Chef and Steward Trades - 112 years of loyal and dedicated service
The New Zealand Army chefs and stewards have been a vital part of soldiers’ lives since the day of their enlistment.
19 August, 2022
Seven days a week, 365 days a year, in both the garrison environment and operationally they have fed all ranks whether it be daily meals at the mess, formal functions or through nourishing hearty meals in the field.
On 30 June 2022, after 112 years of service, the chef and steward trades of the NZ Army were discontinued, making way for the establishment of a new Caterer trade that combines both. The establishment of a single Caterer trade allows for sustainable, operationally focused, and structured delivery of integrated commercial catering services to the NZ Army.
The chef and steward trades date back to the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC) which was established in 1910, later becoming the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC). The prefix ‘Royal’ was approved in recognition of the trade’s service during World War II. The RNZASC was instrumental in training and instruction of cooking, service of meals, ration scales and meal planning.
The Army Catering School was established in Waiouru in 1948 and is still there. In its 74-year history the school has undergone five name and command changes and is today known as the Defence Catering School (NZ) where it continues to train our Army caterers in the art of cooking.
In May 1979, the RNZASC regrouped and the trades of chef and steward became part of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT) where they saw active service overseas, notably in the Asia Pacific Region.
In 1996 the establishment of a fully integrated logistic function meant that the RNZCT, the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) and the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME) were disbanded and the Royal New Zealand Army Logistics Regiment (RNZALR) was formed where the chef and steward trades remained until now.
Operationally, chefs and stewards have been deployed on a variety of missions around the world including the First World War, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Timor Leste, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Bougainville, and Solomon Islands.
In recent years our chefs have been integral in providing support and feeding the masses when called upon for natural disasters domestically, including the Christchurch earthquake in 2011, the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016 and most recently the West Coast floods in 2021.
In 2018, the Army Management Board directed that an operationally focussed and sustainable catering trade be developed that combined both the current chef and steward trades. The chef and steward trades of the NZ Army were discontinued on 30 June 2022 and the Caterer trade established as at 1 July.
The establishment of the new caterer trade creates depth, allows for growth and the enhanced delivery of food safety, nutrition, personnel support services, compliance and governance to the force. The new integrated catering services model ensures that the messes will remain open whilst military staff attend courses, exercises and operations.
Chief of Army Major General John Boswell, said he wanted to congratulate the members of the RNZALR on the formation of the new Caterer trade.
“Having experienced the absolute professionalism of our chefs and stewards I am always impressed by their dedication to their trade."
“We are entering a new era for Army catering and I am confident that the new Caterer trade will continue on the excellent traditions and work that our men and women have been doing for more than a century,” he said.
Regimental Colonel RNZALR, Colonel Esther Harrop said she wanted to congratulate members of RNZALR on the formation of the new Caterer trade.
“The history of service of those who served as chefs and stewards within the NZASC, RNZASC, RNZCT and more recently the RNZALR is extensive – and speaks of over 100 years of dedication, professional commitment and of course tradition of excellence.”
To mark the discontinuation of the Chef and Steward trades after 112 years each Army Camp celebrated the trades and in turn welcomed the new Caterer trade with the planting of a trees and time capsule in each location.
Caterers from CSS Company North in Papakura planted a kowhai tree and acknowledged the four Matariki stars - Waiti, Waita, Tupuanuku and Tupuarangi which are the stars associated with kai (food).
Defence Catering School New Zealand in Waiouru planted a native mountain horopito and buried a time capsule which holds Catering School memorabilia from both trades.
Linton Catering Platoon planted a lemon tree which symbolises the tenacious traits of those who serve in catering, and stands to see the trade continue in longevity.
In Trentham COL Harrop and previous Regimental Colonel COL Steve Piercy planted a tree in recognition of the trades. Past and present Senior Trade Advisors Catering and Supply LTCOL Tony Harding, LTCOL (Rtd) Roz Michie and a small group of personnel, including the longest serving Steward in the Army of 49 years, Major David Ackroyd, gathered to bless the tree, place soil around the base and to toast the trades.
Burnham Catering Platoon planted a South Island kowhai, two feijoa trees, lemon tree and a lime tree. There was also a time capsule dug in – this included a platoon photo, a bottle of Port, a chef’s jacket with comments on it, a steward vest, a wine knife and a photo of the current layout of the Burnham Camp.
From July 2022, Compass Group – ESS assumed responsibility for the provision of Front of House (FoH) and selected Back of House (BoH) and General Hand (GH) services at Linton, Burnham and Papakura Camps.
“Ka pai ki muri ka pai ki mua”
The foundation which has been created in the past will help to move us forward towards a brighter future.