News: Wasp culinary specialist finishes first in Navy Week New Orleans Seafood Cook-off
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Preston Paglinawan
NEW ORLEANS -Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Solrosita De Perio, from the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), competed against culinary specialists from various U.S. and foreign Navy commands, in a “LA Seafood Cook-Off” at the Woldenberg Riverfront Park during Navy Week New Orleans April 20.
Eleven well-known Louisiana chefs were paired with culinary specialists from each of the visiting ships in port.
Event coordinators partnered De Perio with Chef Johnny Blancher, owner of Ye Olde College Inn, a local New Orleans restaurant.
“I think a key thing for CS2 De Perio to take away from this is that being a culinary specialist in the Navy is more than just being a cook aboard a ship, and making three meals a day. It’s an opportunity to be creative and have fun with your job,” said Cmdr. Darrel Mathis, Wasp supply officer. “She is a chef in her own right and she should be proud of what she did here today.”
The duo started their day with $200 to spend on ingredients, and first traveled to Rouses Market in downtown New Orleans to shop for ingredients. They were assisted by award-winning and nationally famous New Orleans chef, Susan Spicer.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Chief Culinary Specialist Lakesia Jackson, supply leading petty officer aboard Wasp. “I enjoyed everything from watching them shop for ingredients to the presentation of the award.”
De Perio and Blancher along with the other 10 teams had 30 minutes to prepare a dish using any ingredients they wanted with the only required ingredient being at least one of Louisiana’s crab, oysters, shrimp, fish or crawfish.
Six judges including local celebrity chefs and visiting military dignitaries rated the culinary creations on three factors: presentation, creativity, and taste.
“It was great seeing what other chefs from all over the world bring to the table,” said Mathis. We were able to see how they cook, how they prepare meals and how they go about doing the things in comparison to how we do things. That was a big thing for us.”
When all was said and done, De Perio and Blancher took top honors, leaving an honorable mention in the competition to a culinary specialist from the French frigate FS Germinal who was partnered with celebrity chef Rene Bajeux.
“It feels amazing to take home the win today,” said De Perio. “I got to work with a great chef and learned a few skills I can take back to the ship.”
Approximately 3,000 sailors and Marines, nine ships from the United States, France, Canada, Great Britain, Ecuador, and Indonesia, and about three dozen aircraft are involved in the Navy Week New Orleans events.
Wasp wraps up Navy Week New Orleans April 23 and heads next to Navy Week Port Everglades, Fla. The Navy Weeks, both War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration events, salute all sailors and Marines who fought gallantly in that conflict, served in out nations’ conflicts since then, and who are defending freedom around the world today.