Not Only Can He Cook, But He Can Sell the Navy

Michael Edwards has been in the Navy less than eight years, joining in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. He is a Culinary Specialist First Class — and that has taken on multiple meanings. Edwards is the 2009 Armed Forces Chef of the Year. He also is an executive chef to the stars — four stars, to be exact. As an enlisted aide to Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, he works his magic for his boss as well as a host of dignitaries.

Edwards’ latest credit? NPR budget cooking sensation.

In a brilliant move by either the Navy, Mullen’s office, or NPR, Edwards appeared in the public radio’s miniseries “How Low Can You Go?” in which chefs are asked to create a meal for a family of four for under 10 bucks.

Host Michele Norris noted not only did Edwards succeed, but he is the first guest to put together a multiple-course feast.

In a charming exchange, the gifted sailor talked about his decision to join the Navy (“I was going to join the Army, but the Navy recruiter told me the food was better in the Navy”). He dished about his time on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, with its large and hungry crew, and how much he learned there as a cook. He described a galley staffed by 300, ‘round-the-clock ops, and something about large steam kettles called coppers — apparently a big deal. Sounded dangerous to us.

Back at land-based NPR, Edwards’ three-course meal for the fictitious four included cream of asparagus soup, gnocchi (potato dumplings typically the domain of Italian grandmothers), and sautéed skate meuniere. Skate is a fish, and a tasty, inexpensive one, according to Edwards, though the listener comments posted online say otherwise. Total cost: $9.75. It was unclear if he feeds these low-cost delicacies to Mullen.

Note to Navy: Get more like Edwards and showcase them. We don’t cook (we’ve never heard of skate), but we were captivated by Edwards.

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