By Michael StrasserMarch 20, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 19, 2018) -- The Fort Drum Culinary Arts Team demonstrated a high degree of skill and professionalism to earn 21 medals at the 43rd Joint Culinary Training Exercise at Fort Lee, Va.
The members of the Professional Chef Team earned gold medals for the highest score in the Military Hot Food Kitchen category, where they created a five-course menu in a mobile kitchen trailer, and served it restaurant-style to 50 diners.
Sgt. 1st Class Lagena Boggs, team captain, claimed two gold medals overall, as well as one silver for her performance in the Armed Forces Chef of the Year category. Boggs also received the Judges Award for Best in Show. This award recognizes the chef who epitomized culinary excellence by displaying outstanding workmanship, passion and leadership throughout the exercise.
Pfc. Mary Lewis, from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, earned a gold medal during the Student Chef of the Year event, and also received a bronze for the Student Skills category.
Sgt. Joshua Hoyt, 10th Mountain Division Artillery, and Spc. Huy Nguyen, 1st Brigade Combat Team, were awarded a silver medal as the highest scoring team in the Nutritional Hot Food Challenge event. During the award ceremony March 16, they were also presented with a trophy and scholarships to Stratton University.
Additionally, the culinary arts team's Cold Food Table display earned them a silver medal.
"Every team member earned a medal, and there wasn't a category where we didn't get a medal," Boggs said. "I'm very proud of our team."
Boggs said that the team was not as experienced or had the amount of food knowledge compared to past teams, but she thought they made up for it with the desire to learn.
"I think our team did very, very well," Boggs said. "For the amount of people on this team that had never done this before, I felt we did even better than last year."
Seventeen teams participated in seven separate categories to compete for the Culinary Team of the Year trophy. The coveted title went to the team from Hawaii for the fourth year in a row. The Fort Drum team placed third, behind the U.S. Coast Guard team, according to the Fort Drum Culinary Program Facebook page.
In all, 332 medals were awarded to more than 200 military chefs. The annual exercise is the largest American Culinary Federation-sanctioned competition in North America, and showcased the skills of military chefs around the world. The event is designed so culinary arts specialists can hone their craft while competing against culinary industry standards.
While it challenges military chefs to excel among the best in their profession, it also provides a learning environment where the sharing of knowledge is encouraged. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the quality of food services in their units, enabling them to better perform their duties at home and while deployed.
Professional Chef Team:
Sgt. 1st Class Lagena Boggs (team captain), HHBN, 10th Mountain Division, 2 gold, 1 silver
Sgt. Joshua Hoyt, 10th Mountain Division Artillery, 1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze
Spc. Raysean Lewis, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1 gold, 1 silver
Spc. Huy Nguyen, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze
Sgt. Maileny Frett, 511th Military Police Company, 1 gold, 2 silver
Student Chef Team:
Spc. Nakeisha Williams, 23rd Military Police Company, 1 bronze
Spc. Johnny Simmons, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1 bronze
Pfc. Mary Lewis, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1 gold, 1 bronze
Pfc. Quinisha Smith, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1 bronze
Pvt. Arryamclaudine Monteza, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 1 bronze