As U.S. Coast Guardsmen step onto the main deck of the fast response cutter USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141), savory scents from the galley captivate their attention. Memories from home, friends and family enter their minds.
Food brings people together and different meals can have some of the most comforting memories attached to them. This is what two culinary specialists strive for when they enter the galley each day.
Culinary Specialist 1st Class Adrian Hernandez, from Milliken, Colorado, is one Charles Moulthrope’s 24 plank owners, the original crewmembers when the ship commissioned in January 2021. As the ship’s food service officer, some of his responsibilities include keeping facilities clean, managing the meal budget and purchasing food for a crew of nearly 30.
Before Hernandez joined the Coast Guard, he worked in the food industry at a wide variety of eateries, from bakeries to steakhouses and Michelin Star restaurants. He brought those skills and inspiration to the meals he serves aboard Charles Moulthrope.
While previously assigned to the 378-foot, high endurance cutter USCGC Boutwell (WHEC 719), he learned how easy it was to prepare meals for over 170 Coasties from scratch despite the extra time and large scale. Hernandez says cooking for a smaller crew aboard Charles Moulthrope makes the meals more intimate since he can prepare menus with specific dietary needs in mind. Crewmembers also tend to socialize more while enjoying their meals.
He also said making food from scratch makes it easier to store and load food supplies because there are no large cases or bulk items of pre-cooked foods to store on board.
Hernandez enjoys teaching his counterpart, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Christian Bostick, how to prepare food from scratch, regardless of crew size, and passing on the lessons learned from his time aboard Boutwell. They make a great team and both enjoy creating comfort foods for crewmembers while underway, Hernandez said.
“It is a lot easier to put more love into your meals with a smaller crew versus being on a bigger ship,” said Bostick. “It is easier to plate your meals and be creative with menus when feeding a crew of 30 compared to feeding a crew of 150 in a one-hour mealtime.”
Bostick is from Greenville, South Carolina. His favorite foods to make for the crew are southern dishes like macaroni and cheese, smoked short ribs and coleslaw. Hernandez enjoys preparing Asian, Indian and Korean foods. He says the crew also enjoys Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich – a lunch favorite he prepares.
“It’s nice to know you can make a meal that makes it feel like home,” said Hernandez. “It makes the time go by a little easier when you’re away from family.”
Hernandez’s team was recognized by the Coast Guard last year for the dining facility of the year for small ships at sea. The Forrest O. Rednour Memorial Award criteria has nine different evaluation categories, from training and supervision to food presentation and paperwork administration.
“In the Coast Guard, small cutters usually have some of the best food, but here it is on another level,” said Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Hills, Charles Moulthrope’s commanding officer. “Nowhere else have I experienced the consistent level of excellence that our culinary specialists display on Charles Moulthrope. They still surprise me.”
“We’d like to see if we can get the award back-to-back,” said Hernandez. “While we do things differently, we always do our best.”