Anyone remotely familiar with U.S. Navy ratings knows they can appear, morph, merge, and disappear more quickly than you can say “Aye aye, sir.” But Sailors serving in the Culinary Specialist (CS) rating have no need to worry: as long there are manned vessels, there’ll be Sailors who need to eat. And fortunately for them, the Navy has a long-standing tradition of realizing that good food goes a long way toward good morale.
Thought men have obviously eaten aboard Naval ships ever since the U.S. Navy was created, today’s Culinary Specialist rating can trace its heritage back to 1838 and the establishment of the Ship’s Steward and Officer’s Cook ratings. As part of its major ratings overhaul in 1948, the U.S. Navy established Commissaryman from Chief Commissary Steward, Ship’s Cook, Ship’s Cook Butcher, and Baker ratings. In 1974, Commisaryman was changed to Mess Management Specialist, a title that lasted for thirty years until it became Culinary Specialist in 2004.
Sailors wishing to join the roughly 7500 men and women working as Culinary Specialists will attend the rating’s Class “A” Technical school, the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, or JCCoE, which operates as part of the Quartermaster School at Fort Lee in Virginia. Following nine weeks of training, Culinary Specialists are immediately assigned to a ship or shore station to begin expanding on the basic training they received in nutrition, food preparation, and dining services. During a twenty-year Naval career, Culinary Specialists can expect to spend about three-fifths of their duty time assigned to fleet units.