Stationed on the Coast Guard cutter Wahoo out of Port Angeles, the Culinary Specialist is both crew member and chef.
COAST GUARD CULINARY SPECIALIST
What do you do? I am a Culinary Specialist 2nd Class in the United States Coast Guard, stationed on the Coast Guard cutter Wahoo, a coastal patrol boat out of Port Angeles. Our primary area of operation is the Puget Sound, from Neah Bay to the San Juan Islands all the way down to Tacoma. Our missions consist of maritime security and law enforcement, search and rescue; and living marine resources.
In any one week of patrol, we could transition from doing fishery enforcement in the Hood Canal to a rescue case off of Orcas Island to a security zone for the Seattle ferries.
How did you get started in that field? I always found food science and nutrition fascinating. In high school I was a part of my school’s culinary team. We would attend cooking competitions against other schools. The competitions were similar to “Iron Chef” or “Chopped.” Training for this type of cooking prepared me for the fast-paced cooking done in the Coast Guard.
What’s a typical day like? I wake up at 5:30, prepare breakfast for the crew of 10, consisting of eggs to order and an omelet bar. Between breakfast and lunch I will participate as a boat crewman and aid the boarding team during safety/recreational boardings. I will prepare lunch shortly after. After cleaning the galley after lunch, we will conduct training of the ship’s systems or weapons. I will prepare dinner, and after cleaning up, we will take part in physical training circuits. The evening will be personal time to study or call home.
What’s the best part of the job? Getting to prepare delicious and nutritious food for my crew and seeing the smiles on their faces.
What surprises people about what you do? The quality of food I prepare. Many of your readers won’t believe the types of food on our menu. We as Culinary Specialists receive exceptional training, and we bring that forth in our cooking.