Commander, Submarine Group Two


USS California Culinary Specialist Learns California Cuisine from Five-Star Chef

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (NNS) -- A USS California (SSN 781) culinary specialist participated in an once-in-a-lifetime cooking experience during a one-week understudy here, beginning Feb. 4.

The week-long culinary understudy at the Crowne Plaza Hotel was provided by the Santa Barbara Navy League. Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Justin Cramer, of Moore, Okla., reflected on this opportunity to expound on his skills and how the training will benefit the boat's crew.

"This opportunity presents overwhelming joy to me," said Cramer. "I was speechless when I found out and for me it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I never imagined I would participate in something like this when I joined the U.S. Navy."

Patricia Westberg, vice president, Santa Barbara Navy League reflected on this opportunity for the young chef.

"The Santa Barbara Navy League is honored to have CSSN Justin Cramer visit Santa Barbara and we hope that through his California cuisine training at the Crowne Plaza, he will be able to create a west coast climate on board the boat through menu planning and selections, so the crew will have a taste of our great state several times a month," said Westberg.

Executive Chef Luis Martinez will teach Cramer a variety of cooking-related skill sets, such as culinary arts and advanced food preparation.

"For the next three years I will have the opportunity to apply what I learned in Santa Barbara, bringing back valuable skills to benefit myself and my boat," said Cramer.

Cramer joined the Navy at the age of 23 in January 2011. He chose the culinary specialist rating from years of experience watching his parents enjoy the art of cooking.

"We have had a generation of five-star cooks in our family; it made sense for me to come into the U.S. Navy as a culinary specialist," said Cramer.

Lt. Angus McCallum, supply officer aboard USS California reflected on Cramer's selection.

"Seaman Cramer is going to be the bridge between the recently commissioned California and the Santa Barbara community," said McCallum. "With so much of the country between the boat and the city, this first opportunity forms a tangible bond between California and her home state."

McCallum added that Cramer is a valuable asset to their team. Despite being the most junior culinary specialist in California's Supply Department, Cramer was chosen to participate in the understudy based solely on his stellar performance since arriving aboard the newest Virginia-class attack submarine, said McCallum.

"After being on board for one month, Cramer qualified in all culinary specialist watch stations, which led to the selection as the culinary specialist of the fourth quarter in 2011," said McCallum.