Friendship Through Food

Written by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Pat Morrissey

ESMERALDAS, Ecuador — As part of its enduring promise to Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) hosts officials during the ship’s medical assistance visits. One of the major factors in the tour is the reception of host-nation officials, where the culinary specialists prepare meals and decorations for the event.

Receptions for high-level distinguished visits take a significant amount of logistical preparation and manpower.

Lt. j.g. Jason Patrignani, the food service officer aboard Comfort, from, Naples, Fla., believes the logistics can often be complex when planning for such events.

“As a food service officer, I need to figure out the overall logistical plan,” said Patrignani. “Once we have the basic logistics down, we can start working on the small details, like table design and menus.”

“Preparing for distinguished visitor events takes lots of careful planning; we start planning three months out,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Brian Cossak, from Long Beach, Calif. “My role is to help come up with a menu that is both feasible, using the resources available, and elegant.”

During the last distinguished visitor event with Ecuadorian leaders, the Comfort culinary team created an elaborate, stylized cake which was designed to appear as combined Ecuadorian and American flags.

“The hardest part was making the cake itself,” said Cossak. “It took a couple hours to bake and about seven hours to decorate. Being able to do these events allows me to demonstrate my abilities as a culinary specialist. It allows me to expand my horizons and show my creative side when it comes to presentation.”

Serving for distinguished visitors is a great opportunity not every Sailor gets to experience.

“It will always be an honor to serve the commodore, commanding officer and their guests,” said Cussak. “My team is thoroughly grateful for the experience and opportunity to meet guests from around the world.”

These events are part of a larger plan to build a lasting relationship between the United States and the home countries of the visitors.

Comfort is on an 11-week medical support mission to Central and South America as part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative. Working with health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras, the embarked medical team will provide care on board and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems caused partly by an increase in cross-border migrants. The deployment reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity with the Americas.

For more information, visit,, and

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.