Face of Defense: Filipino-American Sailor Cooks Up Morale
ABOARD USS GEORGE WASHINGTON IN THE PHILIPPINE SEA, Nov. 19, 2013 – A former “Iron Chef” competitor is cooking up morale during Operation Damayan.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Edgar Tandoy and his wife and three kids all have personal ties with the George Washington Strike Group's relief efforts in support of the Philippine government and military.
Tandoy is a native of East Bagong Barrio Kalookan City, Philippines, and his wife has 10 family members who live in the areas affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.
"My wife's family has been affected by the typhoon," Tandoy said. "They lived next to the coast and lost their house. Food and clean water are fairly scarce, because they are far away from any major cities."
Although Tandoy's family was in an area with a severely damaged civilian communications system, he said, he knows they are alive.
"My brother-in-law was able to contact us and let us know they were all right," he added. "We are currently awaiting their second call, although we do not know when that will be."
Tandoy cooks up meals served daily aboard the ship that contribute to the crew’s morale.
"He puts a lot of passion into everything he cooks," said Navy Chief Petty Officer Matthew McFarlane, Tandoy's leading chief. "I have not heard one complaint. He is an extremely good cook."
Tandoy won a competition aboard USS Blue Ridge in 2010 that sent him to Vladivostok, Russia, to compete one-on-one with one of Russia's top chefs to earn the title of "Iron Chef of Russia."
"In order to prepare for the competition, I had to prepare my senses," he said. "I had my personal motto: 'If it doesn't smell right, it doesn't taste right.' So I quit smoking, because it made everything smell off and taste bland."
“Iron Chef” is a Japanese ingredient-themed cooking show in which a competitor challenges one of the show's chefs to a cook-off. Whoever creates the best dish after 90 minutes, based on taste and presentation, wins.
"Our theme of the night was curry," Tandoy said. "When I won, I felt tired, but very proud, because my son, daughter and little one were so happy for me. When I cook, I cook for others."
Tandoy was offered a promotion as head cook in the commanding officer's galley, but he said he respectfully turned it down to cook for the crew on the mess decks.
"I turned down the offer because I felt that I needed to cook for a larger group of people," he explained. "My food is meant to be enjoyed by a mass of people. I am just a regular cook, not a Russian Iron Chef."