Culinary training exercise heats up, opens to public next week
February 27, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 27, 2013) -- More than 200 U.S. Armed Forces chefs are on their way to Fort Lee from military installations around the world, for the 38th annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event.
This American Culinary Federation sanctioned professional development program features individual and team challenges in a variety of categories. It provides a forum for service members to enhance their careers though chef certification.
This annual event is designed to provide training and improve the overall level of food service, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Charles H. Talley Jr., chief, Advanced Food Service Training Division, Joint Culinary Center of Excellence.
"This culinary competitive training event provides participants an opportunity to enhance and develop their skills, which they can then take back to their duty stations. The skills they learn here will help them improve the quality, production and service at their home stations."
The JCCoE trains and develops food service leaders, from all services, throughout their careers from advanced individual training through advanced professional courses. JCCoE is part of the U.S. Army Quartermaster School, Combined Arms Support Command. The QM School trains and educates Soldiers, Civilians and members of other services and nations in quartermaster skills and functions.
Members from every branch of the military are bringing with them an arsenal of cutlery and recipes to aid them in this prestigious culinary skills test. Featuring more than 400 judged events, the training event is sure to sizzle again this year.
The excitement kicks off March 5, as the best-of-the-best military chefs compete for the title of Armed Forces Chef of the Year. This event represents the highest individual culinary award in the military. It tests a chef's ability to assess a mystery basket of ingredients and produce a four-course meal, for four people, within a limited time.
The community is encouraged to come out and support the military. The training event offers a fun-filled destination with a tasteful flair. It is open to the public, free of charge, March 6-13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Post Field House. Each day will feature two new team display tables, live cooking (student teams, nutritional categories) and professional development demonstrations.
Participation in this training event is open to active-duty members of all services, Department of Defense Civilians, and U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard personnel. Teams competing for the title of Culinary Team of the Year represent Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Polk, La.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Wash.; Hawaii and the U.S. Fleet Forces Command Norfolk. Teams from the Marines and Fort Bliss, Texas, will also be participating in this category.
Throughout the event, military culinary experts will exhibit their talents in preparing hot foods, cold buffets, pastries and chocolate works of art to earn individual and team recognition. Categories include a nutritional hot food challenge, culinary knowledge bowl, practical cooking and pastry, team buffet and showpieces. There will also be a restaurant style, Hot Kitchen event and ice carving demonstrations.
Individual competitors, participating in a variety of categories, include representatives from the Pentagon, Joint Base Langely-Eustis, Va.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Sill, Okla.; the Joint Chiefs and the U.S. Army Reserve.
Debuting this year is a new Master's level skills test, which features food service professionals at the pinnacle of their careers. Competitors in this challenging category will have one hour to develop a signature duck dish and present four plates for judging. This event corresponds to the ACF Chef of the Year. Also, returning this year is an expanded international competition, which takes place March 6.
Competitors will mix up a taste of global cuisine from five countries -- the United States, Germany, Columbia, France and Canada. Representing Team USA will be Senior Chief Petty Officer Derrick Davenport, U.S. Navy, and Sgt. Sarah Deckert, U.S. Army. Both events take place March 6.
The Hot Kitchen cooking event will once again be open to the public. Each day, March 7-13, teams will square off and be responsible for preparing and plating 55 high-quality meals. A limited number of tickets will be available for $4.60, and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, starting at 11 a.m. each day. Tickets will not be sold in advance.
To support the development of professional military chefs, JCCoE will be offering cooking demonstrations and classes for the competitors throughout the competition.
This training event also gives Soldiers the opportunity to try out for the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team, or USACAT.
USACAT is the military's national culinary team. Its purpose is to offer military chefs the opportunity to sharpen and broaden their skills, Talley said. This joint service team, which trains and competes at international-level events such as the Culinary World Cup and the Culinary Olympics in Europe, has traditionally been the principal means of mentoring young chefs. USACAT members share their knowledge and experience with other service members, which ultimately benefits military diners both in a garrison environment and on the battlefield.
Overall, this competitive training event offers a unique opportunity to see a different side of military chefs, said Talley.
"All of the events are exciting," he said. "Once you walk into the field house, the event has something for everyone to see and get excited about."
For the latest updates on the competition, visit the Advanced Food Service Training Division's Facebook Fanpage at www.facebook.com/Army.Culinary.