Services go head-to-head in culinary cook-off
U.S. Army, Japan, Okinawa, hosted the first inter-service island-wide cook off at the Camp Foster Field House July 28.
Four members from each service participated in the four-hour program designed to test the culinary skills across the island from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.
The U.S. Army, with Staff Sgt. Jeason Price, Sgt. Dawn Walles, and Spcs. Metzaly Ayala and Joey Prince all from the 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery on Kadena Air Base, Japan, took first place, followed by the Air Force, Marines, then Navy.
"This is the first island-wide 'cook off,' but we hope to make this the beginning of a strong tradition for years to come on Okinawa," said Col. Sheila A. Bryant, 10th Regional Support Group commander, during her opening remarks for the event. "The 10th Regional Support Group, Food Service section spearheaded this event and worked hard with the other services to make this possible."
Though the competition was stiff, each service's participants agreed programs like this will have substantial impact on their careers.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the different armed services to come together and showcase their skills, as well as learn different things from each other," said Sgt. Dawn Walles. "It was a pretty intense competition; time flew by quickly, but it showed what you were really made of."
The event organizer, Sgt. 1st Class Sherri Engelhardt, said the competition had a significant role in building life learning skills.
"I'm really excited that the food service personnel had a chance to experience the culinary world on a different level," said Engelhardt. "This competition is something that opened their eyes to more than just cooking in the dining facility; they are already speaking of pursuing degrees in Culinary Arts.
Engelhardt said she believes the cook offs should be a frequent occurrence.
"I think there should be competitions like this annually for all food service personnel," she said. ""It's not something they see on television anymore but something that they can actually be participants in. I'm truly proud of the 1-1 ADA food service team that they accomplished a title such as the first Okinawa inter-service cook off winners."
"This first inter-service cook off was a great opportunity for the services to showcase their individual and team cooking skills. When working in their respective dining facilities they have to follow Armed Forces standardized recipes, which are good," described culinary judge, Joel Kursman, "However, in this type of an event, they are able to be creative and capitalize on the talents of all team members, regardless of rank. The service members at this level push themselves to develop and maintain the highest standards of professional excellence."
The winning appetizer, salad, entree and dessert included a watermelon avocado soup, coconut shrimp salad with honey-glazed vinegar, salmon with a honey mustard gaze, almond chicken rice, butter garlic asparagus and three way desert, fruit pizza, cheese cake and chocolate toffee.
"It was a remarkable event supported by the joint community," said Bryant. "It was an honor to have Lt. Gen. Ken J. Glueck and his wife, Elizabeth, present to demonstrate the importance of what our culinary artists bring to their respective services. The tension was high and the competition was fierce. I'd like to congratulate all the teams, but especially the first place winners - Soldiers from United States Army, Japan. What a way for Command Sgt. Maj. Williamson and I to conclude our first week in command. (I'm) proud to be a part of the Okinawa community, but I am privileged to be a part of the 'Ichi dan' spirit. It was awesome today."
Her thoughts were echoed by Lt. Col. Joseph McCallion, 1-1 ADA commander.
"This was a fantastic event where our food service specialists received a chance to showcase their talents and culinary skills in a very tough joint competition," he added. "These Soldiers are true professionals who put in a lot of hours of hard work to compete at this high level, and it paid off with them representing the Army well and taking home the trophy."