FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq (Army News Service, Aug. 20, 2007) - Food service personnel of the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team competed in their own version of the Iron Chef competition here Aug. 16.

"I wanted to give them the opportunity show their extreme talent," said Chief Warrant Officer Ellen Magras, officer in charge of food service for the 3rd HBCT.

In the original Iron Chef competition that airs on cable's Food Network, four professional Iron Chefs specialize in one type of cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, French and Italian. Before the battle, the contender chooses one of the experts to face in a one-hour cook-off. Neither chef knows the key ingredient they must incorporate into their three-course meal until the unveiling, moments before the race begins.

Sgt. 1st Class Ed Stewart, NCOIC, said the Hammer Iron Chef competition was intended to closely resemble the original, yet still allow for full participation from everyone involved.

"Chief Magras spent a lot of time on every detail of this competition," he said. "She fine tuned everything."

Three teams of three chefs each battled it out in the Hammer Dining Facility's version of "Kitchen Stadium." The teams were from the Kellogg, Brown, and Root contracting company, the Timimi contracting company, and the 3rd HBCT. Each team prepared three dishes, including a salad, a sandwich and a desert. They could use any ingredient found in the dining facility.

When the hour ended, the teams displayed their masterpieces to the judges. According to Capt. Jeff Crawford, commander, Company D, 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, the judges took every aspect of the meals into consideration before making their final decision on the winners.

"We judges were actually looking at the taste and texture," he said. "But me personally, I was also looking at the food."

The 3rd HBCT chefs were declared winners. Their dishes included a shrimp and lobster salad with vegetable crackers, a shrimp po' boy sandwich with corn relish and for a pretzel delight with whipped topping and strawberries for dessert.

The Kellogg, Brown, and Root team placed second with a Mexican salad, Philadelphia cheesesteak sub and crepe suzette. The Timimi chefs prepared a mixed salad with beef and seafood, Hollywood sandwiches and a dessert called "Orange Supreme."

Sgt. 1st Class Stewart believed the Timimi cooks, mostly from the Middle East, had trouble with American cuisine.

"We gave the judges something they could recognize," Sgt. 1st Class Stewart said. "Almost every American loves seafood. I don't think the Timimi team catered to their audience."

Despite the outcome, Sgt. 1st Class Stewart believed everyone enjoyed themselves.

"It was a great competition that brought camaraderie between the civilians and the Soldiers," he said.