There is one baker surrounded by pounds of flour, sugar, frosting and all other ingredients that go into a well-crafted cake that will soon serve thousands of Sailors. Some may wonder how one baker, with plenty of counter space and oven room, can handle such a laborious task.
“Once I get all my ideas together, I put my headphones in, listen to some music and do everything I need to do to put it together,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Ayesha Coleman, from Woodbridge, Virginia.
Coleman, assigned to the supply department aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), is in charge of dessert items served during meals aboard the ship. Her talents are activated when creating the John C. Stennis’ command cakes for special occasions, such as holidays the Navy pays tribute to.
“I feel like I’m contributing to the mission,” said Coleman. “Culinary specialists as a whole all contribute to the mission. The holidays are a big deal to me because that’s time we get to spend with our families. I put a lot of effort into [making a cake], and the reaction I get from people gives me a sense of fulfillment. People will come up to see these command cakes, and when they see it, they will be wowed.”
Coleman learned how to bake when she was 10 years old and has since cultivated a love for baking and cooking. She expressed how fortunate she is to use her cooking abilities regularly to carry out the ship’s mission and to further develop in a craft she is passionate about.
“Baking is just a peaceful process for me,” said Coleman. “I feel like it’s the most calming thing in the world. Making dough or baking a cake, when it comes out perfect, it gives you a lot more than you think it does. I want everyone to be able to see that someone put effort into making them feel happy, and it’s that satisfaction I get from seeing people amazed by something that I did.”
Coleman joined the Navy in 2017, and her love for what she does can be attributed to her motivation from being a part of the John C. Stennis’ mission success.
“Culinary specialist are the morale boosters,” said Coleman, who comes from a family of service members. “Deployment is long, and there’s a lot of times when it’s hard to find something to keep us motivated. [Baking] keeps me motivated, and I hope it can keep others motivated, and give them something to look forward to.”
Coleman is serving as a cook while further developing her culinary abilities. She looks forward to attending culinary school and one day pursuing a career in culinary arts.
“The military has been a big part of my life,” says Coleman. “Growing up around the Navy gave me something to really think about regarding my future. As of right now, this is a stepping stone for me to do better and gives me a plan to pursue cooking, which I really enjoy.”
Every Sailor aboard the John C. Stennis contributes to mission readiness, and culinary specialists like Coleman play a vital role.
The John C. Stennis is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.