LUXEMBOURG -- The Joint Hawaii Culinary Arts Team closed out their 2018 culinary competition year battling over 750 of the world's best chefs at the Villeroy and Boch World Cup culinary competition in Luxembourg, Nov. 24-28.
The Villeroy and Boch World Cup is one of the largest cooking competitions in the world with professional and industry chefs from around 75 different countries organized into 30 National Senior, 15 National Junior and 15 Catering teams as well as 45 regional teams.
Joint Team Hawaii received a bronze medal for their cold food display layout and a ranking of 11 out of the 45 regional teams.
For four years in a row, Joint Team Hawaii has held the coveted title of top military chefs, winning the Joint Culinary Training Exercise and Competition in Fort Lee, Va. They also won gold in the cold food layout category at the 2018 Cook. Craft. Create. American Culinary Federation National Convention and Show in New Orleans, La., July 15-19.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shemika Harris, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command's Theater Food Advisor led the team for the last two years and for their past seven competitions. The Villeroy and Boch World Cup was her last competition leading Joint Team Hawaii.
"The World Cup was similar to our competition at the American Culinary Federation's National Convention, which took place back in July," said Harris. "We revamped about 85% of our menus and the team was only allotted 2 solid weeks to train prior to leaving for Luxembourg. The other competitors were industry workers who train for these competitions on a daily basis."
Harris also added that although the rules often change for different competitions, the foundational principles to training remain the same and are grounded in building a cohesive team.
According to Spc. Joe Malubay, assigned to 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, what separates an excellent cook from an average cook is simply -- passion and the love for cooking.
"The best thing about my job is gaining all the knowledge about culinary," said Malubay. "I am very passionate about being a culinarian. I love to cook and I enjoy learning as well."
Many of the culinarians on the team attribute this passion as the driving force for their dedication to keeping up with an intense training program as well as to the team's overall success.
"Like any other competition that we've been in, we always train for no less than the best," said Spc. Caseres Owen," assigned to 25TH CAB, 25TH ID. "We always put in our 300%: 100% passion, 100% dedication, and 100% execution. Most of the days we train up to 12 hours with take-home trainings included, aside from that, we have to make sure that we are up to the Army standards."
"What I love about my job is that I get to do my passion. I am able to represent my unit, the U.S. Army, and my country; however, most of all, I am able to represent my fellow cooks," said Owen. "We are just as competitive and we can be better than the civilian chefs who do this every day."
In 2019, Team Hawaii will compete once again in the Joint Culinary Training Exercise and Competition, vying for their fifth win in this competition to hold onto their title as the top military chefs.