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Hospital cooks train with professional chef
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- University of Alaska Anchorage chef John Layton shows Senior Airmen Amity Smith of the 673rd Medical Support Squadron how to create a pie crust for a turkey pot pie in the hospital dining facility 23 August 2012. Layton is teaching Airmen from the 673d MDSS about creating innovations out of left overs in the kitchen. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Airman 1st Class Omari Bernard)
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Hospital cooks train with professional chef

Posted 8/30/2012   Updated 8/30/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Omari Bernard
JBER Public Affairs

8/30/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Chef John Layton, an adjunct professor from the University of Alaska Anchorage visited JBER to continue teaching Airmen of the 673d Medical Support Squadron dining facility Aug. 23.

His mission: to train inexperienced Airmen and provide culinary expertise in the kitchen.
"We had issues with inexperienced people in the kitchen," said Tech. Sgt. Brenda Rancourt, of the 673 MDSS. "We looked for creative ways to teach them."

"Since funding is tight, not all Airmen have the luxury to temporarily deploy for training," Rancourt said.

She began searching for alternative methods. The local solution she found was a UAA culinary boot camp.

She contacted the university and began planning to hire a culinary chef to teach at the hospital dining facility.

"Rather than just sending one person to receive training, instead we are able to bring a chef here to actually do training for all of the staff," said Air Force Lt. Col. Heather Nelson of the 673d MDSS. "I always want opportunities to train our staff."

A culinary professional and professor, chef Layton is from Palmer, and served in the Army; he also managed a dining facility on JBER-Richardson.

As such, he is familiar with the battles faced in the kitchen.

"The health of the troops is what it's about," he said.

Layton taught Airmen basic knife skills such as julienning and large and small dicing, and introduced three recipes for nutritious soups and vegetable stocks from scratch.
He supplied lessons on how to reduce waste such as turning leftovers from sliced turkey into turkey potpie and using a scale to reduce waste.

Layton taught Airmen to create healthy, nutritious and appealing foods.

"Most people eat with their eyes first," Rancourt said. "If it looks good then they want to try it, if we put something out that does not look good it ends up becoming waste."

"If you paid for it, you need to use it," Layton explained. "Don't waste it, if you have leftover turn it into something else. Cost control is paramount."

The mission of the 673d MDSS dining facility is to provide nutritious and healthy foods for patients and staff, following the fit-to-fight principles.

In the time between the first lesson and the second, there has been marked improvement, Nelson said.

The staff has become more creative from soup to cookies, Nelson said. "They have learned creative methods to use up foods instead of losing money as food waste."

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