DESRON 31’s top chefs battle in new competition

Capt. Wallace Lovely, commodore, DESRON 31; Culinary Specialist 1st Class Lance Ross, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet; and Chef Ernesto Limcaco sample the culinary offerings of contestants in Dec. 6 top chef-style competition.


Capt. Wallace Lovely, commodore, DESRON 31; Culinary Specialist 1st Class Lance Ross, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet; and Chef Ernesto Limcaco sample the culinary offerings of contestants in Dec. 6 top chef-style competition.

Story and photos by Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31 held an inaugural top chef competition Dec. 6.

Competitors from five ships- USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Hopper (DDG 70), USS O’Kane (DDG 77) and USS Russell (DDG 59)-entered their culinary creations.

There were special, secret ingredients chefs had to use in their dishes. The ingredients were Thai ginger, bananas and grape jelly. The ships’ chefs didn’t know what the ingredients would be until they were delivered to their galleys just two hours before the start of the competition.

The array of meals prepared was impressive and creative, including ginger beef and broccoli, teri chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and pineapple skewers. Two different ships entered variations of Monte Cristo sandwiches. Deserts ranged from banana lumpia to banana parfait to sautéed bananas and apple.

The three-judge panel consisted of Capt. Wallace Lovely, commodore of DESRON 31; Culinary Specialist 1st Class Lance Ross, assigned to Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Chef Ernesto Limcaco, Y. Hata & Co.

The judges tried each of the many dishes and chatted with the contestants. Limcaco shared his years of experience and offered helpful advice to the chefs.

After much discussion and deliberation, the judges made their decision. The winner was Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Steven Lindlar from O’Kane. His meal consisted of sweet and sour pork with grape jelly and ginger, ginger rice, asparagus and ginger, and peanut butter and banana cake.

Culinar Specialist 3rd Class Steven Lindlar, USS O'Kane (DDG 77) congratulates his shipmates after he is named winner of DESRON 31's cooking competition.


Culinar Specialist 3rd Class Steven Lindlar, USS O’Kane (DDG 77) congratulates his shipmates after he is named winner of DESRON 31’s cooking competition.

“I’m very excited,” said Lindlar. “It was a lot of work, but I had good people helping.”

The secret ingredients didn’t intimidate Lindlar.

“I just looked at the ingredients and what we had in the galley and put two and two together,” he said. “And I’ve always been good at sweet and sour pork.”

As winner, Lindlar received a chef’s knife, a trophy and two weeks being taught by Chef Limcaco.

The competition was the brainchild of Lovely.

“I always like to visit the galleys of ships,” he said. “Each ship is so proud of the food they serve, and we wanted to bring out and recognize their talented culinary specialists.”

As for the secret ingredients, they were chosen using very lowtech, old-fashioned methods.

“We wrote down different ingredients on pieces of paper and pulled them from a hat,” said Lovely.

Limcaco said he was impressed by all of the contestants.

“In my book, all of them were winners,” he said. “There is some awesome food in the U.S. Navy.”

While this was the first “top chef” competition at DESRON 31, it probably won’t be the last.

“We’re looking at making this a quarterly event,” Lovely said.

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Category: News