Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tavis McGregor (left) and Army Staff Sgt. Adam Berry, advance culinary instructors, prepare a recipe during filming at the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence on Fort Lee, Virginia. (DeCA photo: Stephen Settles)
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tavis McGregor (left) and Army Staff Sgt. Adam Berry, advance culinary instructors, prepare a recipe during filming at the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence on Fort Lee, Virginia. (DeCA photo: Stephen Settles)

Commissaries partner with military culinary trainers to promote home cooking, healthier meals

by Kevin L. Robinson
Defense Commissary Agency

FORT LEE, Va. – Commissaries are partnering with the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence (JCCoE) to produce videos encouraging service members and their families to cook more meals at home, and provide training products for military chefs.

“These videos provide mutual gains for commissaries and the culinary center,” said Hector Granado, director of marketing for the Defense Commissary Agency. “With this partnership we’re highlighting the excellence of our military chefs while also displaying healthy recipes our patrons can easily prepare at home with the products they buy at their commissary.”

JCCoE, headquartered at Fort Lee, advises and trains DOD culinary personnel, and serves as the focal point for all Army food program issues. DeCA’s audio-visual team produced seven videos, featuring advance culinary instructors – Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tavis McGregor and Army Staff Sgt. Adam Berry – in the center’s training kitchens as they prepared the following recipes:

Since July 30, these videos have been available on DeCA’s YouTube and Facebook pages. The recipes are also in PDF format and can be downloaded and added to a shopping list.

DeCA stamped the recipes as “dietitian-approved,” meaning they align with the commissary’s Nutrition Guide Program (NGP), a point of sale shelf tagging system that helps customers easily identify commissary brands and grocery products with nutrition attributes of low sodium, low fat, whole grain, no added sugar and a great source of fiber.

“From the commissary’s perspective this partnership helps us emphasize to our patrons the importance of increasing the nutrition quality of their diet, saving money and cooking easy-to-prepare meals at home or in the barracks,” said DeCA’s Health and Wellness Program Manager Deborah Harris, MPH, RD, CDE (Masters of Public Health, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator). “These videos are part of our overall effort to offer healthy and easy-to-prepare meal options for our patrons and remind them that they can save more by shopping at their commissary.”

For the JCCoE staff, the partnership netted training videos they could use to support educational training throughout all military services, said Raymond M. Beu, director of training at JCCoE.

“Working with DeCA, we merge their focus on health and wellness with our professional culinary methods and techniques,” Beu said. “These training videos have a wide reach beyond our classroom and will help us promote JCCoE to prospective recruits as well as to our corps of military chefs.”

The training videos – Salmon Fabrication, Chicken Fabrication, French Macarons and Dinner for Two – were filmed in a JCCoE kitchen. The look of the videos is “authentic, unique and easily recognizable” for military service members while also being entertaining for folks outside the culinary community, Beu said.

With DeCA and JCCoE being neighbors on Fort Lee, they’re already laying tracks for a second series of cooking and training videos in the fall, Granado said. The payback for the military goes far to support troop readiness and resiliency by developing videos that showcase chefs cooking quick, healthy and economical meals.

“As we deliver the commissary benefit, we want to offer our patrons the information they need through dietitian-approved products and resources to help them improve the nutrition quality of their shopping basket,” he said. “The cooking videos are designed to support our military chefs, be informative and stimulate interest to prepare more meals at home.”

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