Good nutrition, good taste on Coast Guard Station’s Menu

Petty Officer First Class Peter Lewis poses for a photo at Coast Guard Station Point Allerton on Feb. 27, 2015. Now Chief Petty Officer Lewis, he has received the Coast Guard's Forrest E. Rednour Award for Excellence in Dining for the second year in a row. ( U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Petty Officer First Class Peter Lewis poses for a photo at Coast Guard Station Point Allerton on Feb. 27, 2015. Now Chief Petty Officer Lewis, he has received the Coast Guard’s Forrest E. Rednour Award for Excellence in Dining for the second year in a row. ( U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Story by Reid Oslin, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

Chief Petty Officer Peter Lewis has just the right recipe for keeping the 45-person crew at Coast Guard Station Point Allerton happy, healthy, and well-fed.

Lewis, food services officer for the award-winning Point Allerton galley, says that he tries to maintain a good balance of crew menu favorites along with a staple of high-nutrition meals to help keep his shipmates ready for the long hours and demanding tasks of the lifesaving profession.

The galley at Station Point Allerton was recently named winner of the Coast Guard’s Forrest E. Rednour Award for Excellence in Dining – the fourth consecutive year that the Hull galley has been so honored in the competition among all Coast Guard small shore station dining service facilities. Lewis has been in charge of the Point Allerton galley since 2014.

“Feeding the crew is all about good record keeping, maintaining an accurate inventory and staying focused on the job at hand,” said Lewis, a native of Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania who has served in the Coast Guard for almost 17 years. “We keep our eyes and ears peeled and our minds open,” he explained. “If one of the crew asks for something specific, we try to accommodate the request.

“We are always trying new recipes,” he added, “some come out good, some great and some are a waste of the paper that we printed them on. Cooking is one of those occupations where you learn the most from your mistakes. We are always learning and developing our skill set. We have good days and bad days, but all in all, I believe that we keep the crew satisfied and morale high.”

Lewis said that the crew’s favorite dishes are homemade pizza and buffalo chicken wings, but he also keeps a wary eye on good nutrition. “We have [Coast Guard] manuals that specify how many times a week we can serve the different meats, fried foods and the like, and we also do our best to keep a fully-stocked salad bar and to provide the option of at least two healthy entrée alternatives daily, in addition to our regular menu items.”

Lewis said that he also tries to steer away from too many calorie-rich desserts on his menus. “The last cook that was here loved desserts, so he made them all the time. I personally try to stay away from sweets. I may plan to provide more desserts in the future, but we do need to moderate sugar consumption in all of our diets.”

What’s the least favorite menu item? “Hot dogs,” Lewis said quickly. “Whenever we have served or tried to serve them”

What’s the greatest food service challenge at Point Allerton? “It’s serving delicious, wholesome food on a very tight budget,” admitted Lewis. “Here, it’s an all cash galley, meaning that our budget for food is completely determined by how many meals we sell [to the crew]. So we have to keep the menus very diverse to suit everyone’s taste buds, but we also need to find ways to be fiscally responsible.

“The most rewarding part of this job is seeing the smiles on our shipmate’s faces when they really enjoyed what we prepared for them,” he said.

Lewis is assisted in the Point Allerton galley by Petty Officer Second Class Joshua Kopec and younger crew members who are assigned to mess duty on a rotating basis to help with basic galley chores.

Lewis joined the Coast Guard in 2000 and was initially assigned to a 110-foot Coast Guard cutter out of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. When it came time to choose a Coast Guard specialty occupation, he applied for the Food Service Specialist School in Petaluma, California. “I knew that I wanted a job that I would be able to use my entire life and cooking always had an interest,” he said. “My mother, Cathy, is a wonderful cook, along with my grandmothers.”

As a food services specialist, he has had assignments at Coast Guard stations from Key West, Florida to Bahrain, where he completed an eight-month tour during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Six years ago, he served aboard Coast Guard Cutter SENECA, homeported in Boston, where he met his future wife Laura, a Massachusetts native. The couple was married two years ago and they are currently expecting their first child.

“Hull is such a beautiful place to be stationed,” Lewis said. “History really runs so deep here. We love the area and hope to possibly retire here when my Coast Guard career is completed.”

Retirement may still be in the distant future for Lewis, who was recently selected for advancement to Chief Petty Officer, and was frocked into his new rank on October 28 in a special ceremony held at the Hull Lifesaving Museum.

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