Training Center Petaluma’s Culinary Specialist “A” school spearheads Culinary Apprenticeship Program

Photo By Lt. Rahnal Harris | Culinary Specialist students with culinary degrees graduate 8 weeks early under pilot apprenticeship program  



Story by Lt. Rahnal Harris 

U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma 

Training Center Petaluma is the home to the U.S. Coast Guard ‘s cooking school! The fleet’s Culinary Specialists (CS) are trained in all the cooking competencies the Coast Guard requires.
TRACEN Petaluma embodied “Readiness” by taking quick action to identify able candidates for a Rating Apprenticeship Program that incorporated prior student experiences and education to accelerate student success and completion of CS “A” School.
“Former education enhances training and previous experience pays dividends, as we are streamlining training programs by taking culinarians (an already billet stressed rating) with degrees through abbreviated training to get them out to the fleet,” said Lt. Rahnal Harris, Operations Training Division Chief at TRACEN Petaluma. “That shortens the amount of training the student needs from the Coast Guard, gives them credit for what they know, allows them to advance to petty officer, and acquires a strong well-trained culinarian to these units that are shorthanded.”
The first CS “A” school class 03-22 started August 30 with six students, three students had Culinary Arts degrees, setting the stage for a new way to train. With a new target audience, the CS school staff developed a rigorous six-week course where students were assessed on all 113 performance objectives in three weeks and built endurance during two-weeks in the production Galley creating over 700 meals a day.
The accelerated skills assessment returned superb outcomes where collectively, the three students completed 110 performance objectives on the first assessment, three required some coaching and reassessment, which was completed while this fast-moving machine was in motion.
Students remarked they enjoyed the pace of the program and the opportunity to pilot this new approach and were able to demonstrate competence in all skills with minimal remedial training.
SNCS Patrick Snyder, a recent graduate of the program, remarked on his experience in the program “The biggest takeaway was familiarizing myself with Coast Guard’s way of cooking and prepping meals and really enjoyed the fast pace of the course….there was never a dull moment. I took away a lot. I didn’t know that I could learn so much more, but has really proven to me that in the in the culinary industry you always keep learning.”
In their pursuit, besides working on general skills they cook for the entire training population and staff daily. This can be up to about 1000 people each day, Phew… The blending of skills work and practical service turns out about 180 Culinary Specialists, annually, ready to enter the fleet and attend to the morale and happiness of their shipmates with food
The CS School staff continue to innovate and have set their sights on conducting a full comparison of CS requirements to the American Culinary Federation certification standards to support effective application of current and future monetary incentives by attracting qualified civilians into this critical workforce.

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