by Brian Lamar, U.S. Navy Public Affairs

Culinary Specialist 1st Class Sarah Server grew up in the sleepy town of Excelsior Springs, Missouri with unsure ambitions in life.

As she made her decision to join the Navy, she realized that her Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score was too low for anything except for one Navy career, culinary specialist.

Server walked through the only open door the military had for her to start her career.  Some would say that she has made lemonade out of lemons as she is now preparing to lead a team in a national culinary competition.

Server joined the Navy for patriotic reasons and a chance to leave Missouri to start a career and see the world, not to mention a chance to follow in her brother’s footsteps.

She never expected her decision to join out of high school to lead her down a path that took a detour through the Whitehouse kitchens and ultimately to the Commander, Navy Installation Command annual culinary competition in the Great Lakes.

“I chose CS1 Server to be the team captain of the Region SouthEast team because of the skills she has honed through her career, specifically in the Whitehouse. I know that she has a unique set of skills that will definitely benefit our region team,” said Mike Carter, the Navy Region SouthEast Galley program manager.

“I also served in the Whitehouse previously and we know some of the same people who spoke highly of her as well,” he explained.

Before the Navy, Server’s culinary experience was limited to serving tacos at her local Elks Lodge and a couple of years as a carhop at Sonic.

Server’s attention to detail and dedication to great service in the culinary industry is highlighted by the fact that she can remember every detail of an event nearly a decade ago when she failed to provide excellent service.

“I was skating to Stall number four with a tray of food, which was in a bit of a downhill area,” she said.

Server began to pick up speed and had trouble stopping and crashed on her skates.

She picked herself up and apologized and returned with another tray to only crash again.

The family left the stall and went to an easier one with better access. Server, bruised and battered physically and emotionally, arrived with the third tray of food and a barrel of apologies.

Although Server came from humble roots, her resume in the industry has shown proof of our culinary chops in the last eight years.

“I have served on the USS McCambpell and the USS Roosevelt. My previous assignment before I arrived here at NCBC Gulfport was in the Whitehouse. Although I have never participated in a culinary competition before, while serving on Presidential Duty, every day is like a culinary competition. I am extremely excited and honored to have been selected for this,” Server said.

Since Server realizes her lack of experience with competitions could hurt her, she reached back to mentors that are currently still in the Whitehouse.

“The biggest advice I received from my master chief was to execute smartly and clean. If you are unorganized, then it will look like you don’t know what you are doing or lack experience. My master chief also told me to learn what the seasonal items are in the area. It will be likely that seasonal items will be incorporated into the menu,” she explained. “He also added that the most important part was to take it all in and enjoy the opportunity. Take it seriously but have fun with it,” she said.

According to Server, she has never met her team.

To prepare, she plans to also have group chats before meeting her team in the Chicago area.

She plans to learn the strengths and weaknesses of her teammates CS2 Brown and CS2 Simpkins.

“I plan to organize the team to play on all of our strengths, but for now I am focusing on just getting to know each other better and working on administrative things like uniform readiness and filing travel claims,” she said.

Server leaves Gulfport for her competition debut on July 11.

The competition, incorporated training, and the following ceremony will take approximately a week.