ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE TOWNSVILLE, Australia --
As American and Australian Forces here moved into their fourth day of training in support of exercise Talisman Sabre 2011, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 food service specialists have been working side-by-side with their Australian counterparts at the Airmen’s Mess Hall here July 14.
MWSS-171 Marines are working closely with Australian chefs to learn new cooking skills in order to better support the service members participating in exercise Talisman Sabre.
“The experience my Marines are having here with the Australians is great,” said Staff. Sgt. Juan J. Inzunza, MWSS-171 mess chef.
“Some of (the Australian cooks and chefs) have been in the food service industry for 20-plus years, so it’s definitely a good opportunity for these younger Marines to learn some great culinary skills.”
The mess hall here employs civilian chefs and cooks to work alongside the military Australian food service specialists. Many of the civilian chefs and cooks received extensive training from top culinary schools.
Inzunza said he’d noticed the Marines are already learning several new skills from the Australian chefs and hopes the Marines will apply those skills in their jobs later on.
Some of the skills the Marines have learned include more efficient ways of cooking and new techniques to handle knives for better cuts. They also learned new recipes.
“I feel confident I’ll be able to use these new skills here and just general cooking or in restaurants,” said Lance Cpl. Fatimah Butler, an MWSS-171 food service specialist. “We’re working with actual chefs. It’s just awesome.”
Butler has been a food service specialist for more than a year and said she’s realized one thing. “I’m still learning,” said Butler. “You’re always learning something new. They do it differently everywhere.”
Many of the Australian chefs and cooks here have enjoyed their time working and teaching the Marines. “They’re pretty good,” said Belinda Pickles, a civilian chef working at the Airmen’s Mess hall here. “They seem to really want to learn new things.”
Pickles said she hopes the Marines will teach others what they learned here and maybe also show them what Australian cuisine is like. Australian Air Force Sgt. Lance Rennie, 27 Squadron Airmen’s Mess military chef-in-charge said, the Marine food service specialists have adapted well in their new environment and believes their new-found skills will serve them well to support the mission here. “We are just a small piece in the larger wheel,” said Rennie.
“Without the chow hall — without us providing four meals a day here, the (service members) won’t get the sustenance they need to get out to the field to be able to put the birds up in the sky so the pilots can do their missions. We are just a small support element to build the big picture.”
Talisman Sabre is a biennial exercise designed to test and improve Australian and American forces’ ability to conduct joint and combined task force operations. The exercise focuses on improving the combat readiness and interoperability of participating units.
Iwakuni-based MWSS-171, Marine Aircraft Group 12 Headquarters, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, Marine Attack Squadron 214, and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 service members are here in support of the exercise.
Okinawa-based service members with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport squadron 152, Marine Wing Communication Squadron 18 and Marine Air Control Squadron 4 are also participating in the exercise.