Coast Guard Motor City dining facility wins award

Chief Petty Officer Kevin Asher and Coast Guard auxiliarist William Dyda pose for a photo in the Station Belle Isle dining facitity. The Belle Isle dining facility was award the Forrest O. Rednour Award Memorial Award for Excellence in Food Services in the small ashore category. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

Chief Petty Officer Kevin Asher and Coast Guard auxiliarist Bill Dyda pose for a photo in the Station Belle Isle dining facitity.
The Belle Isle dining facility was awarded the Forrest O. Rednour Memorial Award for Excellence in Food Services in the small ashore category.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

It has been often said that the secret to success at a small boat station is to have a happy crew. For many, that means good food. The food service specialists at Coast Guard Station Belle Isle, Michigan, not only pick the right ingredients to make the crew happy; they have picked the right ingredients to be named the best dining facility in the Coast Guard.

Due to their key ingredients along with a dash of Detroit-themed decorations, the members of the station were awarded the 2013 Forrest O. Rednour Memorial Award for Excellence in Food Services in the small ashore category.

The award is presented annually to recognize Coast Guard dining facilities that exemplify the best in food service professionalism. Although the award program has been in existence since 1995, in 2008 it was renamed in honor of the World War II era ships cook 2nd class who heroically helped rescue survivors of a torpedoed transport vessel only to later lose his life in the line of duty.

Each dining facility is evaluated against nine criteria: paperwork administration; menu planning and food preparation; food presentation, serving and food acceptability; food conservation, sanitation and safety; purchasing, receiving and storage; supervision and training; health promotion initiatives; command attention and relations in food service; and foodservice innovation.

Lunch at the station consisted of grilled chicken smothered with bacon and cheese accompanied with a loaded baked potato and grill corn on the cob. The after lunch desert consisted of brownies made by Dyda but they did not last long enough to get a photo of.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

Lunch at the station consisted of grilled chicken smothered with bacon and cheese accompanied with a loaded baked potato and grill corn on the cob.
The after lunch desert consisted of brownies made by Dyda but they did not last long enough to get a photo of.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

With Chief Petty Officer Kevin Asher and Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Gibson cooking meals such as Southern style ribs and cheesy bacon smothered chicken, it is easy to see how the crew enjoys eating here. But the galley crew’s secret ingredient is Coast Guard auxiliarist Bill Dyda, who volunteers at the station twice a week.

In April 2013, Asher held an Auxiliary chef course at the station hoping to entice an Auxliliary member to volunteer long term. It worked and two weeks later Dyda was on the schedule.

“I called Asher the following week hoping to beat the other Auxiliary members who wanted to volunteer and volunteered,” said Dyda.

“The first time I worked at the station was for three days straight and I about had a heart attack. I told Asher that I could only do it for two days and the rest is history. I have worked Sundays and Mondays for more than a year now.”

Dyda, a recently retired teacher, became a member of the Auxiliary after being approached by Auxiliary member Norman Raymond.

Coast Guard auxiliarist Bill Dyda grills chicken for lunch at Coast Guard Station Belle Isle. Dyda volunteers at the station as a chef twice a week. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

Coast Guard auxiliarist Bill Dyda grills chicken for lunch at Coast Guard Station Belle Isle.
Dyda volunteers at the station as a chef twice a week.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

“Raymond came up to me at an Elks meeting and asked if I like boats and wanted to do something good for the community,” said Dyda.

“I have now been a member of the Auxiliary for almost three years.”
Not only does Dyda volunteer his time every Sunday and Monday, he volunteers on holidays and other big events.

“I am especially lucky to have found Dyda,” says Asher.

“With him in the kitchen twice a week, it affords me the opportunity to accomplish other things at the station such as paperwork and remodeling.”

The three chefs not only make food the crew like to eat, they have made the galley a place the crew enjoys.

They have completely remodeled the mess deck and some parts of the galley. They have repainted all the walls and tiled the floors. They took out rotted wood shelving in the walk in pantry and added new metal shelving.

“When I first got here the mess deck was dreary looking,” said Chief Warrant Officer Robert Clark, the station’s officer-in-charge.

