Navy sailors aboard PCU South Dakota getting a taste of Sioux Falls

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Two sailors aboard the PCU South Dakota, currently stationed in Groton, Conn. are getting a taste of Sioux Falls this week.

Joseph Kelley looks like he belongs on the line at Parker's Bistro.

"For one thing this kitchen is way bigger than I'm used to," Kelley said.

But he usually cooks for a few more people ...

"I don't have a stovetop, I have one grill, two ovens, one fryer, two kettles and a steamline," Kelley said. "And that's how I feed my crew."

Lead Petty Officer (LPO) Kelley is a culinary specialist aboard the PCU South Dakota, set to be commissioned the USS South Dakota this fall. He's been cooking on a submarine for 18 years and right now he's serving for than 130 naval officers per meal.

"You've gotta be able to row with the boat ... 'having sea-legs' as they say," Kelley said.

He might be doing more dough 'rolling' than rowing this week. He and another culinary specialist from the submarine will be spending time at Parker's, Sanaa's, M.B. Haskett and Josiah's.

"That's the main thing, is learning this stuff and giving it to the crew," Kelley said. "It's all about the crew when I'm there -- making sure everyone is happy and fed."

Kelley's currently stationed in Groton, Conn. with his wife Bridget and son Jackson, but he's originally from San Diego, Calif., so he's here to learn about some good South Dakota home cooking!

"My senior chief is from South Dakota, so he wanted to instill like, bison burgers and bison steaks," Kelley said. "I wanted to see for myself the different styles of cooking, the different products that are used.

"One thing that I really like is the local stuff that's used and I see how I can bring this stuff back to Groton and say, 'Hey guys look what I learned. Let's see how we can represent South Dakota and eat like they do."

It's a unique opportunity for the restaurants too.

"It just happened that today we were working on our new summer menu," said Stacy Newcomb-Weiland, owner of Parker's Bistro. "And Joe was involved and he added a few things to it that were fun, from his perspective, which was really fun and helpful."

Kelley said he's a baker at heart. He had a chance to spend time with Parker's pastry chef on Tuesday afternoon and was looking forward to learning how to bake some local-flavored treats during the rest of his stay.

Kelley said the Navy has offered these "culinary internships" for several years, he did one at a Sheraton hotel when he was stationed in Washington state several years ago, but he'd never been to South Dakota before Monday.

He and the other sailor interning will be in Sioux Falls through May 20.