When Culinary Specialist 1st Class Stephanie R. Cooper, USS Forrest Sherman, got the call the day before Halloween, she wasn't sure if it was a trick or a treat. Did Rachael Ray really want her to appear as a guest cook on her show?
When her former senior chief called to notify her, she was sure he was putting her on. Only he wasn't. He had indeed dropped her name and she had subsequently been nominated and then confirmed to cook on the show, and she was ecstatic.
Rachael Ray did indeed want her on the show.
The show was saluting veterans with their first-ever "Armed Forces Cook-Off!" Service men and women from all five military branches cooked their best 30-minute meal for the show.
"We think of it as an opportunity, any day of the week that we can work for our service members here at our show," said Rachael Ray. "So, for us, Veteran's day comes several times a year."
As hard as it was for Cooper to believe, it was even harder for her mother. It wasn't until Cooper sent her a selfie from New York that her mother had called her screaming in disbelief.
"She was excited and crying," said Cooper. "She was so worked up that she accidently hung up in my face!"
Cooper is used to feeding a large crew, but she has never done it for such a large audience.
"It was exciting," said Cooper. "It was something that I've never experienced before. It's surreal. I'm grateful for the opportunity. I really am."
Cooper, who has been in the Navy for 11 years, was nervous about the being a part of the show, but mostly just excited. To prepare, she sent in the recipe she planned to prepare and then practiced making the meal.