Army Reserve culinary decorations are the center of attraction
November 29, 2010
- Reserve Soldiers compete with U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team at the Culinary World Cup in Luxemburg
- Intricate figurines the cream of crop
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany Aca,!aEURc This year, three Army Reserve Soldiers are members of the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team from Fort Lee, Va., that competed in the Culinary World Cup in Luxemburg, Nov. 20-25.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Parker of the 841st Engineer Battalion, Miami, Fla.; Spc. Jeffrey Vaughan assigned to the 55th Sustainment Brigade from Ft. Belvoir, Va.; and Sgt. Trent Skinner of the 645th Transportation Company (Inland Cargo) from Las Vegas, Nev., are the first Army Reserve Soldiers to be appointed to the team, which has been a joint team, open to service members from all branches, since 2008.
While Parker and Vaughan are team apprentices, Skinner produced the teamAca,!a,,cs centerpiece and seven figurines to go with each one of the seven, three-course meals presented in the Culinary World CupAca,!a,,cs cold food presentation. As their sculptor, he competed for medals along with the six other members of the competition team.
Skinner, 40, is a freelance sculptor who does ornamental sculpturing and ice carving in his hometown of Las Vegas. Serving on active duty from 1987 to 1998, and a former USACAT alternate in the early Aca,!Eoe90s, he joined the Army Reserve in August 2009 and is now back on the team.
Aca,!A"I love cooking because it allows you to be creative every day,Aca,!A? said Skinner.
As a member of the Army Reserve, he and the other members of his branchAca,!a,,cs culinary arts team train together every quarter. When training at the Metropolitan Community College at Omaha, Neb., some Soldiers even get the chance to take classes that allow them to earn points for their next promotion.
Skinner is thankful for the opportunity to be on the team again and stated he is glad that he and two of his Army Reserve teammates got to go together.
Aca,!A"Being on the team is not just about competing, itAca,!a,,cs learning from the others and taking stuff back to the other (Army Reserve Culinary Arts) team members,Aca,!A? he said while he worked on one of the sculptures for the cold food display at Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany.
The team trains there every two years for a month before going to the international competitions. The sculptures are made of marzipan that is put on an armature made of aluminum and copper wire. The marzipan is colored with food coloring or spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon. From preparing the armature to applying the marzipan, it takes Skinner up to four days to complete the figurineAca,!a,,cs unique design.
Skinner says cooking at an international competition cannot be compared to cooking at a dining facility because it is the type of cooking done for holidays or other special occasions. But, he adds, doing it enhances the chefsAca,!a,,c skills and helps them to do better at the DFACs.
All preparation and cooking is done using standard equipment, no special kitchens or Emeril style set-ups; itAca,!a,,cs the same equipment used when Soldiers are deployed in the field.
He expressed his gratitude to the former Army Reserve food service advisor, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Daniel Ormsby, for paving the way for Army Reserve Soldiers to be on the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team. The process involves considerably more planning and preparation than it does for an active duty Soldier, as Reserve Soldiers must obtain orders but also coordinate time off with their civilian employer. Parker and Vaughan, for example, had to save up vacation time to be on the team while Skinner, as a freelance sculptor, is able to manage his time more independently.
Aca,!A"As a team we enjoy each otherAca,!a,,cs company after work at dinner we try to let our minds escape the kitchen,Aca,!A? said Parker, a native of Haines City, Fla. Aca,!A"This is hard to do because what do you do at dinner Aca,!aEURc you eat Aca,!A| and it comes down to the food about flavors, textures and, of course, how you would have cooked it.Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"We were working on the cold food table. It consists of seven, themed three-course meals that are becoming more beautiful every day,Aca,!A? said Parker. Aca,!A"Aca,!A?By the time we get to Luxemburg they are going to be on point.Aca,!A?