beer at the local bars. So we may do something they are not used to eating but "present" it in a fashion that won't make them feel uncomfortable or out of place and worrying which fork to use and what kind of wine to drink with what meat and all those other things that "non-foodie types" usually don't understand. The average age of these guys is about 20-22, so not a lot of experience with REAL food and wine. When it is just family however, my wife usually breaks out the dishes appropriate to the meal, such as the pasta plates we picked up in Italy if we are having italian, or the asian themed plates if we are having an asian meal. The basic rule is whatever dish we are eating on usually has a story associated with it. Ultimately, I think whatever makes the meal special for you, should be done.
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