Story by MC3 Kevin Murphy
Photo by MC3 Lex Wenberg

Tucked away behind the congested aft galley is a space many Sailors don’t often see but the food baked there Sailors often eat.

Baking various pastries from cinnamon rolls to cookies and cakes the crew from supply department’s S-2 division’s bake shop works around the clock preparing and baking delicacies for more than 3,000 Sailors.

“I like to bake something, and see the smiles it puts on people’s faces while hearing them say, ‘that’s really good,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Lindsey Ocampo, who has worked in the bake shop for two years.

Receiving a compliment for giving Sailors a taste of sweetness, does not happen without a day of toiling in hot temperatures with ovens, food processers and mixing machines.

“The temperatures aren’t as bad now, but I would say the most difficult part of the job is dealing with the heat,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Matthew Ryback. “Especially opening up the oven and feeling the heat blow right in your face.”

The Culinary Specialists (CS’s) in the bake shop at times act like craftsman, taking ingredients like flour, baking powder, yeast and water and turning them into fresh bread.

“It doesn’t happen very often, but we have made more than 2,000 loaves of bread for the ship from scratch,” said Ocampo.

“We also bake bread to help garnish and decorate the serving lines,” said Ryback.

For every ceremony aboard Stennis, there is always a large cake and a festivity of eating afterwards. The crew bakes and frosts cakes for retirement ceremonies, multi-cultural heritage month celebrations and other activities.

“The thing I like most is decorating the cakes. I like to be creative and artistic,” said Ryback.

Ryback said one of the most impressive cakes he’s seen prepared aboard Stennis was the ‘Carrier’ cake baked for Stennis’ last change of command ceremony.

“It’s a challenge to make,” said Ryback. “We stack ten cakes high and then carve them out in the shape of a ship, frost it and hope that it holds together. Before our scheduled Philippines port visit they had us practice another ‘Carrier’ cake, but it was too hot and the cakes just fell apart.”

The bake shop runs through supplies to satisfy Sailors’ needs for sweets going through nearly 30 cases of cookie dough a week. In order to get a perfectly baked cookie, the CS’s cook them in a conventional oven at six minutes for each side at 325 degrees.

“There are a variety of flavors like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter cookies,” said Ocampo.

The bake shop enhances Sailors’ time underway by providing a delicacy to the crew to enjoy during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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