A Dash of Home: U.S. Coast Guard culinary specialist supports crew with unique flavors

Photo By Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Bryson | U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Nathalie Viger, a culinary specialist, demonstrates how she conducts culinary operations aboard the USCGC Robert Yered (WPC01104) during TRADEWINDS 24 (TW24) in Barbados on May 7, 2024. Viger says she loves the Coast Guard mission and being able to bring “a little bit of home” to the crew with local foods and cuisine– and it gives her the opportunity to meet people from around the world. TW24 is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, regionally oriented annual exercise and is part of the Joint Chief of Staff’s Large Scale Global Exercise 24, a series of all-domain military exercises executed alongside Allies and partners around the globe. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth O. Bryson)



Story by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Bryson 

U.S. Army South 

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Today, aboard the USCGC Robert Yered (WPC01104), the galley is filled with anticipation as savory aromas fill through the air. On the menu? A delectable ensemble of ragu beef, succulent shrimp, and fluffy rice, all delicately accompanied by zesty pico de gallo.

Amidst the flurry of activity in the mess hall, there’s no esteemed Michelin-starred chef orchestrating this culinary delight. Instead, it’s Petty Officer First Class Nathalie Viger, a culinary specialist, who takes center stage, the sole culinary maestro aboard the CGC Robert Yered.

Viger, originally from San Francisco, Calif., supports the crew onboard by keeping everyone aboard well fed and in high spirits.

“Being in the Coast Guard has offered me opportunities and the ability to travel the world,” Viger as she wiped sweat off her brow with a towel and smiled. “But, I also really wanted a job that had meaning and brought a sense of fulfillment. I know the job we do is really important and it’s great to be a part of that.

Viger says she is proud to be a part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s daily mission here at TRADEWINDS 24, the premiere Caribbean-focused exercise led by U.S. Southern Command.

Lt. Commander David P. Allen, CGC Robert Yered ship commander, explained the mission and the importance of multinational participation in TW24 to regional stability.

“The mission of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered is primarily search and rescue, counter narcotics, and migrant interdiction, ” Allen said. “Being here is extremely relevant to our mission; we work with other coast guards, navies, and law enforcement in the region, regularly.”

Allen expressed praise for Viger who is currently the sole culinary specialist on the cutter, saying she has a “great attitude.”

“Little things like good food can really help build morale,” Allen said. “She does a great job.”

Viger said she enjoys using her creativity in planning the vessel’s menus.

“Buying locally sourced produce when we come to port is a real morale booster for the crew,” Viger said, beaming. “It also gives me the chance to meet new people from around the world and experiment with different foods. It can be a lot of work, but I like bringing a little ‘bit of home’ to the rest of the crew.”

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