The Navy’s Culinary Specialist (CS)“ A” School has relocated from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to Training Support Center (TSC) at Great Lakes, Ill., after three years of planning.
Following a 10-year partnership with the Air Force, which shared its culinary training facilities between Seamen and Airmen alike, the Center for Service Support (CSS), Athens, Ga., graduated its last class at Lackland March 24.
CS students in the Air Force and Navy were mutually trained until three years ago when the Navy personalized its curriculum as part of the Revolution in Training to include computer based training (CBT) and hands-on schooling more reflective of culinary shipboard responsibilities.
“We changed the training from commingled to collocated training so we could give our cooks the concentrated training that they needed to be successful in their role,” explained Capt. Robert Monette, CSS commanding officer. “A commingled configuration didn’t serve the Navy very well because of the way that we use our cooks as opposed to the way the Air Force uses its cooks. Our culinary specialists cook three meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year — that is their primary skill.
Air Force personnel mainly use their cooking skills when they are forward deployed in field kitchens, which is a different environment to that of a galley aboard a ship.
"The Air Force cooks get two weeks of cooking, two weeks of mortuary training, and two weeks of learning to run a physical fitness center, (like) a gymnasium,” he said.
The revamped CS Navy curriculum consists of four weeks’ training covering sanitation, nutrition, and supervision in the academics portion, and the basics of shipboard cooking, such as baking and kitchen equipment familiarization in the practical portion. The training program, which is certified by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), is yet another example of how the Navy is pursuing civilian recognition of Navy ratings.
“After Sailors successfully complete the training and their first sea tour, they are eligible to take the exam through ACF to become a certified culinarian,” Monette said.
The change in location marks the next step forward in the training revolution. In particular, the relocation eases the movement of CS students from Boot Camp to “A” School since Recruit Training Command (RTC) and TSC are both located at Great Lakes.
“Several efficiencies have resulted from the ‘A’ School relocation: first, as the students graduate from RTC, they just need to move across the street to begin their initial skills training. That saves about $1 million a year in transportation costs,” said Monette.
Another advantage of the new location is that CS students receive supplemental military training through the Apprentice Military Environment (AME) program. The program, which is unique to TSC Great Lakes, continues the Sailorization process from Recruit Training through a series of activities in the form of academics, history and heritage, team sports and duty section training.
“To provide Navy Military Training at Lackland, we had to have a stand alone training support detachment that replicated the same function that the Training Support Center provides up here,” said Monette.
According to Michael Geraci, project manager, more than 1,300 students graduate from CS training annually. However, with changing Navy roles and responsibilities, an increase in the CS rating is being anticipated down the road.
Monette and his team hosted the first graduation at Great Lakes April 7, which was also attended by TSC Great Lakes Commanding Officer, Capt. Glenn Brunner. Thirty students graduated from the course. Another 60 students currently in training observed the graduation and helped cater the event.
The new facility contains a bakeshop with 12 ovens, four mixers, four warmers and a freezer and refrigerator, and a galley containing eight ovens, a tilt fryer, deep fryer and a freezer and refrigerator. Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Michael Criner, CS “A” School instructor, said that the resources are typically shared between four classes.
“We have a bakeshop and regular galley," Criner said. "Generally we’ll have two classes in academics training and one class in the bakeshop and the other in the galley.”
Students cooking in the food labs prepare just enough food to be consumed by the number of people in the class.
Cmdr. Edward Tulenko, director of training, ensured that training remained uninterrupted during the relocation. Existing instructors from Lackland relocated to Great Lakes along with the new CS “A” School.
“We had to work on a timeline so that we could move instructors and their families at the right pace into the new environment,” he said.