Reservist

ISS4 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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24 RESERVIST � Issue 4 • 2018 After school, Edwards accepted orders to another black hull, the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper. She laughed remembering the tricks the galley cooks used, like trying not to get burned putting trays into the oven when the ship took a roll, or putting wet towels under mixing bowls and cutting boards so they wouldn't slide. She said she could never get her lemon bars to come out level, they always had a list to them from being in a floating oven—things the average cook never has to worry about. "One time, we were in these 25-foot swells, and we're making Swedish meatballs, so we're trying to roll meatballs while making sure the pots don't slide off the stove top," said Edwards. The best part of working in the galley, said Edwards, was that the cooks would know about anything going on before anyone else. "We had to know everything, where to offload trash, when we could buy more food… so we would know about anything going on before the whole crew." Plus that passageway that runs along the galley? Yeah, people like to talk. Loudly. By this time, Edwards was engaged to be married, and she couldn't get a billet close by her fiancé. She tried to cross over into the Reserve, but she couldn't find a unit within reasonable commuting distance that had a billet open. Edwards agreed to stay in the IRR while she dug out her educational benefits and started her bachelor's degree at the Art Institute of Washington. Her husband Mike was working nearby at the Department of Homeland Security's dining facility, and the two purchased their first house together. When her first semester ended, Edwards didn't take a summer break. She upped her game, enrolling in six classes per quarter semester and taking a part-time job managing a small coffee shop. "I thought, 'I'm already full speed ahead, why not keep going?'" said Edwards. Working at a furious pace that allowed her to finish a four- year degree in two and a half, she graduated last March with her bachelor's in culinary management. Now she had the trifecta of talent, experience and education, and she brought it all back to the Coast Guard last spring when she took an out-of-rate assignment on active duty orders as part of the In-service Transfer Team (ISTT). There, she helps active duty members transfer to the Reserve. "I just wanted to be part of the Coast Guard team again," said Edwards. "To me, Coast Guard is what I know, what I enjoy." Though she works in trops during the day, Edwards has a reputation for donning her chef's jacket on occasional evenings when she pitches in with special events around D.C. She passes on her tips and tricks to the other CSs, while simultaneously learning new ones. The names of delicacies drop gracefully and effortlessly as she speaks—things like, "poke in phyllo dough shells" and "duck liver pâté" and "tapenade on toasted baguette." She's so familiar and comfortable with the fanciest of foods and techniques, but to know Edwards is to appreciate her modesty; she's most proud of a simple princess cake for her stepdaughter's fourth birthday. It was a surprise to Edwards when she was recently chosen to be featured in the Buzzfeed article. Modest to a fault, she attributed her success to opportunities presented in the service, and she was eager to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of Coast Guard cooks. "I don't have a pastry degree yet—I'm still one class away from my associate's. But the things I've learned [in college] about pastry, I've been able to teach my husband, who's used it during his receptions, and he's been able to teach other CSs." So much of being a cook is based on trends and appetites, cultures and creativity. "Our rating is one of the few where you can say, 'This is what I know works,'" said Chief Petty Officer Dustin Webb, himself a trops-by-day, chef's-coat-by-night type who also works at Headquarters. "It's not mathematically driven; it's an organic thing." Edwards recently "picked up ice sculpting" (as she puts it) while prepping for the reception for the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard change of watch ceremony. Working with Webb, who at one time had also worked on the commandant's culinary staff, Edwards learned to sculpt a ship's wheel out of ice, carving out the spokes one by one. Days later, on her own, she tested her new skill, engraving tiny Hawaiian flowers in the displays for the commandant's change of command reception, a subtle nod to Adm. Paul Zukunft's retirement plans. "Right from the beginning, she was eager to learn," said Webb, who was excited to pass on the rare knowledge of ice carving. "She wanted to do new things in the culinary arts, and when someone's willing to learn, that's awesome." Since the busy summer of receptions due to the change in Coast Guard administrations, Edwards continued to teach and learn. She loves being part of the bench strength for DHS and other national-level special events. "They just ask me to help, and I say, 'Yes! I'll be there!'" she said with a laugh. Edwards and her husband continue to share their love of cooking. It doesn't require a special occasion for them to spend an evening together making chocolate truffles with raspberry macaroon filling and whiskey ganache for an event at the commandant's residence. "We need a bigger kitchen," said Mike, remembering a time when they made poached pears covered in chocolate mousse. "It's just something we like to do." They talk about opening their own restaurant one day, maybe an Italian bistro in Texas. She's even beginning to teach her stepdaughter how to make a few recipes. � " The Coast Guard has great opportunities for all. As a culinary specialist, I like that I can put a smile on a member's face just by providing them with a high-quality meal that I have put all my creativity and passion in. Don't let anything stop you from following your goals and dreams. If this is the path you want to take, then put your best foot forward and let the doors open ! " — Chrissie Edwards

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