By Sgt. Uriah WalkerFebruary 16, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Superb and fantastic are not words often used to describe menu items at an Army dining facility; but they were commonly spoken by several of the Third Infantry Division's sergeants major at a dinner held on Fort Stewart, Feb. 8.
The dinner was one of several dining events held by the Marne Division culinary competition team leading up to the 37th Annual Military Culinary Arts Competition. The event, which is held at Fort Lee, Va., begins Feb. 25. There are both team and individual events with each portion being scored. Points are compiled at the end to determine which installations have the best cooks.
According to Sgt. Maj. David Turcotte, the division food service sergeant major, the 3rd ID team is made up of Soldiers selected by their respective brigades, as a result of their performance during the Thanksgiving Day meal.
"These [Soldiers] are actually a little better than what we thought they were," Sgt. Maj. Turcotte said. "They train quicker, so the menu developed a lot faster. So now [the food] is probably at a level much higher than what we normally would see at Fort Lee coming off this type of equipment."
When it comes to a menu being prepared for a competition, there is an expectation of quality. However, what isn't expected is for the food to be of this quality, especially when it is being prepared in one of the Army's containerized kitchens.
Sergeant Major Lekeith Artis, the logistics and quartering maintenance sergeant major, has played a key role in providing feedback to the team over the course of the last three preparations of this menu.
"Over time the meal gets better and better," Sgt. Maj. Artis said. "They need to stay exactly where it's at [now] because it's delicious."
The 18-Soldier team has been working on this menu since December. As a team, the menu was created and refined to what it is now. Each Soldier has a specific role to play in what can only be described as culinary magic. They may not be working with the best beef available, or exotic ingredients, but you would never know that after the first bite.