Philippine native honors parents through naval service

Photo By Russ Stewart | Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Kris Cristobal prepares food during the Mobile Kitchen Trailer event at the 47th annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise in Fort Lee, Virginia, 4-10 March 2023. Naval Supply System Command (NAVSUP) is headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employs a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 25,000 military and civilian personnel. NAVSUP's responsibilities include managing the Navy's supply chain, including the procurement, storage, and distribution of materials and equipment; providing financial and accounting services for the Navy; managing Navy-owned and leased real estate; and overseeing the Navy's food service programs.



Story by Russ Stewart 

Naval Supply Systems Command 

Growing up in Hermosa, Bataan in the Philippines and spending summers with family in Olongapo City, it’s hard to imagine the path taken by Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Kris Paulo Cristobal now serving at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

“I always admired my parents with their culinary talents and their passion in the kitchen since I was a little kid,” shared Cristobal. “Joining as a Culinary Specialist would be like bringing them with me every time I come to work and in every accomplishment that I do.”

Born in San Fernando, Pampanga (Philippines), Cristobal grew up in a family where his father worked in the United States, providing for his family overseas. His mother stayed home raising him and his siblings full-time. He loved school and achieved honors in the Philippines until the family moved to the U.S. while he was still in middle school. Cristobal earned a place on the Dean’s List in middle school and graduated in the top ten percent from high school in 2015.

He credits his parents upbringing of respect and love for whatever you put your heart and hard work into for his successes. Not wanting to burden his parents with the cost of college, Cristobal joined the Navy in San Diego at 19, motivated by the independence, serving his country and the education therein.

Boot Camp and ‘A’ School proved to be a different environment for Cristobal. Meeting so many people from so many backgrounds and upbringings and being able to work with them, forming bonds and friendships is something he would remember the rest of his life.

“I loved every single bit of ‘A’ School because it is my passion to be in the kitchen and learning a lot of knowledge that I did not know before was exciting and it really did prepare me in joining the fleet,” said Cristobal. “I have always been an open-minded individual and I try to make the best wherever I go, whatever I do, and in all of the challenges that I face. Resiliency comes from my parents too.”

His first assignment after school was the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), where he was promoted through the ranks to Petty Officer 2nd Class and earned the position of “Cake Boss.” The ship visiting many different countries during its deployments added to his experiences aboard the Vinson.

“The Vinson taught me a lot more than my rate, but also being in the Navy and being out to sea and it shaped me in who I am today and the type of leader that I am,” Cristobal explained. “I love leading sailors, teaching them everything that I learned and also being a part of their professional lives makes me happy.”

Cristobal looks forward to applying for a commission after he completes his degree and is planning on retiring from the Navy and imagines that his plans after retirement would be based on his naval career.

Cristobal has recently participated in the Annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) as part of the U.S. Navy Culinary Arts Team. The JCTE is the largest military culinary competition in North America. The competition is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation and showcases the talents of military chefs from around the globe. JCTE is considered one of the premier culinary competitions in the military, and is highly regarded within the culinary industry.

“Being a [Culinary Specialist] is a lot in terms of the job, but I would not have it any other way because the knowledge, experiences, work, and professional relationships that I have made this far in my career can’t be taken away from me and seeing my mentees make rank and do good in the Navy always gives me happiness,” said Cristobal. “Culinary Specialists are rare breeds, we know how to work from the kitchen, customer service, administrative, public relations, logistics, and events. We are trained to be poised, resilient, meticulous, and confident in whatever we do.”

Through his experiences beginning in the Philippines, immigrating to the U.S., Boot Camp, ‘A’ School, follow on commands, and even the recent military culinary competition weave a complex tapestry of one Sailor’s life.

“Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone,” concluded Cristobal. “Because great things comes from hard work and being a Culinary Specialist open doors to many opportunities and it is the best out there!”

The Navy Food Service Program, and through the program Navy Culinary Specialists around the globe, is part of Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) and provides operational and financial policy guidance designed to improve the quality of life for Sailors by ensuring our Navy general messes efficiently and economically deliver high-quality nutritious foods that exceed customer expectations.

NAVSUP is headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employs a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 25,000 military and civilian personnel. NAVSUP and the Navy Supply Corps conduct and enable supply chain, acquisition, operational logistics and Sailor & family care activities with our mission partners to generate readiness and sustain naval forces worldwide to prevent and decisively win wars.

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