FORT DRUM, N.Y. - With knives at the ready, four military and two civilian cooking teams proved they had what it takes to earn top honors in the North Country Iron Chef Competition on April 14 at 10th Sustainment Brigade Dining Facility.

Each military team consisted of one specialist or below and one sergeant or above. Civilian teams represented Texas Roadhouse, Watertown, and the Commons.

Contestants' entries were judged on presentation, creativity, flavor, taste and texture.
It was a close race, but in the end, it was the 10th Sustainment Muleskinner team of Staff Sgt. Lawrence Linendoll, a cook with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and Spc. Darren Arends, a cook with 511th Military Police Company, who won the competition.

The competition started with teams receiving an initial briefing on the rules and guidelines they had to follow. They were given a chance to walk through the pantry and look at all the ingredients available. Then they had time to study from a large assortment of cookbooks to prepare a menu for the judges.

After teams submitted their menus, they were given 15 minutes to gather all the ingredients they would need to prepare their dishes. Teams then had two and one-half hours to prepare their meals for the judges to sample and decide the winner.

"The last 15 minutes of the competition is the most exciting," said Sgt. Maj. Richard Bennett, division food service sergeant major. "You start to see some of the cooks working frantically to finish their dishes and make the deadline.

"The competition was designed so cooks throughout the installation get the opportunity to work with some of the local food establishments and express their creativity and to increase the awareness of the food service program on this post," Bennett said.

Soldiers enjoyed the opportunity to show off their skills.

"This event allows cooks to get out of the dining facility and show the judges (their) talents and experience as a cook," said Spc. Roger Behrman, a cook with 710th Brigade Support Battalion.
This event gives cooks something to strive toward, and it's a rewarding experience that Soldiers can take back to their dining facility, Behrman said.

"I enjoy the rush of the competition, and it gets adrenaline going working against the clock," said Spec. Steven Philipps, a cook with E Troop, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment.

Bennett said he enjoys these competitions and he feels there should be more of these events throughout the year.

"This competition helps build esprit de corps amongst the cooks throughout the division," Bennett said.

All participating teams received a certificate of appreciation. Winners received a medal, and they will be placed on an order of merit list to attend the Culinary Arts School at Fort Lee, Va.

"I'm extremely proud of the cooks in this division," Bennett said. "They have shown us daily they are Soldiers first."