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Photos available for this release:
Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer.
Credit: Photo courtesy DVIDS
Leslie Jett, the MU executive chef and assistant teaching professor, prepares his students for their experience aboard the USS Boxer. Six hospitality management students will participate in the Adopt a Ship program.
Credit: Jessica Salmond, MU Cooperative Media Group
Culley Freese, a junior hospitality management major, applies strips of dough to a cornucopia form.
Published: Monday, Nov. 19, 2012
Leslie Jett, 573-884-3485
COLUMBIA, Mo.–Students from the University of Missouri will spend Thanksgiving away from their families. Six students from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ hospitality management program will be in San Diego aboard the USS Boxer, a Navy amphibious assault ship, preparing the holiday meal for the ship’s crew.
The Adopt a Ship program began in 1998 as a partnership between the Naval Supply Systems Command and the American Culinary Federation. The program provides U.S. Navy culinary teams with continuing education from civilian chefs to help them stay current with the food service industry. But the learning is a two-way street.
“The students are going to see things that they are not going to see in a classroom,” said Leslie Jett, an assistant teaching professor and executive chef for MU’s hospitality management program. “We are one of only a couple of schools that actually get to participate. It’s something they can add to their resume, but for them to be there on Thanksgiving, to understand what it is like to be on the ship, to be part of that community on a holiday instead of being with their families.”
The USS Boxer is this year’s Pacific Fleet finalist for the prestigious Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Food Service Award for outstanding food service, providing the Mizzou students an opportunity to see one of the best in the fleet.
This is the sixth time the University of Missouri has participated in the Adopt a Ship program, although it is the first since 2008. Ben Yoder, a senior from St. Louis, is excited about this opportunity.
“As soon as the opportunity came up I jumped on it,” Yoder said. “I thought it would be a great experience to broaden my education. We’ll be cooking a full meal on Thanksgiving for the troops. I won’t be with my family on Thanksgiving, but they understand and I’m doing something that is really giving back, which I think is what Thanksgiving is about.”
Senior Emma Faist, from Belleville, Ill., agrees with Yoder that this is a great opportunity to show appreciation for military.
“Being able to bring the Navy men and women a little piece of home is great,” Faist said. “They give so much to us and it’s really awesome to be able to give something back to them.”
Yoder and Faist say they are looking forward to being able teach the Navy some of what they have learned at Mizzou and learning from the culinary team as well.
“We’ll get to see how they do things on board and then share some of our programs,” Yoder said. “We are going to pool together the things that they’ve learned and the things that we’ve learned and basically just feed off of each other to share in the wealth of knowledge.”
Jett says the visit to the Boxer is a great opportunity to showcase MU’s hospitality management program. Mizzou has built a good reputation and the crew is looking forward to Jett and the students coming on board to work with them, he said.
“One of the things we are particularly going to work on is trying to eliminate the stainless steel appearance of the food line,” Jett said. “We’ll be doing some fruit and vegetable carvings and working with garnishes. The students have put together their list of things to work on with the team to add color, to add flair, to just dress up the line to make it look even more appetizing.”
Jett says that students who have gone before have stayed connected with the program because of the experience they had. Many have written to tell students how it is a unique opportunity to experience something they can’t experience anywhere else.
“It’s something they will never forget,” he said.
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