By Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs

(FORT HOOD, Texas, January 10, 2018)-Soldiers from various units under III Corps gathered at the Culinary Arts Center here Jan. 8 to compete in the Chef of the Quarter competition.

Soldiers from Fort Leonardwood, Missouri; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Fort Hood, participated in the event.

Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan Wilcox, Sr., Culinary Management Non-Commissioned Officer, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, said that the competing Soldiers would have three hours to prepare a three course meal. The meal would consist of an appetizer, main entrée and dessert.

Day one consisted of timed cooking, he said. The second day consisted of a board panel in the Army Service Uniform. The judges were from the III Corps Culinary Arts Team. Soldiers would be separated into two categories; Pvt. through Spc. and then Cpl. through Staff Sgt.

Without the normal hustle and bustle of a dining facility, Soldiers were able to focus in the quiet, but busy, Culinary Arts Center. Some Soldiers played music quietly, talked amongst their peers, or just solely focused on their creations.

Spc. Sydney Woodworth,75th Field Artillery Brigade, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, a native of Melbourne, Florida, works at the Guns and Rockets dining facility. Her sponsor said that she has been practicing but was still nervous as this was her first competition.

Woodworth had to make adjustments throughout the competition but the judges said that the flavor on her appetizer was great. She made steak strips on a cucumber with dill cream.

Another participant, Sgt. Schastian Schad, also with the 75th Field Artillery Brigade, competed in the second category. She said in her time off she practiced different types of cuts and studied one section at a time.

"I like to create art with my hands," she said. "It's fun."

Schad worked busily in her small area of the kitchen, not really speaking to anyone. Her sponsor, Sgt. 1st. Class Shaunta Cain, with the same unit, would give Schad tips and assist with removing dishes during the competition.

Schad prepared pulled pork on top of pita bread with sweet and sour sauce and carrots as an appetizer. She made a pan seared steak with a red wine steak sauce and couscous pilaf with broccoli as the main dish. Finally, she created a white cake with blueberry compote.

Sgt. Luis Mendoza, a competitor with the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, said that he was nervous due to the number of people competing.

He prepared for the mystery basket by writing down several possible recipes before starting the competition. Judges stated that he would only have ten minutes to use his phone as a reference, so, to save time Mendoza pre-planned.

Mendoza furiously bustled in his small section of the kitchen, spicing meat, cutting broccoli, and other various items. He prepared pork belly braised with orange-carrot puree for the main entrée, broccoli soup as an appetizer, and caramelized apples for dessert.