There is so much more to the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program (AACAP) catering team than just cooking.

While up in Gapuwiyak on AACAP 2022, the 1st Catering Company team from the 10th Force Support Battalion have been taking every opportunity to immerse themselves in the local community and learn from their culture.

In return, using extensive skills developed while training young soldiers, the contingent catering commander, Sergeant Nathan Judd, has been conducting hospitality lessons for members of the Gapuwiyak community. 

“Three days a week, I’ve been conducting hospitality training at the aged-care facility with up to 14 students from the community,” Sergeant Nathan Judd said.

“We’ve been giving lessons on creating healthy and nutritious meals using ingredients, which are available locally.

“There is only one store here in Gapuwiyak, so we have been using only ingredients which we guarantee are available here.”

Following a lesson plan, Sergeant Judd has been training the students in phases.

“The first phase is teaching basic kitchen hygiene, using hairnets and aprons and basic knife skills,” Sergeant Judd said.

“Phase two is different preparation techniques, types and ways to cut veggies and meat and different methods of cooking with frying pans, grills and stir frying.

“Phase three is the meal preparation itself, where we make more than enough to have a meal there and for the students to bring some home.”

Army soldier Sergeant Nathan Judd, right, teaches Gapuwiyak community member Melanie Nungudulpuy new hospitality skills. Photo: Corporal Lucas Petersen

Having a love of cooking for as long as she can remember, Gapuwiyak local Melanie Nungudulpuy is one of the trainees who has appreciated the ability to expand her cooking skills and try different foods through the hospitality training.

“I love cooking and I like to cook different food for my family,” Melanie Nungudulpuy said.

“The lessons have inspired me to try new foods and try cooking those foods at home.

“I cook spaghetti bolognaise at home but when we made it in a lesson it was different and really good, and when I took it home, my two daughters loved it.

“My parents also love the food that I make during the lessons and they always tell me to bring more.”

For Sergeant Judd, the beauty about the training has been that it is reciprocal.

“The students have been teaching us traditional cooking methods, taking us crabbing and fishing and how they add their own culinary flair,” Sergeant Judd said.

“Many houses don’t have ovens or fridges, so there is a lot of open fire cooking, which has been fascinating to learn about.”

In addition to the hospitality training, the catering team have also been immersing themselves into the local culture.

“We have a Mala meeting every Thursday with community members and leaders, where we provide morning tea to facilitate open discussion between the Army contingent and the Gapuwiyak community,” Sergeant Judd said.

“We’ve also participated in football games on Friday and Saturday, the girls have been attending women’s business, we’ve gone to workshops to make spears. The list goes on.

“It’s hospitality training, but it’s so much more than that. I know that the students and their family are going to eat well that day and if that’s how I make a difference, I’m happy.”

Sergeant Judd and his catering team are anticipated to stay in Gapuwiyak until the end of October.

For more information on AACAP, go to www.facebook.com/ArmyAACAP