Fort Campbell culinary specialists competed in the 44th annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise, at Maclaughlin Fitness Center on Fort Lee, Virginia, March 14, which culminated with the Student Chef of the Year event.,.
The annual JCTE is the largest American Culinary Federation-sanctioned competition in North America, and showcases the talent of military chefs from around the world in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and foreign military teams.
Pfc. Trevon Golden is the Fort Campbell, Kentucky Culinary Arts Team's student captain. He serves with 526 Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). For the Student Chef of the Year category, Golden had to prepare a meal for judges to critique. He said he practiced for months before the exercise, studying in the culinary lab on Fort Campbell.
"My menu was a pan seared arctic char, with apple fennel coleslaw and a pea sauce," he said. With so many things to prepare he had to move fast and be light on his feet. That's something Golden said he learned from the team's senior captain, Staff. Sgt. Carlos Mercado, an advanced culinary noncommissioned officer from the 426th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div.
Mercado leads the Culinary Arts Team by example, and said he taught Golden about being professional and living by the Army values to thrive on the team.
"If there's any word that could describe Pfc. Golden's potential as the student team captain, it's remarkable," Mercado said. "His professionalism, drive and dedication to be successful at whatever task is assigned to him and his team proves to me without a doubt that he will be a great leader and asset to any unit."
Golden's can-do attitude comes from family. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri with his grandmother, who taught him how to cook and sparked his interest in culinary arts. Thoughts of family kept him calm during the exercise. He never appeared to be anxious or rushed as he cooked.
My family means everything to me," Golden said. "I remember helping my grandma in the kitchen. I was always with her. I love cooking with her."
Although they were not in attendance to root him on at the exercise, he knows he has his family's support.
"I want to tell my family I love them," Golden said. "I hope I made you all proud."