A junior Royal Navy chef has been named Armed Forces Caterer of the Year after impressing judges with his commitment to using local produce while deployed and using themed meals to keep morale high.
Able Seaman Devorne Gibson spent seven months of 2021 at sea with Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond as part of the UK Carrier Strike Group.
His efforts and hard work, both in and out the galley, throughout the global operation were highlighted in his winning citation, which also championed his determination to excel.
Devorne said: “When I saw the nominees from the other services – all of whom were a much higher rank than me – I said to myself there was no way that I could compete with them.
“When I discovered I had won, I felt that it was a massive achievement for me in such a short time within the Royal Navy.”
He explained that his determination and will to work hard was to set an example for his children, saying he wanted them to know they can achieve anything and see him as a hero.
He joined Diamond in May 2020, straight from basic and professional training and his impact made in both the galley and wider ship was described as “simply immense”.
“Throughout last year’s gruelling seven-month Op Fortis deployment, his irrepressibly affable nature and unrelenting professionalism truly shone through,” read the citation.
“Junior he may be, yet he has stood out among a competitive field of caterers on board as the one who consistently delivers the highest-quality food.
“His role in managing the ship’s catering account has been equally impressive… he has also carefully considered the availability of local produce from foreign ports and adapted menus accordingly, demonstrating a seemingly instinctive appreciation for the finer nuances of his trade that normally only come with considerable experience.”
The junior chef’s efforts to keep his shipmates happy and boost morale was also underscored in the citation; many of Diamond’s port stops were restricted by Covid-19 regulations.
The citation added: “Recognising the significant restrictions placed on the ship’s company throughout the deployment, through his own initiative he actively sought out opportunities to lay on numerous themed Caribbean evenings.
“Exceptionally well-executed, these events proved hugely successful and important catalysts to unite the ship’s company, offering a major boost to morale when it was sorely needed.
“Simply put, Gibson is a superstar; even at this early stage in his career he is deservedly established as an outstanding role model to junior sailors of all branches.”
Devorne was once again deployed when the Armed Forces Caterer of the Year awards ceremony were held, so his trophy was collected by Warrant Officer (CS) John Connor, Fleet Warrant Officer Catering Services.
His win comes as Royal Navy chefs held off competition from the Army and RAF to be crowned cookery champions last month at the two-day Exercise Joint Caterer.
A 26-strong Catering Services team delivered a mouth-watering display of culinary art and fine-dining skill at the event, held for the first time as part of the Public Sector Catering Expo at the NEC in Birmingham.
The team returned with 32 medals and 15 best in class awards, picking up the team ethos award in the process.