Coast Guard cadets get some­thing cook­ing

Life skills class sends them to restau­rant to learn how to make their own food

The Day - - FRONT PAGE - By JU­LIA BERGMAN Day Staff Writer

East Lyme — In a few months, the Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2019 will be out in the fleet, liv­ing on their own. While their four years at the academy have pre­pared them well for be­ing lead­ers in the ser­vice, there’s one thing it hasn’t taught them: how to cook.

Twenty first-class cadets, or se­niors — 17 men and three women — took part in a cook­ing class Mon­day night at Flan­ders Fish Mar­ket & Restau­rant as part of the Life 101 pro­gram, spon­sored by the academy’s alumni as­so­ci­a­tion to teach life skills to cadets.

The cook­ing classes are be­ing of­fered to groups of 20 cadets on three sep­a­rate Mon­day nights. This week’s class fo­cused on seafood. Cadets learned how to make three dif­fer­ent meals, which take about 25 min­utes and cost un­der $25: Shrimp scampi over an­gel hair pasta, seared sword­fish over white bean ragu, and black­ened tuna tacos.

Flan­ders head chef Olivia Formica led the course, walk­ing the cadets through sim­ple cook­ing tech­niques like how to peel and clean shrimp, us­ing pasta wa­ter to make a sauce, and to pat dry fish be­fore cook­ing it.

“Here they are about to go into fleet and they have no real ex­pe­ri­ence cook­ing for them­selves,” said Tara King, vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­cants and mar­ket­ing for the alumni as­so­ci­a­tion.

While many col­lege stu­dents usu­ally move off cam­pus by the time they are se­niors, cadets live in dor­mi­to­ries all four years.

All of their meals are paid for. But se­niors usu­ally eat break­fast and lunch on cam­pus, and or­der out at night and on week­ends.

“All I know how to cook is Chi­nese food really be­cause that’s what I grew up eat­ing, that’s what my mom cooked,” said Cadet Wil­son Zhou, 22. “I thought I’d take this op­por­tu­nity to learn how to cook other things, like we never used but­ter, ever. Or cheese.”

Cadets took turns cook­ing. While they did, their class­mates snapped pic­tures of them with their phones, and of the fin­ished prod­uct. Many cadets said they had never really cooked be­fore.

When one male cadet tried to flip the shrimp scampi in a pan, af­ter a first suc­cess­ful at­tempt, a big por­tion ended up in the stove top. His class­mates joked he got too con­fi­dent af­ter the first try. “I would’ve done the same thing,” one male cadet told him.

Formica told the cadets a good rule of thumb is to cook fish for 10 min­utes per inch of thick­ness. A male cadet promptly wrote that tip down in his recipe packet.

Samuel Lowe, 22, said he was ready to try cook­ing some of the meals on his own like the black­ened tuna tacos.

“It showed that it’s not as hard as it looks,” Lowe said

As for other life skills he’d like to learn, “I think we’re all pre­pared pretty well, this is just some­thing nice to know how to do,” he said.

SARAH GOR­DON/THE DAY

Olivia Formica, right, head chef at Flan­ders Fish Mar­ket, and Coast Guard Academy se­niors Syd­ney Jon­son and Michael Bishop laugh as shrimp scampi falls on the stove dur­ing a “Three Square Meals” cook­ing class on Mon­day at the restau­rant in East Lyme.

SARAH GOR­DON/THE DAY

From left, Trip Jack­son, Zach Baker and Nick Frys­tak try seared sword­fish over white bean ragu. The pro­gram is part of the academy’s Life101 Pro­gram de­signed to pro­vide real-life skills to cadets.

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