EDITORIAL COMMENT: The Serving Line
A Professional Culinary Option
Much recognition goes to the professional-quality culinary training available in the military that puts service members on the path toward certification and a post-service career.
Less is known about the professional culinary career opportunities available in the Military Sealift Command for qualified veterans with experience gained during active duty or having American Culinary Federation (ACF) certification.
These opportunities are seagoing positions aboard its vessels worldwide that are open to skilled culinary professionals who are looking to take the next career step.
Culinary skill is on display every day in mess halls, galleys and dining facilities throughout the military. Culinary specialists and facility managers take pride in their work keeping service members well-fed with healthy and nutritious meals.
The Joint Culinary Center of Excellence (JCCoE) serves as the single point of contact for all aspects of the Army Food Program. It develops new feeding concepts and trains enlisted soldiers in the entire scope of the Army Food Program.
Within JCCoE, the Joint Culinary Training Directorate (JCTD) trains approximately 6,500 to 7,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as cooks each year. While the majority of this training is initial military culinary training, JCCoE also trains and conducts the Army Advanced Culinary Skills Course and the Army Enlisted Aide Course.
Skills learned at JCTD are put to the test during the annual military culinary arts competition at Fort Lee, Va., which is judged by American Culinary Federation chefs. Top performers can apply to become part of the elite U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team, which competes in local, national and international culinary competitions, including the Culinary Olympics.
Also, the Navy's Adopt-A-Ship program began in 1968 as a partnership between the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) and the ACF to educate culinary specialists about industry practices.
Professional chefs share their experience, knowledge and skills with the culinary specialists. Culinary specialists apply what they learn from the professional chefs coming aboard ship in the galley. The program mainly introduces Navy culinary specialists to industry best practices through the knowledge and work experience of participating professional chefs.
Perennial award programs that recognize the skills developed through the culinary training available in the military include the Army's Phillip A. Connelly, Navy's Capt. Edward F. Ney, Military Sealift Command's Capt. David M. Cook, Marine Corps' W.P.T. Hill, Coast Guard's Forrest O. Rednour, Air Force's John L. Hennessey and Air National Guard's Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney.
While there is much opportunity in the military to train toward a professional culinary career, service members ready to return to civilian life may be missing an opportunity to take the next step if they are unaware that the Sealift Command is recruiting those with the requisite professional experience and qualifications gained during active duty.
Trends change, menus and their execution evolve. Culinarians are always learning and developing their skills. Expert culinary training in the military does point service members toward a professional culinary career, but navigating that path will always be challenging. The opportunity offered by the Military Sealift Command is one option to consider for reaching that destination.