FORT SILL, Okla.-- FORT SILL, Okla. (Jan. 31, 2013) -- The Fort Sill Culinary Arts Team conducted the first week of training Jan. 22-25, 2013 at the Staff Sgt. Juan Garcia Dinning Facility. They are preparing for the 38th Annual U.S. Army Culinary Arts Competition at Fort Lee, Va., in March.

The competition dates back to 1973, and is now the largest of its kind in North America, according to Warrant Officer Arnetra Hughes, 75th Fires Brigade food service technician and Fort Sill Culinary Arts Program manager.

Team Sill consists of food service specialists from the 75th Fires Brigade, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade and 214th Fires Brigade, said Hughes. The food service specialists have various culinary arts backgrounds.

Team captain Spc. Adam Hermann, 31st ADA Brigade, has 13 years of experience in the culinary field as a civilian and four years experience in the military.

"I started as a dishwasher then I worked my way up," said Hermann. "In 2007, I became an executive chef for a company called K.C. Hopps, which is in Kansas City, Mo."

Team Sill is preparing for the prestigious competitive event with a monthlong training program.

"We will work on basic cuts [of different food items] and how to make different sauces during the first week of training," said team manager Sgt. David Bernier, 75th FiB. "We will do some of the things over and over again to where it's just a reaction when we get to the competition."

For some of the Garcia DFAC cooks, the competition will mark the first time they will participate in a high-level culinary arts event.

"I'm nervous and excited," said Pfc. Myra Montoya, 75th FiB. "I've wanted to do something like this for a long time."

The West Palm Beach, Fla., native said she wants to expand her level of knowledge as a food service specialist and looks at the training for the competition as one way of accomplishing her goal.

Many of the Soldiers also view the competition as a way to break away from their day-to-day duties and 'rub elbows' with food service specialist who perform various roles throughout the military.

"A lot of times Soldiers think this [cooking in a DFAC] is the only thing there is to do," said Sgt. Jesse Mitchell, 214 FiB, "You get to meet new people [at the competition] and network. You get to work with people who cook for generals."