BREMERTON , WA, UNITED STATES
Story by Douglas Stutz
The aroma of Chicken Carnitas wafted through Naval Hospital Bremerton’s Terrace Dining Room a few hours before lunch time.
Must be Taco Tuesday.
The recipe was being prepped by Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Johnathan Schave to serve as a lunch selection for quesadillas on an entirely new menu at NHB.
“I’m a fan of chicken and will definitely go chicken over the beef option,” said Schave. “Plus, it’s simple to make and really tastes good.”
According to Chief Culinary Specialist Miguel Escajeda, a completely revamped menu is offering a wide variety of healthier choices, drawing rave reviews from staff patrons, positive feedback from patients, and has the galley crew upping their epicurean ability.
“We’re enjoying being able to make different dishes, many being made from scratch. It is more work for us, but doing this allows our CSs to hone their craft, which is imperative. Plus, a lot of what we’re doing now is on the advancement exam, so they will have hands-on experience when it’s time to take the test,” explained Escajeda.
A 21-day menu cycle has been introduced at NHB, much like used in the fleet, featuring two entrees daily, with a specific theme for each week-day. Monday is ‘Italian cuisine,’ the aforementioned Taco Tuesday – “or similar style,” affirmed Escajeda – followed by ‘American traditional’ fare such as roast beef or fish on Wednesday, with Thursday having ‘Asian inspired’ meals and Friday alternating main entrée(s) and speed line offerings between pizza/wings and brunch.
Don’t take a bite yet, there’s more.
Because even the daily speed line/grill entrée has a whole new lineup. Monday features a Deli Sandwich Bar, with varied breads from ciabatta to whole wheat to rolls, and meats from turkey to ham to salami; Tuesday follows the taco theme, with Wednesday featuring burgers, ranging from beef to veggie.
“Even our burgers are better than before. We use lean ground beef which is 90 percent beef and 10 percent fat. They make a better and much healthier option,” stated Lt. Lorna Brown, Nutrition Management Department head and registered dietitian.
Escajeda noted that burgers and other speed like fare will also be augmented with seasonal additions such as avocados and jalapenos.
Thursday has been reserved for hot dogs.
“As well as corn dogs,” Escajeda added. “We’ll also have home-made chili and all the fixings.”
There’s still more to choose. There’s also an improved salad bar, featuring 18 items, which Escajeda affirms will increase as more fruits and vegetables become available in the upcoming seasons.
There’s also soup of the day, vegetable and starch side dishes to go with the daily entrées, and of course, dessert.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from staff at lunch. They’re happy to get fresh, variety and options,” Brown said.
Brown and Escajeda, along with Culinary Specialist 1st Class Adielemerson Angeles, and Retail Service Specialist 1st Class Robertmelbuen Maneclang have lead the command’s Combined Food Operations leading this whole scale change.
They have initiated a project which looked at reducing food waste and overproduction costs in the galley. The cycle menu was put in place to help improve production forecasting, meet predetermined standards of adequacy, acceptability, cost and execution.
The project resulted in:
• 15 percent increase in number of meals served
• By implementing a cycle menu, overproduction cost decreased by 54.1 percent
• Increased patron satisfaction and food consistency
• Increased high-reliability organization goals by implementing standardized menus and recipes
• Streamlined production decreased manpower hours and increased training and education by two hours per week per each culinary specialist
• Improved production forecasting
• Revised inpatient menu choices to include Terrace Dining Room hotline option to further decrease food waste and production time.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Cecilia Romeroreyes took on the brunt of the responsibility to ensure all nutritional notes for the inpatient needs, data recipes and more were all entered into a specific database to ensure that right menu items went to the right patient.
“She was such a huge help and did all the heavy lifting for us in getting all that information uploaded,” Escajeda said.
Even the Go For Green labeling has been upgraded.
“They visually explain the wide variety of healthier choices,” said Brown, referring to the Secretary of Navy directive for advancing nutrition efforts to provide healthier eating options which uses a color coded menu – comparable to traffic signals – which visually provide good advice for choosing what to eat.
Brown and Escajeda confirmed that with all the work put in by the Terrace Dining Room galley staff; those they serve still must make the difficult decision.
“The person placing their order has a lot of good, nutritional choices. Every option is good. It can be hard to choose,” remarked Brown.