LAEM CHABANG, Thailand – Sailors aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) experienced authentic Thai cuisine during a joint cooking engagement with local professional chefs during a port visit June 10, 2019.
Executive Chef Pongpisit Ungsuchaikij and Assistant Chef Watchara Plangsorn, from Avani Hotel Pattaya, cooked with Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Rafaelo Balagtas, Culinary Specialist Class 3rd Class Brennan Cornell, and Culinary Specialist Seaman Marcus Buckley to create an authentic Thai meal for Sailors aboard the ship.
“I loved watching my Sailors heavily engaged with the professional chefs,” said Antietam’s food service officer, Lt. Marissa Liu. “Not only did my team have fun learning how to create new dishes, the crew was able to enjoy a wonderful and enriching meal.”
The chefs brought traditional ingredients with them to create Massaman Chicken, a Thai yellow curry dish, and Tom Yum Goong, a spicy seafood soup. Together, the cooking team was able to create authentic Thai cuisine for the 95 Sailors waiting to eat.
“Cooking the meal with the chefs was a great experience,” said Cornell. “This was my first time cooking Thai food, so it was an honor and privilege to learn different techniques and methods from an executive chef from Thailand.”
The culinary specialists enjoyed working with the Thai chefs, and the feelings were reciprocated. Ungsuchaikij has volunteered to teach over 20 Navy ships, and still enjoys every one as if it was the first time.
“Everyone was friendly and helpful,” said Ungsuchaikij. “I really like promoting our food and culture to the Navy ships because I can teach them how to cook while giving back to the community.”
The president of the U.S. Navy League Council of Siam, Thailand, Peter Thorand, organized the event. One of the organization goals is to support the military whenever possible through community relations events geared towards working together to expand culture. “When you meet people and the first impression is good, you will always remember that,” said Thorand. “It is great to work with the local community and make lasting friendship.”
Antietam is in Thailand on a liberty visit after completing Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2019. This year marks the 25th iteration of CARAT, a multinational exercise series designed to enhance U.S. and partner navies’ abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.
Antietam is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.