Masters event showcases skills of high-speed chefs
March 14, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (March 14, 2013) -- Staff Sgt. Billy Daugette has nothing to prove. The 28-year-old has accomplished much in his short career, and some of those milestones wander into the territory of he cooking world's very best. He's an American Culinary Federation-certified chef; winner of the 2011 Armed Forces Chef of the Year title; and enlisted aide for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
So why did he feel compelled to compete in the Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event?
Without hesitation or consideration, he replies: "The goal is to try and push yourself, and if I can pull it off, it'll be time for me to move on and start giving back to the younger troops."
Translation: accomplishments lend an unparalleled amount of credibility to his resume.
Now, Daugette has another achievement to add to his list of accomplishments. He earned a gold medal in the inaugural master's category, created for those who are past winners of the AFCOY and those who still get a kick out whipping up four-course meals. Daugette expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to compete.
"It is pretty unique because you're going up against three other chefs who've all won," he said, "so the competition is real tight, and the expectations are really high."
Daugette's competitors were Chief Petty Officer Michael Edwards of Team Hawaii, Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Spiess of Fort Stewart, Ga., and Sgt. 1st Class Steven Behr, an independent competitor. The four contestants were given one hours to prepare a meal using duck and allowed to be as creative as they wished.
Spiess, the 2010 AFCOY titlist and another gold medal winner, said he prepared duck breast and "stuffed it with cream and herbs." He added a sweet potato gratin and a honey, lemon and butter wine sauce. After the competition, he was confident that he had performed well against Daugette.
"He had more components on his plate, but I think I was more organized," he said. "I tried to keep it simple and flavorful."
Spiess clearly had his mind on conquering the other competitors.
"It's in my blood," he said. "My family's competitive -- sports, cooking -- we're just competitive, and I hate losing."
The Fort Stewart, Ga., Soldier also wanted to stay on top of his culinary game and share his competencies with his fellow teammates who are competing in a number of categories including Culinary Team of the Year.
"I'm just trying to give back what was given to me," he said.
So was Daugette. Competing in the master's competition with a sense of charity, he knows he wouldn't be there if it weren't for others.
"I've been fortunate to work with great chefs in the military," he said. "They've pushed me, and I've been exposed to a lot. I've competed quite a few times here, and the competition has helped me to get better, better and better."
To round out the competition, Edwards was awarded a silver medal and Behr, a last minute entry, earned bronze.
The winner of the master's category is scheduled to be announced Friday during the awards ceremony.