Devonport are runners-up in Royal Navy’s Master Chef Competition

Three teams from Faslane, Devonport and Portsmouth Flotillas took part in the Inter-Flotilla cook and serve competition, sponsored by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

Using the facilities at HMS Raleigh, in Cornwall, each team of two chefs and one front-of-house steward had 75 minutes to cook and serve a three-course meal for three diners, plus an additional plate for the judges. 

The submariners from Faslane took the top prize. Devonport was represented by a team from HMS Montrose.

Their mouth-watering creation comprised a pan fried lemon and saffron hake starter, a main course of pistachio crusted venison and a port poached pear for dessert.

The aptly named Leading Chef Tallan Cooke led the Devonport team.  He said: “I thought the competition went very well for us.  This was my first competition in six and half years in the Royal Navy and as we were told at the start, the more you do of these things, the further you will progress.  I really enjoyed today.  It was a bit of an eye-opener and took me back to some of the things I did in training, bringing back some basic skills and refining them.”

Each flotilla held its own competition with the winning team going through to the final.  Among the judges this time was Scottish chef Gary Maclean, who was crowned the winner of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2016. 

Gary is also the Executive Chef at the City of Glasgow College and Scotland’s National Chef.  He said:  “For me I just love competitions.  I think it’s a really good way of bringing on young chefs.  I also think it shows another side to the Armed Services, they can come in and cook as well as chefs in civvy street.  The standard was really high, one of the teams was doing something I would be doing in competition; a lot of local produce and another with really classic skills.  Each dish was really different, but really good.”

Gary was joined by Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Si Geldart, captain of the Naval Services Culinary Arts team and Petty Officer Stevie Stokoe, an instructor at the Defence Maritime Logistics School.  Retired Warrant Officer Gary Slater judged the front-of-house service.

For me I just love competitions. I think it’s a really good way of bringing on young chefs. I also think it shows another side to the Armed Services, they can come in and cook as well as chefs in civvy street.

Gary Maclean, winner of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2016

CPO Geldart said:  “We were looking for natural flair, the use of seasonality food, showing off their ability both front-of-house and back-of-house.  We wanted to see knife skills and for the front-of-house we wanted to see them using flambé, how they interacted with the guests and overall we wanted to see how they worked together as a team.  Hopefully this will lead the competitors to compete in the Naval Services Culinary Arts team and in civilian competitions.  The ultimate goal is to get into the Combined Services Culinary Arts team to compete on the world stage.”

Royal Navy Catering Services staff are required to cook for a large number of people.  HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of the Royal Navy’s new Aircraft Carriers, has a Ship’s Company of 700, rising to 1,600 when a full complement of aircraft is on board for example.  They also play a key role in Defence Engagement during visits to foreign ports.

Commander Marc Evans, a former Fleet Logistics Officer, and who now works as the Chief of Staff in the Royal Navy’s People and Training Directorate, was one of the diners.

He said: “The food was lovely.  It’s always lovely to see the skills our young catering services personnel can produce in often difficult circumstances and in kitchens that they are sometimes not familiar with.  The ability to deliver a lunch or a dinner, or indeed a large function, is absolutely core to the Royal Navy’s soft power capability.”