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Building morale with better food

Chef Adam Weiner serves as chef mentor through Adopt-a-Ship program


by: U.S. NAVY PHOTOS BY MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 3RD CLASS CHRISTOPHER PRATT - Chef Adam Weiner , Adopt-a-Ship chef mentor, talks to culinary specialsits at Naval Base San Diegos Mercer Galley.

A typical Fourth of July celebration will include a parade down the main street of town, a barbecue, patriotic music and an awe-inspiring firework display. But for many of our service men and women deployed around the world, the Fourth of July will be a regular day of duty. Wouldn’t it be nice to do something to improve the quality of their lives away from home?

I recently spoke with a man who is committed to doing just that. Chef Adam Weiner volunteers as a chef mentor with the Adopt-a-Ship program, which gives special training to culinary specialists in the U.S. Navy to improve the quality of the food they serve.

The program was established by the Naval Supply Systems Command Food Service Division and the American Culinary Federation in 1997 in an effort to ensure that sailors are trained to provide quality food.

Weiner has served as a chef mentor for about six years and completed a dozen assignments on ships based on both coasts. He recently completed a training at the Naval Base San Diego — Mercer Galley.

These are three selections for the best burger competition held at Mercer Galley.

“The purpose of the Adopt-a-Ship program is to take the Navy culinary specialists’ cooking to the next level,” said Weiner. “I love doing this to help improve the morale of sailors in the fleet. One of the things sailors look forward to the most while deployed is the next meal, and it’s important to make sure that the meals are prepared well to keep everyone’s morale high.”

During his mentoring session at the base galley Weiner pitted the culinary specialists against each other in a best burger competition. The friendly competition helps build morale and allows sailors to show off their cooking talents.

Weiner shared some of the tips he gives the culinary specialists; I believe they are sound advice for shore-based kitchens too.

1. Don’t serve anything unless you would serve it to your grandmother and tell her you were proud of it.

2. Taste the food, taste the food, taste the food. Then have a shipmate taste it.

3. Don’t forget seasoning.

4. You aren’t cooking for yourselves, you are cooking for your fellow sailors and shipmates. Make sure you think of them like they were paying customers.

5. The morale on a ship at sea is heavily based on the food. The culinary specialists control the mood of the ship.

Chefs wanting to learn more about the Adopt-a-Ship program can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Weiner sent this recipe to share with you. It comes with a fun story, as all good dishes should.

Happy Fourth of July and Bon Appetit!

Mid-Rats Bread Pudding

by Chef Adam Weiner

Ships at sea have a late evening buffet called midnight rations (shortened to “mid-rats”). This buffet is designed for the officers and crew who come off watch late at night and for the officers and crew who are to relieve them. One of the fun things about this buffet is creating exciting dishes with items leftover from lunch and dinner. One that is a perpetual favorite is the Mid-Rats Bread Pudding. The “bread” can be anything from bread, muffins, cookies, hamburger buns, cakes (frosted or plain), brownies or some combination of these ingredients.

I’ve scaled down the recipe to make 6 to 8 servings. Obviously, we make larger versions at sea.

10 ounces total of stale bread, cake, muffins, cookies, etc. crumbled finely. (Note, basically any bread product except bagels work fine.)

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups milk

2 cups sugar

2 cups of goodies such as raisins, nuts, dried cranberries, candy pieces, chocolate chips (play with the amounts)

3 teaspoons combined of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger (combine in any way you like)

3 eggs

8 tablespoons of melted butter

Combine all ingredients. Mixture should be fairly moist but not overly soupy. Spray nonstick spray on the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour mixture into baking dish. Place into a non-preheated oven (this is the secret) and turn on oven to 350 for a regular oven or 300 for a convection oven. Cooking time will probably be just more than an hour but check after 45 minutes. The trick with this bread pudding is not to overcook it. It should just be golden on top and still shake like a bowl full of jelly. A large spoon or ice cream scoop should be used to serve it. If you can cut it into squares you have overcooked it. Serve warm with sauce, recipe follows.

Bread Pudding Sauce

by Chef Adam Weiner

8 tablespoons (one stick) butter

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup flavorful liquid (At home, whiskey, rum or brandy works great. There is no alcohol on Navy ships so I use orange juice, apple juice, pineapple juice or lemonade. Cranberry juice yields a great tasty sauce of a not appealing color.)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat to a simmer. Drizzle over bread pudding.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 100, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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