CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – At 15-years-old, Kevin Johnson took interest in culinary arts when his father and grandmother introduced him to the joys of cooking. Eight years, three deployments and three cooking schools later, Johnson continues his service as a Marine while furthering his culinary education.
Johnson, food service specialist with 14 Area chow hall, Food Service Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, went through high school continuing to cook where he decided to make a career out of his passion. He pursued his obsession by enrolling in an associate’s degree program in culinary arts and restaurant hospitality at Lamar University. After a year and a half in college, Johnson left to enlist in the military and serve his country as a Marine cook.
“I joined the Marine Corps as a cook because I decided to do something I’m good at,” said Johnson, 23, from Buna, Texas.
Shortly after finishing boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Johnson proceeded to Marine Combat Training at Camp Pendleton, Calif. and then to Ft. Lee, Va. where he learned to be a Marine food service specialist.
Johnson found himself on back-to-back deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom after receiving orders to the fleet. He recently returned from a third deployment, which he spent with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“Cpl. Johnson loves what he does and takes pride in it,” said Sgt. Jonathan C. Duncan, 28, from Brooklyn, Conn., a food service specialist with 14 Area chow hall. “He is both a good cook and Marine.”
Fellow Marines say they enjoy working with Johnson in the kitchen and that he brings both humor and knowledge, which makes cooking educational in a fun environment.
“Johnson is a stellar Marine who is knowledgeable and proficient at his job,” said Cpl. Ian J. Sanders, food service specialist with 14 Area chow hall.
“He takes pride in both being a Marine and leading them.”
Marines who work with Johnson said he is always pushing his subordinates to be better Marines and food service specialists.
“He expects his junior Marines to prepare the best possible meal,” said Sanders, 22, from Mount Pleasant, Mich. “He’ll spend extra time to teach his Marines how to add more flavor to food.”
Johnson’s obsession with food doesn’t stop once he leaves work. His culinary skills follow him to his home in Fallbrook, Calif. where he cooks for his wife, Trisha A. Johnson, 23 and 2-year-old daughter Kilee M. Johnson.
“Kevin really enjoys making food for everyone,” said Trisha. “He is always volunteering to cook and grill whenever we’re at my family’s house.”
Johnson enjoys every part of cooking, whether it is choosing the recipes, preparing the food or even going to the store and purchasing it.
“When we go to the grocery store, Kevin gets really excited,” said Trisha, 23, from Fallbrook, Calif. “He acts like a kid in the candy store.”
Johnson said he will always appreciate cooking. He enjoys seeing the gratification of others when they enjoy the food he makes.
“I’d like to make a career out of the Marine Corps, but the needs of my family come before mine,” said Johnson.
If he departs from the military, Johnson intends on returning to Culinary Institute of America to pursue a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and restaurant hospitality and eventually own a restaurant.