PRESS RELEASE – A 24-year-old Royal Navy chef from St Lucia has entered the high pressure arena of competition cooking to take part in the first Devonport Flotilla Culinary Challenge held at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall, UK.
Chef Alex Coathup was part of a three-person team chosen to represent the survey ship, HMS Scott, competing alongside teams from five other ships and submarines, using the facilities at the Defence Maritime Logistics School (DMLS).
Each team was given just 90 minutes to prepare and serve a three course meal for four covers. The teams were given freedom to design their own menu but were limited to just £10 per head. All ingredients used had to be available from the core range used throughout the fleet.
HMS Scott’s team produced a mouth-watering menu of poached fillet of haddock as their starter, followed by a main course of ballotine chicken stuffed with an apricot farce, thyme and garlic mash with asparagus spears and baton carrots.
For dessert, the chefs produced a chocolate fondant served with chilli ice cream and spiced flamed plums. While the two chefs concentrated on preparing and cooking the meal, the stewards were judged on their front of house skills in preparing the table and serving the meal. The team were awarded a certificate of merit for their efforts.
Chef Coathup said: “I took part in the competition to help further my career and for a break away from every day cooking in the galley. It was enjoyable with some highs and low. The hardest part was getting our heads round a menu in such a short time with limited practise. Overall I enjoyed the experience and the pleasure in working with my team mates would definitely make me want to take part in another competition if the opportunity came my way.”
The former pupil of Corinth Secondary School joined the Royal Navy in 2008. Since then he has served at sea on deployments, visiting the Far East, India, North and South America, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Europe. Chef Coathup was among the sailors chosen to play a role in the running of the London 2012 Olympics.
He said: “The highlights of my career have been the people I’ve worked with and the places I’ve been. I grew up on an island in the Caribbean and worked in a few restaurants while living there, learning as much as I could as I have always known I would want to be a chef. My career so far has been one of great satisfaction and very enjoyable. There have been some difficult parts which have made me stronger as a person and helped me push forward. I’m looking forward to moving up the promotion ladder as my career progresses.”
The competition was based loosely on the annual Armed Forces culinary challenge, known as Exercise Joint Caterer, and was organised by the Devonport Flotilla staff using the extensive facilities available at the DMLS.
It was judged by Rod Naylor, a former Royal Navy chef and instructor at the DMLS, who is now one of the country’s premier culinary competition judges, incorporated into the World Association of Chefs.
He was joined by Alan Starling, the Deputy Director of Craft at the Army Catering College and Leading Chef Laura Willison, the captain of the Naval Service Culinary Arts Team. Warrant Officer 1 Paul Dungey, the Fleet Catering Services career manager, judged the front-of-house side of the competition.