ARABIAN SEA --
A Cajun aroma filled the kitchen as chefs aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans prepared a dinner here Feb. 21 for the ship's crew.
Culinary and food service specialists, supported by Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors with the ship, spent the evening preparing a Mardi Gras meal to raise morale on ship.
"Every meal is important, but it's nice to have an opportunity to do something special to boost morale within the crew," said culinary specialist Petty Officer 3rd Class Mohcine Moussa, a 23-year-old Austin, Texas, native.
Moussa said that everyone working in the kitchen was excited about the occasion and provided ideas for recipes to represent the Louisiana-style cuisine.
Chefs picked an eclectic menu for the occasion, from gumbo and jambalaya to red beans and rice and crab legs.
They also prepared a king cake, which is the staple dessert for a Mardi Gras festival, according to Moussa.
Food service specialist Cpl. Eder Valencia said he was glad to be given the opportunity to prepare food for the crew.
"It's a good feeling to be able to cook for such a large crew," said the 21-year-old Houston native and member of Battery K. "Even though cooking is something we do on a day-to-day basis, I was motivated to make sure this meal was even better."
Battery K is a part of Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the ground combat element for the 11th MEU which is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force. The group is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility.