Chef Fernando "Fern" Garcia Was A Navy Combat Cook
Young Navy Cook
image via Chef Fern Garcia
The first year was tough, man. Tougher than you can imagine or I can explain. I was a slave. I bled. They used to put me on the grill to do steaks for a crew of 3,000. I would go to the reefer (freezer) and bring out towers of boxes of frozen flank, ribeye, or T-bone. I would come in early and make a mixture of... water, beef base, Heinz 57 sauce, and any concoction of dry herbs I could find, a few gallons. Then, I would brown frozen steaks from left to right in an even motion on a very long industrial flat grill, drop them half cooked into a hotel pan in stacks like herd lined up for death, fill it with a quarter of my "stock," cover with foil, and place into ovens which I synchronized with time and temp. 200 degrees plus.
After about 9 hours straight, I got 3,000 plus steaks done. But the fun was not over because I had to do my dinner product ( that was only lunch). We had a board in the kitchen that would indicate what your duty was. If you had "grill," they would "sometimes" feel bad for you and give you veg or powdered mash by the GALLONS.
We worked from 5 a.m. until about midnight or more. There were NO restrictions on human values nor consideration for human limitations. Uncle Sam loves to test the endurance of the young mind, body, and soul. That's okay because with tragedy comes strength. The majority of our cooks in the Pacific fleet were Filipino which many people were NOT fond off. I learned a lot from them. They taught me how to cherish even the poorest meal. Rice and eggs. I learned how to master soups, adobo, pancit, and many other delights. I owe those bastards a lot.
I was worked like a slave. My first year was all grill work and other items like Turkey a la King, and Turkey a la King, and did I mention Turkey a la King. The cooks guarded the Navy cook's secret recipe box like it was something from another planet. Like an ancient secret kept in a wooden box, that if discovered, a Mayan civilization would cut your heart out. Now I look back and laugh over their BULLSHIT recipes. Come on man... Turkey a la King???? It's yummy in some sense or so, I guess. ++Oh Handley, I will never forget you added CLOVES to the spaghetti...nice try!++
To Be Continued?????????? Leave a comment.
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