“These guys have done a good job replacing it all, there used to be old shaggy carpet and rubber on the walls.”

Members of Coast Guard Station Belle Isle and members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary eat lunch in the station’s Motor City-themed dining facility. The station was awarded the 2013 Forrest O. Rednour Memorial Award for Excellence in Food Services in the small ashore category. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

Members of Coast Guard Station Belle Isle and members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary eat lunch in the station’s Motor City-themed dining facility.
The station was awarded the 2013 Forrest O. Rednour Memorial Award for Excellence in Food Services in the small ashore category.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

The crew has also decorated the mess deck with a Detroit-based automotive theme. There are antique metal signs advertising Ford Motor, Chevrolet, Chrysler Plymouth and Camaro on the walls.

“I used to not want to eat in here,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Chegin, the station’s officer-of-the-day.

“Not only is the food good, it is a feel-good place to be, and I have my special seat too.”

The mess deck has a large window over looking the Detroit River into Canada. In front of the window are four round chrome metal bar tables depicting Ford Motor Company with matching shiny vinyl bar stools. This gives the mess deck a 1950s roadside dinner look.

With a dining facility this nice and great cooks, sometimes problems still arise.

“There are days where we spend hours preparing boxed meals because the crews are on the boats all day at events for search and rescue,” said Dyda.

Belle Isle hosts two main events each year. The hydroplane races are held the last week in June, and then the 4th of July fireworks show happens a week later. Both of these events require boat crews to spend countless hours on patrol. On these days when the crew is unavailable to dine at the station, the dining facility members make boxed meals and deliver them to the boat crews either by meeting them at local docks or by boat.

“The cooks here have a drive to improve, not only in ourselves, but we try to inspire others to improve as well,” said Gibson.

“We not only do what needs to be done, we each have a drive to do better.”

Bellow, the food specialist of Belle Isle share their favorite recipes and biggest hits, grilled salmon and baby back ribs.

Gibson’s favorite recipe to cook for the crew is grilled salmon fillets.

Coast Guard auxiliarist Bill Dyda, a volunteer chef at Coast Guard Station Belle Isle, prepares brownies for the crew to eat after lunch in the station’s galley. With Dyda’s help, the station was awarded the 2013 Forrest O. Rednour Memorial Award for Excellence in Food Services in the small ashore category. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

Coast Guard auxiliarist Bill Dyda, a volunteer chef at Coast Guard Station Belle Isle, prepares brownies for the crew to eat after lunch in the station’s galley.
With Dyda’s help, the station was awarded the 2013 Forrest O. Rednour Memorial Award for Excellence in Food Services in the small ashore category.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin

“This has become my favorite recipe to cook for the crew after completing nutrition school and learned about healthier alternatives and methods of preparation,” said Gibson.

Grilled salmon fillets:

salmon fillets, cleaned
salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 stick butter per 3lbs of salmon
thin slices of lemon
nonstick cooking spray

Clean, rinse and pat dry the salmon. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Dot the cavity generously with butter.

Tear off a piece of foil large enough to wrap the fish. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Place several lemon slices on foil and lay fish on top. Place several more slices of lemon on top. Wrap salmon, folding edges and ends tightly.

Place on hot grill, give 5-10 minutes in the heat to penetrate foil and cook 10 minutes for each inch of fish thickness. When done, remove and unwrap cooked fish, discard lemon and salmon skin before serving.

Asher’s favorite recipe to cook for the crew is Baby Back Ribs.

“These ribs are so tender and the meat falls right off the bone,” said Asher.

“Most people believe that you can only eat ribs at a restaurant, but this recipe is so easy to make.”

Baby back ribs:

ribs
barbecue sauce to cover ribs generously
nonstick cooking spray

Tear off pieces of aluminum foil big enough to enclose each portion of ribs. Spray each piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Brush the ribs liberally with barbeque sauce and place each portion in its own piece of foil. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

Place ribs wrapped tightly in the foil onto grill for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove from foil and add more sauce, if desired.

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