CAMP LEMONNIER , DJIBOUTI
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jared Walker
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – The Camp Lemonnier five-star Dorie Miller Galley enhances the quality-of-life of personnel assigned to the installation by preparing specialized cakes for events and private parties.
The cakes are large enough to indulge the taste buds of personnel that visit the galley for lunch or dinner. To ensure the cake operation continues throughout the year, the Dorie Miller Galley has specialized personnel that provide daily baking support.
Galley Baker and official Cake Boss Ramil Rosales has been working at the galley since 2009 and became the cake boss in 2013.
“The previous cake boss taught me how to decorate cakes. I used to watch him make the cakes and I became very interested in it as well,” said Rosales. “Eventually, it was my time to make a cake.”
Rosales said the first time he had to make a cake for an important event, his hands shook from nerves. He said it took some time, but eventually he wasn’t as nervous and became more confident in his decorating skills.
Over time, people on base came to enjoy Rosales’ cakes. This is something that Rosales says he really appreciates because he enjoys what he does.
“I’m so happy that people love my cakes; even when I haven’t finished it,” Rosales said. “The people who work in the galley tell me that people call and say how much they like the cakes as well.”
Rosales’ supervisor at the galley, Frederick Church, who has been decorating cakes himself for years, said he believes that Rosales will soon surpass his cake decorating skills.
“He has such an artistic ability – he sees things that most don’t,” Church said. “I have to draw things out, while he can freehand it. He likes to paint which helps him with his cake decorating skills.”
Church also said that Rosales is very familiar with U.S. holidays, which helps with the brainstorming process when coming up with cake ideas.
Rosales’ hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. The food service officer for the galley, Chief Culinary Specialist Minardo Nicholas, is impressed with his skills as well.
“He makes such amazing cakes,” Nicholas said. “I have been in the Navy 21 years and he is one of the most talented cake bosses that I have ever met. It’s a pleasure to work with him.”
Rosales makes cakes for almost every holiday, special events and private gatherings around the base. He said creating all of these different designs, with their hundreds of colors, can be a test of his skills.
“One of the biggest challenges in decorating cakes is the mixing of colors,” Rosales said. “I wasn’t used to mixing the different colors before, but, by trial and error, over time I became better – the more I experimented, the better I got.”
The degree of difficulty in design increased as he came up with more unique designs. One of his favorite creations was a cake he made for Thanksgiving.
“The first time I made a Thanksgiving cake, it was from my own design,” Rosales said. “The cake was in the form of a turkey and even had feathers. I mixed a lot of colors and it turned out really beautiful.”
Rosales has made cakes for monthly celebrations and events such as Women’s History month, Independence Day, Christmas, service member birthday months, multiple changes of command, military balls, and base appreciation events.
The opinions of Rosales’ bosses differ when it comes to their favorite cake designs.
“My favorite cake that he made had a dove that was pulling a wagon that had roses coming off the side of the cake,” Church said. “The insight that he had to have a dove pull a wagon instead of a horse just showcased his imagination.”
Nicholas liked two different cakes for a completely different reason.
“My favorite cakes are the Asian Pacific Islander and Black History month cakes,” Nicholas said. “These cakes, in my opinion, unite the troops. This is a diverse base and this gives us another opportunity to work together as a team.”
While Rosales is currently the cake boss at the Dorie Miller Galley, he wants to make cakes for other people one day.
“I look forward to making cakes for birthdays and weddings,” Rosales said. “This is my dream because I saw this on YouTube and I said to myself ‘I can do this’ – I know that I can.”
Camp Lemonnier’s mission includes enabling joint warfighters operating forward and to reinforce the U.S. – Djibouti relationship by providing exceptional services and facilities for the tenant commands, transient U.S. assets and service members.
Camp Lemonnier is one of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, installations that conducts six lines of operations to support air operations, port operations, safety, security, quality-of-life and what is called the core: the fuels, water and power that keep the bases operating.