Combating hunger for hundreds of Australian troops in the Middle East is no small task, but 12 Air Force chefs have risen to the challenge.
Drawn from Air Force bases such as Amberley, Darwin and Tindal, the chefs have been deployed on Operation Accordion to support the contracted workforce responsible for feeding ADF personnel.
For most of the deployed catering team, this is their first overseas operational deployment.
Chef Corporal Aaron Popko, of No. 17 Squadron, said he and his team were working hard to provide a good meal service for their fellow personnel.
“We are cooking for anywhere between 500 to 900 people,” Corporal Popko said.
“We normally start around four in the morning for breakfast and then for lunch as well."
Corporal Popko said it was good to give troops a taste of home.
“My favourite meal to cook so far is chicken parmigiana – it’s an Aussie icon pub meal,” Corporal Popko said.
“Being here, I think it’s good for other troops to see us behind the servery – we always have a smile on our faces.
“You don’t know what they've been doing or the day they’ve had, so we always try to have a smile on our face and give them a nice hot meal.”
Corporal Popko said he enjoyed being able to get back in the kitchen and put his culinary skills into action.
“At RAAF Base Tindal, I’m in more of a supervisor role but here I get to be the one cooking again,” Corporal Popko said.
Leading Aircraftwoman Ashley Brown, of No. 23 Squadron RAAF Base Amberley, said working with the Serco catering staff had given her the opportunity to learn some new culinary skills.
“I’ve been in defence for four years now and this is my first deployment – I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” Leading Aircraftwoman Brown said.
“Working with Serco has been a great experience – they are from a lot of different backgrounds and cultures so they have a lot of different recipes we haven’t seen before.
“It will be great to take them back home.”
This deployment highlights the important role ADF catering personnel provide to capability in support of ADF operations.