U.S. Marines discuss the layout for plating their dishes during the Marine of the 3rd Quarter competition on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, June 28, 2019. Marines in teams of two represented their units and showcased their knowledge, job proficiency, and military bearing through a rigorous two-day cooking challenge. The competitors were given a secret ingredient, a cherry flavored Pop-Tart, to incorporate into the design of their menus. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Marshall)
U.S. Marines discuss the layout for plating their dishes during the Marine of the 3rd Quarter competition on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, June 28, 2019. Marines in teams of two represented their units and showcased their knowledge, job proficiency, and military bearing through a rigorous two-day cooking challenge. The competitors were given a secret ingredient, a cherry flavored Pop-Tart, to incorporate into the design of their menus. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Marshall)

Marine food specialists turn up the heat for cooking competition

by Lance Cpl. Sarah Daniels
U.S. Marine Corps

Marine Corps food specialists from Camp Kinser to Camp Schwab paired with Marines from their mess halls to showcase their culinary knowledge, job proficiency, and military bearing through a rigorous two-day cooking challenge.
“The event is important because you get to step out of your boundaries,” said Lance Cpl. Aly Martinez, a food service specialist with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “You get to see what you are capable of, be confident in what you know you can do, and to just try something new.”

On the first day of the challenge, the two-Marine teams participated in a knowledge panel, written test and menu preparation for the following day. To complete their perfect menus they were given a secret ingredient they were to include in their meals.

On day two, they cooked for five hours, incorporating a cherry flavored pop-tart, the secret ingredient, into the design of their menus.

In addition to pop-tarts, competitors were also given a list of ingredients derived from everyday cooking items, which were mandatory to include in their menus. The menus were composed of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. All three meals were to be fully cooked, plated and served in only five hours on the second day of the competition.

“Today we cooked some corn, ribs, salad, sweet potato, and pudding,” explained Pfc. Alex Araica, winner of Chef of the Quarter, a food service specialist with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.
Each team of chefs came up with a unique menu to present to the judges. The teams were graded and placed according to their combined scores in the knowledge board, written test, overall military bearing, and tastiness of their completed meals.

The winners of the Chef of the 3rd Quarter competition were Lance Cpl. Carlos Miller Jr. and Pfc. Alex Araica, food service specialists with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. These Marines incorporated the secret ingredient into their sweet potato pudding, adding an extra sweet flavor to an ordinary dish.

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