Sunday, March 1, 2015

TUNNY ORTALI: Shell Beach Restaurateur Takes 'Busman's Holiday' to Bahrain with 'Cooks from the Valley'


McLintocks co-founder Tunny Ortali barbecues with Cmdr. Steven Fuselier in Bahrain.

Talk about taking a “busman’s holiday.” Tunny Ortali, co-founder of the renowned McLintocks restaurant in Shell Beach, Calif., traveled this month with the “Cooks from the Valley,” a group of about 60 volunteer cooks.

Ortali and the other cooks hauled about 16,000 pounds of Harris Ranch steaks to U.S. troops in the Middle East and served a mouth-watering July 4 barbecue feast to homesick soldiers, sailors and marines to show their appreciation for the sacrifices the military is making to keep the U.S. and world safe.

Ortali’s McLintocks and its companion, Steamers of Pismo, are well known to many of the deployed service members and their families. The Central Coast steak and fish food restaurants are favorite destinations for military families stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Lemoore is the home base of many Navy aviation squadrons assigned to carriers and flying missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones.

Both Vice Adm. Mark Fox, the incoming leader of the Navy’s Central Command and 5th Fleet in Bahrain, and Vice Adm. William Gortney, the man Fox replaced during a change of command on July 5, were stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station.

“I was incredibly honored to be part of the Cooks from the Valley Middle East tour,” Tunny wrote after his return. “My heart is filled with pride and patriotism when I tell everyone I know what we accomplished and what the mission entailed.”

Ortali, whose restaurants are renowned for their steak dinners, gave special attention to preparing and barbecuing the tri-tip steak for Gortney and Fox at the barbecue in Bahrain. Other locations cooks visited to serve the July 4 feast included Shaikh Isa Air Base, also in Bahrain; aboard the amphibious assault carrier USS Nassau at sea; and at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, near the Somalia border.

Headed by attorney Tom Anton, the Bakersfield-based volunteer “cooks” have barbecued around 130,000 juicy Harris Ranch steaks since the terrorists’ attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to show their appreciation for U.S. soldiers and sailors on ships, on domestic and overseas bases, and in hospitals. The cooks buy the steaks and pay for their expenses out of their own pockets.

Author Dianne Hardisty, a freelance writer in Bakersfield, Calif., and her husband, John Hardisty, traveled with the "Cooks from the Valley" to Bahrain.

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