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Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic

USS Cole Welcomes Local Chef, Guests for Fleet Week Luncheon

06 May 2015 The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) held the annual "Celebrity Chef Luncheon," where food is prepared by a local chef for Sailors and members of the local community, in the ship's wardroom as part of Fleet Week Port Everglades, May 6.

Similar luncheons were held simultaneously aboard amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), and USS New Hampshire (SSN 778), as well as at the US Coast Guard Station in Fort Lauderdale and the Coral Ridge Yacht Club for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Aboard Cole, the three-course meal provided for the event was prepared by local chef Joey Esposito.

"We look forward to this every year," said Esposito.

Esposito's staff prepared the wardroom's dining table with an array of fancy silverware, glasses and dishes while the guests mingled with the Cole's commanding officer, executive officer, and supply officer.

"It's nice having somebody else, and the experience in there, of somebody who only does cooking and is a renowned chef," said Lt. Joe Smutz, Cole's supply officer.

As the first course of appetizers was set on the table, Ken Haiko, a board member of Broward Navy Days, took a moment to talk about Fort Lauderdale's special relationship with the Cole.

"The Cole was actually commissioned here," said Haiko. "Broward Navy Days, which is the organization that puts on Fleet Week here at Port Everglades, we officially adopted the Cole as our ship. As such, we've kept in very close touch with the Cole throughout its history."

Haiko said when the ship was attacked in Yemen in 2000 and 17 Sailors perished, the crew came back to Norfolk, but the community of Fort Lauderdale wanted to show their support. A collection was taken up and Haiko delivered the check to the crew for their Morale, Welfare and Recreation fund as a symbol of the community's dedication to the ship.

The main course arrived as the guests swapped stories and interesting facts about the Cole.

"My favorite part was the company; getting to talk to people from the community and getting to really engage," said Capt. Jim Quaresimo, Cole's commanding officer. "The whole meal was just fantastic. Everything from the appetizer all the way up to the dessert was absolutely phenomenal."

Toward the end of the meal, guest chef Esposito made an appearance at the dining table, where he was congratulated by everyone in attendance.

"It was excellent," said Esposito. "People I worked with in the kitchen were awesome. It was a great time."

Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from five ships are participating in the 25th annual Fleet Week Port Everglades, a weeklong celebration and collaboration with the community of South Florida. The series of events and ship tours provide the citizens of South Florida an opportunity to meet Sailors and Marines, as well as witness first-hand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services, to gain a better understanding of how the sea services support the maritime strategy and national defense of the United States.

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