Stewards Dish Out Best For ‘Iron Chef’ Contest

January 2010

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Editor’s note: Chief Steward Karl Meyer submitted the following story and accompanying photos.

On October 16, 2009 the United Seamen’s Service in Diego Garcia hosted a squadron-wide “Iron Chef” competition sponsored by Capt. Anthony Martin, commander of Maritime Prepositioning Squadron Two.

The stewards arrived ashore on the 1 p.m. launch and quickly settled in, taking over the kitchen facility of the seamen’s club. They each brought an assistant from their respective ships and all the ingredients to prepare one soup and one entrée for 30 people.

Soon every inch of counter space was taken as each entrant got started, as they had just three hours to prep, cook and serve each dish in a random blind test. Halfway through the prep time, each team was given the sequence of who would serve first. The intensity among the stewards grew instantly.

At 5 p.m., the first soup was rolled out of the kitchen by the club’s staff to the five waiting judges. The stewards had to remain in the kitchen until the final entrée was served. Each dish was judged in three separate categories: presentation, creativity and flavor.

After the judges concluded their tasting and scoring the USS director retreated to his office to tally the scores. In the meantime, a large crowd had gathered in anticipation of tasting each Iron Chef’s soup and entrée.

The stewards were brought out to the buffet line with their dishes and began feeding a hungry crowd. At 7 p.m., Commander Martin took the stage with the Iron Chefs to thank them for a job well done not only in the competition but also for adding to the camaraderie of the ships of MPS2 and the island. He then stated that despite a complicated scoring system with a possible 100 points available, there was a tie for third place. Chief Steward George Creekmore, sailing out of Norfolk on the USNS Button served seafood ginger soup with stuffed BBQ chicken while Chief Steward Oscar Gomez, out of Wilmington and on the MV Bennett, served fresh clam chowder with magret of duckling breast.

Chief Steward Karl Meyer out of the Port of Oakland and sailing on board the USNS Gianella took second-place honors with a chilled gazpacho soup with a garnish of poached shrimp and avocado; the entrée was a seared ahi tuna filet on a bed of jicama slaw and topped with papaya/mango salsa.

Honorable mention went to Stephan Osovitz on the MV Page out of the Port of New York (arroz con pollo) and Alice Kwasnjuk (Port of Joliet) on the MV Carter (beef tenderloin).

“Iron Chef Diego Garcia 2009” was awarded to Chief Steward Dana Washington, also out of Oakland, sailing aboard the USNS Kocak. Dana dazzled the judges with his Thai-themed cuisine. He served tom kai gai, a coconut chicken soup and a Pad Thai-inspired dish of shrimp and pan-fried noodles with a cold cucumber salad garnished with chili peppers, cilantro and roasted chopped peanuts. Dana, who was surprised to win Iron Chef, lives in rural Thailand in a very traditional setting, and credits his grasp of Thai cooking to his mother-in-law, who is a cook as well and a great teacher and supervisor when they let him in the kitchen.

All in all it was a great event bringing the ships together and all the participants had a fantastic time and are looking forward to the chili cook-off in May.

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