The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) hosted a “mystery box” cooking challenge today, pitting RCN cooks, culinary students, and local Ottawa chefs against each other in a head-to-head competition designed to test and showcase the navy’s brand-new ovens.
Hosted at Ottawa’s Naval Reserve Division HMCS Carleton, a shore-based unit with a non-marine version of the new oven, the event gave the two teams just three and a half hours from the reveal of the mystery box contents for them to design and execute the delivery of a main course and appetizer using the RCN’s new combi-steam ovens, specially made for Canada by Rational AG. Under pressure and needing to think on their feet, the teams were judged on criteria such as technique, waste, organization, presentation, and taste by a panel consisting of local food critics and cookbook authors, as well as Capt (N) Stephen Irwin, Director of Naval Logistics.
“We hosted this competition as a fun way to highlight the innovative cooking technology coming to RCN ships. These changes will modernize the delivery of food services onboard ships at sea and deliver food that is healthier and safer than the deep fat fryers and charbroilers. It’s a very exciting project.”
Lieutenant-Commander Deanna Wilson, Senior Staff Officer Food Services
“The RCN is well known for employing the best cooks in the Canadian Armed Forces. These state-of-the-art ovens will continue that long-standing tradition of providing healthy and hearty meals to our dedicated men and women serving on operations at sea around the world.”
Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier, Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy
• Two of these special, made-for-Canada combi-steam ovens will be installed in the galleys of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Calgary and Vancouver by the end of this summer. Within three years, all 12 Halifax-class frigates and 12 Kingston-class maritime coastal defence vessels will have this innovative cooking system onboard.
• In the Halifax-class vessels, the deep fat fryers, charbroilers, and griddle are being replaced by two combi-steam ovens. In the Kingston-class ships, the deep fat fryer and grill will be replaced by one combi-steam oven and a portable dual induction cook top.
• These ovens use a combination of steam, hot air technology, and an intelligent cooking system to deliver a higher quality product in a shorter period of time. The combi-steam cooking method is considered healthier as it eliminates deep fat frying and charbroiling, which are known to produce carcinogens.
• The ovens are safer than cooking with hot oil, and the Canadian model has additional safety features to avoid shattering and damage if struck during high seas.
The ovens result in less food waste and are more energy efficient, which support the RCN’s green initiatives.