BANGOR, Wash. -- Thanks to one of New Orleans' top chefs, Sailors from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) got to experience a taste of home cooking on Sept. 28. Tenney Flynn, co-owner and executive chef of GW Fins, regarded as one of the best seafood restaurants in the nation, stopped by Louisiana's galley as part of a namesake visit and teamed up with the boat's culinary specialists to prepare a New Orleans-inspired lunch for the crew. The result was a midday meal of browned finfish, Louisiana barbecue shrimp, grilled chicken and GW Fins' signature mashed sweet potatoes, capped by a dessert of white chocolate and caramel bread pudding. It made for a boat of satisfied Sailors - and one proud chef. "I know that every couple of years, a chef from Louisiana gets to come out here to cook for the crew, so this is a great honor," said Flynn.
While the Submarine Force is known for having the best food in the Navy, Flynn's visit for lunch yielded more than the usual amount of anticipation for Louisiana Sailors. "We've been looking forward to it all week," said Cmdr. Larry Varnadore, Blue Crew commanding officer of Louisiana. "It's a great opportunity for our culinary specialists to learn from a pro like Chef Flynn." The work began right after breakfast, as Flynn brought aboard the ingredients for his signature dishes, along with 75 pounds of grouper and 20 pounds of jumbo crab meat donated by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. Soon, Louisiana's galley was filled with the aroma of fish fillets on the grill and bread pudding in the oven, as well as authentic Louisiana shrimp from the boat's own supply - a vital ingredient for the meal, according to Flynn, a strong advocate for seafood from the Gulf of Mexico region. "Being an ambassador for Louisiana seafood is great," said Flynn. "'Grown local' is a buzzword at restaurants these days. Well, we don't grow a lot of stuff down in Louisiana, but what we do grow is seafood." As the meal was cooking, Flynn offered instruction and exchanged techniques with culinary specialists from Louisiana and USS Michigan (SSGN 727). "This was a lot of fun, it really was," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Larry Risher, who has been assigned to Louisiana's Blue Crew for five years. "It's a nice change from the routine, and change can be good." The lunch itself got a unanimous thumbs-up from Louisiana's Sailors. "If I could, I'd give him a set of anchors right now and make him our top culinary specialist," joked Senior Chief Machinist's Mate (SS) Joseph Rudofski, Blue Crew chief of the boat. "Seriously, this was an incredible meal." Added Senior Chief Machinist's Mate (SS) Jason Clough, "We're very grateful Chef Flynn came out to do this for us." For Flynn, the feeling is mutual. "I've lived in New Orleans for 20 years, but after getting the opportunity to do this for the crew of the Louisiana, I can tell my fellow residents, 'I'm qualified now,'" said Flynn. The 18th and final Ohio-class SSBN, Louisiana is one of eight ballistic missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the survivable leg of the nation's strategic deterrent forces.