Charitable chef serves USS Chicago sailors

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Charitable chef serves USS Chicago sailors

by: Jonathan Cummings | .
published: December 22, 2015

The Tournament Players Club (TPC) in Potomac, MD is again doing without their chef this holiday season.  He was called on deployment.
Well, sort of.

For a second year in a row David Trevelino, the executive chef for the toney Washington DC area golf club, traded in serving his holiday culinary delights to country club members for serving those in uniform.  Starting last year, Chef David has packed his aprons, his secret spices and special cooking oils, hopped a plane with wife Linda and flown halfway around the world to bring a little holiday cheer to the crew and families of the Squadron Fifteen, USS CHICAGO (SSN 721), based in Guam.

The USS CHICAGO was not randomly chosen.  David and Linda’s son – Andrew - joined the Navy in 2013, with the goal of being a gunner’s mate.  Unfortunately, imperfect eyesight nixed those plans.  Instead Andrew found himself volunteering for submarine duty and signing up, ironically, as a culinary specialist.  His first tour was on-board SSN 721.

It started as a simple family holiday visit, in 2014. In the end, though, the visit grew into an idea where Chef David, assisted by son Andrew, would provide a holiday feast for CHICAGO.
David’s start in the food preparation world was simple.

As a young man he was introduced to cooking by assisting in the kitchen of his uncle’s downtown Philadelphia Italian restaurant.  Before long David graduated to bigger things - owning his own restaurant, running food services for a series of large country clubs and finally to his current executive chef position overseeing his team at the TPC’s state-of-the-art kitchen.
“I fell in love with cooking and 35 years later I’m still having fun doing it,” says Trevelino.  

I guess so considering the culinary awards Chef Dave has racked up.

His love of cooking has sure given enjoyment to others based on feedback from members, guests, many PGA and senior PGA tour players and a few denizens of a little house on Pennsylvania Ave named Barak Obama and Bill Clinton – all of whom have enjoyed David’s preparations.

But back to the South Pacific.  The Guam event was green-lighted at the highest levels of the PGA.

“I am very impressed by Chef David’s selflessness these past two holiday seasons in traveling to Guam to prepare meals for our men and women in uniform,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “He is an ideal representative of all that the PGA TOUR stands for in his willingness to help others.”
For CSSN(SS) Andrew Trevelino and many others who serve onboard subs, their workplace is truly unique.  Prior to extended deployments a sailor must get his family affairs in order, stuff six months of life into a tight single duffle bag, and trade uniforms for poopy suits.
Millions of years of Circadian Rhythm are thrown out the window as the Silent Service rudely shortens a sailor’s 24-hour day to 18 hours - 6 on and 12 off.  But off duty, port and starboard watchstanders are afforded little time to themselves.  Their “off” 12 is filled with the demands of training, drilling, cramming for quals, field-daying, endless repairs, washing clothes, and, hopefully, squeezing in a few hours of rack-time before they get up and do it all over again.  

Submarine meals, served every 6 hours 24/7, tend to be good.  They can sometimes make or break morale while underway.  Meals like Friday sliders, Saturday dinner surf and turf and pizza at midrats are traditions in the Silent Service.

Good meals while they last.

By the end of a 3-month deployment though, most submarine meals come from cans.  You can imagine the eager anticipation of the crew for shore leave, to say nothing of being served a holiday feast.

Chef David’s preparations for the Guam visits rivaled those of commands mobilizing for major campaigns.  Over the two years the chef had to plan and ultimately execute preparing something north of a 1000 gourmet meals - arranged from DC and served on the opposite side of the planet.

Funding was the first consideration.

With the support of the TPC management and club membership, Trevelino held charity dinners complete with silent auctions.  Additional financial donations, many from the membership, quickly grew the “Guam war-chest” into the tens of thousands of dollars.  Shirts, money clips, crystal mementos and other presents to be given out as part of the gala were donated by the TPC management and others.

Event planning was next.

A Christmas Day breakfast, lunch and dinner all directed by Chef David in the tight confines of the USS CHICAGO galley and served in the wardroom and crew mess was planned.  In addition, a New Year’s gourmet banquet cooked and served by David at the base MWR club -Top O The Mar – would cap off the gala.

Now the preparations.

Google searches identified Guam vendors and fellow chefs.  Contacts were made and orders for locally available items placed.  Items not available on island were ordered and shipped to Guam.  Special items like saffron and truffle oil Chef David arranged to carry over in his luggage.  Equipment, reservations and logistics were secured.  Schedules were matched.  Even legal issues were addressed as the entire event required pre-approval from the JAG at CINCPACFLT.

Even highly successful campaigns are not without their hiccups and David’s event was no exception.

Stateside shipments arrived shorted, requiring scrambling to make last minute additional buys of local goods.  Also, in the middle of the New Year’s meal last year, the power went out, requiring 3-hours of challenging candlelight cooking.

Despite these, both 2014 and 2015 events came off in wonderful fashion.  The Trevelinos got to spend Christmas together and the crew and families of CHICAGO got delicious Xmas treats.

Highlights of the 2014 gala menu include: grilled asparagus, roasted garlic potatoes, crab soufflé, lobster, filet mignon, and assorted deserts.  2015 was just as good featuring: jumbo shrimp cocktail, Caesar and Harvest salad, roasted fingerling potatoes, crab cakes, lobster mac and cheese, prime New York strip steak and pastries donated locally by the Hyatt Regency and Pacific Star Hotels.

“Your generosity has contributed significantly toward raising and maintaining high morale during the holiday season onboard CHICAGO,” wrote the CHICAGO commanding officer CDR Lance Thompson in his note of thanks to Chef David.

Yes, the members at TPC may be without their chef this Xmas but they can also be quite proud that their small sacrifice has left the family and crew of a deployed US submarine with, collectively, quite a large grin.
Like one from ear to ear.

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