CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa (Aug. 9, 2012) -- A team of culinary specialists from the Army took first place in the inaugural island-wide, interservice cook-off held July 28 at the Field House here.

The event, hosted by U.S. Army Japan in Okinawa, pitted teams from each service in a competition designed to test the military's culinary skills across the island. Placing second through fourth, respectively, were the Air Force, Marines and Navy.

Representing the winning Army team were Staff Sgt. Jaeson Price, Sgt. Dawn Walles and Spcs. Metzaly Ayalavargas and Joey Prince, all assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery at nearby Kadena Air Base.

During remarks prior to the start of the competition, 10th Regional Support Group Commander Col. Sheila A. Bryant asserted the significance of the event.

"This is the first island-wide cook-off, but we hope to make this the beginning of strong tradition for years to come on Okinawa," said Bryant. "Let's show our support for these culinary warriors as they strive to be recognized as the best on Okinawa."

Participants from each of the services spoke about the value of the competition and the impact programs like it will have 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 Walles. "It was a pretty intense competition; time flew by quickly, but it showed what you were really made of."

Sgt. 1st Class Sherri Engelhardt, who organized the event, talked about the importance of the competition 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."

The competition allowed the participants to showcase their creative cooking skills, both as individuals and as part of a team, said Joel Kursman, a judge at the event.

"In this type of an event, [the competitors] are able to be creative and capitalize on the talents of all team members regardless of rank," said Kursman. "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 the following items: watermelon and avocado soup; coconut and shrimp salad with honey-glazed vinegar; salmon with a honey mustard gaze; almond chicken rice; butter garlic asparagus; and a three-way dessert: fruit pizza, cheesecake and chocolate toffee.

"It was a remarkable event, supported by the joint community," said Bryant. "The tension was high, and the competition was fierce. I am privileged to be a part of the 'Ichi Dan' ('One Team') spirit."

These thoughts were echoed by Lt. Col. Joseph McCallion, commander of 1-1 ADA.

"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."

Page last updated Thu August 9th, 2012 at 04:13