If “Top Chef” was set on the high seas, Coast Guard Food Service Specialist 2nd Class David Blonn might have a shot.
The cook on the coastal patrol boat Albacore has had to do some of his cooking in 12-foot waves. His galley is only 12 feet by 8 feet, including all the equipment. The 6-foot-2 Blonn looks like a giant when cooking inside the small galley, and when the seas get rough and the boat is rocking back and forth, cooking a meal can seem like a monumental task in the tight space.
While some crew members might be holding on to the sides to keep from falling, Blonn is in the kitchen preparing the day’s chow for the 12-person crew aboard the cutter.
“Cooking in big seas feels like when you are sipping your coffee in the car and you hit a bump … but constantly!” Blonn said.
That would not be the time for poor knife-handling. Other normal cooking utensils also become a danger when the cutter is moving back and forth.
“I’ve avoided any major cuts but you get used to the continuous heat, splatters, minor burns … the worst is when a boiled pot spills,” Blonn said. He also wasn’t too fond of the time a fresh-baked tray of cookies fell to the floor.
But teetering office and all, Blonn loves the freedom of being the chef on the Albacore.
“I enjoy being creative and trying new things,” Blonn said. The fast tempo of the Albacore allows him to put new items in the menu for the next week, he said.
The Albacore, an 87-foot cutter that serves Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads, Va., spends about four days out of the week underway during their patrol cycle.
In the video below, Blonn explains his job as he prepares to frost red velvet cupcakes before the Albacore gets underway for four days at sea.
The smell of the cupcakes on the counter has drifted throughout the boat. Soon after, so does the smell of bacon.
“That’s morale right there,” said Lt. j.g. Anne Newton, inhaling the scent of the bacon. Newton, Albacore’s commanding officer, said the smells coming from the galley often lift the spirits of the crew when they are tired.
The menu for that day: smoked brisket sandwiches with mushrooms and onions, baked potato wedges with coleslaw … and cupcakes.