CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., - Pistachio-crusted pork chops, pan-seared lamb chops and plates of roasted spaghetti were just a few of the culinary treats served by Rahm Fama, guest chef and host of the Food Network show, "Meat and Potatoes," and the food service specialists of Food Service Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 25, 2013.
Fama is a meat enthusiast who spent his childhood at a ranch and worked his way up the restaurant ladder, cooking for several kitchens all over America before landing a job as corporate chef for U.S. Foods in Los Angeles.
A smorgasbord of meat and starch dishes broke the routine menu of the 14 Area mess hall, as Chef Fama provided new choices to challenge the culinary skills of the food service specialists and stimulate the palate.
“He showed us some techniques, we did some preparation work and punched out this pretty fancy meal,” said Sgt. Samuel Hodgeman, assistant chief cook with CLR-17, 1st MLG. “He gave the Marines different tips on techniques such as layering and searing.”
In addition to enhancing the Marines’ culinary skills, the experience also provided the Marines with a view on the food industry from a civilian perspective, said Hodgeman, a native of Derry, N.H.
“It opens the Marines’ eyes to what the culinary community can be outside of the mess hall,” said Hodgeman. “It really expands their horizons and opens them up to more creativity.”
The event was conducted in partnership between Sodexo food services and the Marine Corps to provide the food service specialists with a different outlook on their day-to-day routine.
“The event builds our partnership and gives the Marines a chance to try something a little different and outside the box,” said Ronald Lazurek, project manager for Sodexo. “It gives them a taste of what happens in the private sector. It also helps us to motivate them.”
At the end of the day, the junior enlisted Marines reaped the biggest benefits from the experience and gained new insights to their job.
“The thing I liked about it the most was being able to interact with Chef Rama,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel D. Jackson, a food service specialist with CLR-17, 1st MLG. “The way he prepares and cooks some of the food is new and creative. It was an eye-opening experience for me.”
The food service industry is a sector built upon its customers, and food service in the military is no different. The food service specialists with Combat Logistic Regiment 17 strive to provide Marines food with the best nutrition and taste.
“The bottom line is ‘how’s the chow?’” said Lazurek, a native of Milwaukee, Wis. “Everybody I’ve talked to loved the food. These Marines did an outstanding job.”