My Galley Rules
10 November 2015
Cooking on a warship is an adventure with a big responsibility.
Leading Seaman (LS) Maritime Logistics – Cook Jansen Wilks is deployed aboard HMAS Melbourne, which is patrolling the Middle East region on Operation Manitou, Australia's contribution to the multinational Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
The CMF undertakes security operations in the region, including patrols to intercept the trafficking of drugs that help fund international terrorism.
LS Wilks oversees the galley operations on Melbourne and with his team of nine cooks is responsible for providing up to 800 meals a day for the warship's crew of 230 sailors.
"My role includes mentoring the junior ranked cooks and keeping them motivated," he said.
During his naval career LS Wilks has travelled the world and cooked on HMAS Kanimbla, HMAS Tobruk and HMAS Success before his posting to Melbourne.
He said there was a big difference working on a Guided Missile Frigate (FFG) compared to the bigger, slower and more stable replenishment or troop ships he worked on previously.
"Life on this ship is fast-paced and the routine is constantly evolving, but it is the crew that make Melbourne special," he said.
"There are a lot of different personalities and because it is such a close environment we get to know each other well."
LS Wilks said it was a wish come true to be on Operation Manitou working in the Gulf of Arabia on an FFG.
"I am also proud to know we are contributing to saving people's lives and lifestyle," he said.
"It was a big eye-opener to see the 427kg of heroin seized recently by our crew, laid out on Melbourne's flight-deck for disposal.
"It made me realise there are people who value the drugs more than human life."
Melbourne's galley has its own watch system which includes a night cook who works from 6pm to 7.30am the next day preparing salads, side-dishes and desserts.
The night cook also makes the midnight meals for the watch-keepers, and then works on breakfast.
"The night cook is an integral part of the galley as they work alone and unsupervised in one of the most challenging positions for a cook at sea, LS Wilks said.
The galley team also includes a duty cook, who can swap between preparing the meat and vegetables to cooking the meals.
"Their third duty is taking over from the night cook and presenting the work they have done for lunch and dinner," LS Wilks said.
The cooks run a six-week cyclic menu to ensure the sailors on the ship have a varied and healthy diet.
The detailed menu also helps the team accurately plan for the rations required on a patrol, which can last up to six weeks.
Theme nights help break the routine of sea-life and often the senior sailor or officers will work in the galley to prepare food such as pizzas, a barbeque, curries or Italian food.
Before joining the Navy, LS Wilks was enjoying working on charter boats in Sydney with his father.
He grew up in a Spanish household where he learnt to appreciate the art of cooking and good food.
By joining Navy in 2006 he was able to combine his passions for food and being afloat.
"I was a bit lost and wasn't sure what I wanted to do for a career," LS Wilks said.
"I wanted stability, but I also wanted to do something adventurous."
"Navy has changed my life."