Story by PO2 Michael P Semales on 04/06/2019LAEM CHABANG, Thailand (NNS) - A group of culinary specialists aboard U.S. 7th Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) learned a little bit about Thai culture April 6, participating in a joint cooking seminar held with professional Thai chefs during a port call to Laem Chabang, Thailand.
Avani Hotel Pattaya Executive Chef Pongpisit Ungsuchaikij and Sous-chef Watchara Plangsorn came aboard Blue Ridge to teach 12 members of the ship's food service team how to prepare a variety of traditional Thai dishes, all from the comfort of the ship's main galley.
"I was immediately excited the moment I heard we were going to get this opportunity," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Ahmod Phillips, from Las Vegas. "I've always loved Thai food (because of) the complex flavors and aromas, as well as the varying levels of heat each dish brings to the table. It's a difficult challenge to try to learn how to cook like that on your own, so getting an authentic Thai hands-on lessons in the galley was an awesome experience."
The U.S. Navy League Council of Siam, Thailand, organized the event. They have done similar events over the last 20 years, bringing more than 2,000 cooking lessons to Sailors visiting the area.
"The Navy league works hard to bring unique experiences to Sailors while they visit the beautiful country of Thailand," said Peter Thorand, president of the Navy League Council of Siam, during the event. "With Thai cuisine being so paramount to the culture of this country, we all unanimously agreed this would be the best way to get Sailors interacting with the local community while they're here."
The Thai chefs came aboard with an array of ingredients in order to prepare Tom Yom Gung Spicy Shrimp Soup and Chicken Massaman Curry for more than 200 Sailors.
"The food they prepared for us was easily the best food I've had on the ship so far, and definitely the hottest," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Cassie Tabladillo, from Oahu, Hawaii. "Thai spice is no joke, but I loved it."
The event came to a conclusion with the presentation of training certificates and Blue Ridge chef coats for each of the Thai chefs, with Thai cookbooks being given in exchange to the culinary specialists who participated in the preparation of the Thai entrees.
"It was fantastic to see how well the crew and the Thai chefs worked together, even with a language barrier," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Steven Cholewka, a native of Buffalo, N.Y. "Cooking is kind of like a universal language that can really bring people together. I hope we can bring some of the lessons we learned today into future meals on the ship, if people can handle the heat."
Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as 7th Fleet command ship, is responsible for patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.
For more news from USS Blue Ridge, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/.