FORT HUACHUCA, Arizona (February 4, 2016) -- Starting children's learning early is one way to guide them to new interests or to something they will enjoy as a hobby later in life. At Col. Johnston Elementary School here, one kindergarten class learned to prepare a kid-friendly dessert -- worms and dirt -- from an award-winning Army chef.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Flemister, the 2015 Armed Forces Master Chef of the Year and a member of the Network Enterprise Technology Command, visited the class of Althea Brown for a short time to talk with the young ones and have a little fun.
"I had the pleasure of doing this last year," Flemister said. "I think I had more fun than the kids did. So when (Ms. Brown) asked me to do it again, there was no way I was going to miss it."
Starting his presentation, Flemister handed out paper cooking hats and medals for each of the children. He talked about what it is like being an Army chef, places he had been as a chef, and even gave a small class on the purpose of real worms. When it was time to make the worms and dirt, reluctance turned to happiness when Flemister discussed the ingredients -- chocolate pudding, crumbled chocolate cake, gummi worms, green frosting, chocolate rocks and a few sprinkles.
"Last year, we did crispy rice treats," Flemister said. "We melted the butter on a small burner and everything. This time, we wanted to do something easy and ready to go."
Each of the children lined up with a small plastic cup to dump mud, dirt, worms, grass, rocks and pebbles into the cup. With the assistance of Sgt. Maj. Christopher Brown, Pfc. Justin Prickett, and Principal Jennifer Truitt-Lewis, each of the students created their own mini-mess before digging in.
After the last child created her masterpiece, Flemister walked around the class and answered questions from the children. It was all part of the experience Ms. Brown wanted to impart on the young students.
"We were talking about community helpers, and we wanted to give them some others' experiences," said Ms. Brown. "He (Flemister) is wonderful with the kiddos. The way he listens and answers their questions and takes time with them is great."
Flemister and other Soldier cooks from Fort Huachuca are preparing for the next Culinary Arts Competition coming up in Fort Lee, Virginia, in March.