Twenty Sailors from Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) joined Former British Royal Navy Culinary Specialist and Food Network celebrity chef Robert Irvine and his wife, professional wrestler Gail Kim, at a special luncheon honoring service members hosted by the Paragon Restaurant at Foxwoods Resort, Dec. 10.
During the event, Irvine announced the launch of his newly formed Robert Irvine Foundation, a not-for-profit organization supporting individuals and organizations committed to enriching the lives of military personnel and their families. “If it wasn’t for members of thousands of men and women who stand the watch every day, we couldn’t do this,” said Irvine, as he welcomed the Sailors from SUBASE who were accompanied by base Commanding Officer Capt. Carl Lahti, Executive Officer Cmdr. Kurt Stronach, and Command Master Chief Jay Gladu. “I really appreciate everything you do for our country. I’ve been [at SUBASE] many times – great leadership, great example of a great Navy and a very thankful nation. Thank you all for wearing the cloth of your nation.” Executed by Paragon’s exemplary culinary team, the luncheon buffet which included filet mignon prepared three ways, mini lobster rolls, turkey club sandwiches on croissant donuts, and the largest pan of paella most had ever seen, was applauded by Irvine and Sailors alike.
“I felt pretty privileged and honored to be invited to such an event; it’s probably the best food I’ll ever have in my life,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Arthur Perez, of SUBASE’s Base Consolidated Telecommunications (BCT) division. A long-time supporter of the military, service members, and healthy eating, Irvine also spoke to SUBASE leadership about upcoming opening of “Fresh,” a healthy lunch option at the Pentagon sometime in February 2015. The concept is focused on providing military members and Pentagon guests healthy, freshly prepared meal options through one of three offerings; “Fresh” Express, a grab and go option for guests in a hurry; ‘Fresh” Kitchen, the full-service dining room; and, “Fresh” Catering, an option for those looking for a healthy alternative for their next meeting or group event.
Irvine is no stranger to SUBASE, visiting the base often when he is in Connecticut. Most recently in January 2014, Irvine toured Cross Hall Galley’s completed culinary training center which replicated a fully functional galley found on Virginia-class submarines. “Because he was once a military chef like us, he inspires us,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Maria Barajasrizo, assigned to the base’s Cross Hall Galley, who felt motivated after attending the luncheon and meeting Chef. “I’m still learning how to cook and the food here was a great example of what I hope to make one day.”
Irvine will be back in Connecticut in April 2015 as he headlines “Savor, a Celebration of Wine, Food and Spirits,” at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, April 10 and 11. Portions of the event’s proceeds will be donated to the Robert Irvine Foundation.
The bottom line for those SUBASE Sailors attending was that the luncheon event and interacting with Irvine was just a great treat. “Before this, I didn’t realize Chef Irvine was that big of a military supporter and I was really surprised to hear how much he cares about the military,” said Perez. “It was definitely a cool experience.”