6. The Ney Award

In WESTPAC there was an honor awarded each year called the Ney Award. It was for the best feeding ship in WESTPAC. I have no idea how this award originated but, as I remember, the PICTOR was given the award for several years running during my tour aboard. Of course, we were a floating grocery store, and that gave us a leg up on most of the other ships in the fleet. There were, however, a number of other AFs (Auxhilary Refridgerated) in WESTPAC, so what made the PICTOR so special?

Frankly, I am not surprised we received this honor. The food was quite good aboard our ship. In addition, and this may seem counter-intuitive, the enlisted mess was better than the officer’s mess. They had better cooks than we did. In the officer’s mess all the cooking was done by the stewards and they were, to a man, all of Filipino descent. They were good sailors, obedient and conscientious, which is why they made good stewards. Had they been allowed to cook in their native tradition our food might have been more exciting, but they faithfully followed the standard Navy cookbook and its recipes. That book was not a work of art from a culinary point of view, but it did make a point of supplying recipes from all the different regions of the United States. The first time I ever ate okra, a traditional Southern vegetable, was in the ward room of the PICTOR.

Where Good Things Happened

Where Good Things Happened

I frequently heard  grumbling among the officers about the quality of our grub, but I never once heard such a complaint from the rest of the crew. In fact, it was just the opposite, I often heard the sailors say good things about their cooks. Navy regulations required every meal served in the enlisted mess to be sampled by an officer, and this was a duty that we actually looked forward to.

1st Class Cook Eddie Moton ( I think )First Class Cook Eddie Moton ( I think )

How did this unique situation come about? Who gets the credit? Well, I was not a party to all the goings on behind the scenes, but the name I heard mentioned the most was a First Class Cook named Eddie Moton. My cruise book says that Moton was from Oakland, but I seem to remember that he was originally from Texas. Moton was something of a culinary artist, plain and simple, and that kind of artistry is a difficult thing to maintain when cooking three meals a day for 200 men. He was especially good at barbecue, and his barbecued ribs were to die for. If you were the officer who had the duty to sample the crew’s mess when Moton was barbecuing ribs you were the envy of wardroom; and if you used this as a bargaining chip there is no telling what you might obtain in trade.

(click on image for larger view)

So, in my book, the PICTOR’s success with the Ney Award is directly attributable to First Class Cook Eddie Moton and his crew.

For the final chapter of my experience with the USS PICTOR click here.

Tags: ,

Saturday, February 13th, 2010 U.S. Navy 5 Comments