USS Mississippi's 'Gator Pit' Tour

By: Patrice Clark, WLOX-TV
By: Patrice Clark, WLOX-TV

USS Mississippi culinary specialists allowed a camera in to what they call 'the gator pit' to show how a crew of sailors is fed on board a Navy vessel that is underwater most of the year.

"The area you can see behind me is the galley area. This is exactly where we feed the entire crew," said Chief Culinary Specialist Ryan Christianson. "We feed them when we are at sea four times a day."

A sub kitchen doesn't offer as much space as the galley on a destroyer, so the chefs face the challenge of cooking for the masses in tight quarters and minimizing waste.

"We pride ourselves on a lot of scratch base cooking," said Christianson. "Our breads are made fresh daily once we get out to sea. Most of our products are made from the ground up."

The closets where food is stored are little more than a shoulder's width, but the chefs say they have have 90 days worth of food while on the missions to serve more than 100 people daily.

"It is not like we have a stop in shop or a grocery store we can go to," Christianson said. "We have to be able to load our food and have a pre-planned menu and that has to last us for the entire duration."

"I know it was going to be a tight space, but I had no clue of challenges they face every day," said Robert St. John, a chef and owner of Purple Parrot Cafe who went along for the tour.

He's even impressed to see all that's done to make sure each sailor is full and happy.

"I always heard the food in the Navy was always better than the other armed services. I think being here today you can see that is the case," St. John said. "It is amazing."


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