Vincentian chef treats sailors to Caribbean feast
November 1, 2013

Vincentian chef treats sailors to Caribbean feast

A Vincentian has served a Caribbean feast for her fellow shipmates while on deployment in the Gulf.{{more}}

Leading chef Marrie Bellingy, from the island of St Vincent, is currently serving in the Royal Navy’s last Invincible class aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious, deployed on Cougar 13.

Having deployed in August, the 35-year-old felt it was time to organise a Caribbean barbecue for her shipmates, so working with 10 of her Caribbean colleagues, she hosted a fantastic night on the ship’s flightdeck.

Marie, who now lives in the UK city of Portsmouth with her partner and children, said:

“I love to travel and I love to cook. In this job I get paid to do what I love. On board Illustrious we are allowed to be creative with the cooking.

“Caribbean food is all about marinating the meat well with plenty of spices: Cajun spices, basil and thyme. We also made some traditional dishes such as corn pie and macaroni pie, which many of the other sailors may not have tried before.”

HMS Illustrious is part of the Response Force Task Group (RFTG). It is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines. It is kept at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required. Illustrious is currently deployed on Cougar 13, the biggest exercise for the RFTG in 2013.

Preparing food, in a hot kitchen or galley, for over a 1,000 people every day can be quite a challenge, especially in the relentless heat of the Gulf, but Marrie takes it in her stride.

She said: “I love cooking. I especially love the large bakery we have on board, because you really get to be creative and to make your own cakes and puddings from scratch and the ship’s company really enjoy what I make.”

Having deployed on Cougar 13 in August, it is only natural that thoughts turn to home every once in a while.

“My partner, Joe, is in the Army, so he understands what it’s like to be away from home. I do really miss my children, but I am really lucky because whenever I go away, my Mum comes over from St Vincent to look after her grandchildren.

So, it’s almost like a holiday for her and the kids get to spend time with their grandmother,” Marrie added.

The Cougar 13 deployment has operated in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, the Gulf, and Horn of Africa. It has involved exercising with partner nations, and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine OBE ADC Royal Navy.