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> May 13, 2006 – SPOTLIGHT ON…Kristina Serfass, A Master Chef Shares Her Secrets
post May 15 2006, 05:36 PM
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May 13, 2006 – Aboard the Healy
Longitude: 173 23.070 W, Latitude: 62 24.497 N

Kristina Serfass has a sweet job on the Healy: Besides being the night baker on the ship, she is also the Healy’s senior cook and supervisor of the galley (the ship’s kitchen). When the ship is filled to capacity with Coast Guard crewmembers and science staff, she and the other cooks have to be ready to feed 152 people. That’s one very tall order.

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Kristina poses beside a shelf full of bulk items.

As a cook on the Healy for two and a half years, Kristina is used to long days. Cooks have to get up at 0500 (5:00 AM) to start breakfast so it will be ready by 0700. Then, they have only three hours to clean up and prepare lunch. After that, it’s on to dinner. Fourteen-hour workdays finally come to an end for the cooks at around 1900 hours (7:00 PM).

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I toured the kitchen at roughly 1500 hours (3:00 PM). Already, a cook was preparing dinner.

What’s the biggest challenge that a cook faces on the Healy? Coming up with a meal menu that will please all passengers onboard. But with Kristina’s background – she has an associate’s degree in culinary arts and completed a required five-week-long Coast Guard cooking school – she manages to whip up delicious treats. Just last night she thought up a cupcake recipe that everyone was raving about, one that was full of tiny little chunks of cherries.

So how does one even begin to load up a ship with all of the necessary food for the 6 months or so that it might be underway? With lots of planning! Using a military recipe book called the AFRS (Air Force Recipe Service) as a guide, the cooks plan out 8 weeks worth of meals. They’ll use that same recipe cycle for the next 8 weeks, and the next 8, and so on until the ship is due back to its home port. By figuring out how much of each ingredient they need for one 8-week cycle, they can calculate how much they will need to get them through the whole cruise.

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Can after can of 108-ounce beans line the shelves of the ship’s “dry stores.”

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Within the depths of the Healy, tons of tomatoes are stowed in a walk-in refrigerator.

Roughly 98 percent of the food cooked onboard the Healy is made from scratch. As proof, Kristina took me on a tour of the maze of food storage areas, from huge freezers to thawing areas and dry storage, filled with bulk cans of beans, bags of rice, and boxes upon boxes of produce.

Kristina’s favorite part of the job? Making people happy by cooking the foods that they enjoy.
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