Hawaii’s chefs recognized as the best in Army

| March 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

Spc. Ryan Salazar, a Team Hawaii culinary arts specialist, breaks cauliflower into a saucepan, March 14, during the student chef event at the Joint Culinary Training Exercise JCTE at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Dani Johnson
Combined Arms Support Command
Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Virginia — For the fourth year in a row, Team Hawaii was recognized as the Culinary Team of the Year.

About 332 American Culinary Federation (ACF) medals were awarded to more than 200 military chefs at the 43rd annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) awards ceremony, here, March 16.

“It’s an honor and privilege to speak to you today. I wish I could have spent more time (at JCTE). I looked online and my mouth was watering,” said Lt. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee, Headquarters Department of the Army, deputy chief of staff, G4, Pentagon, at the opening of the awards ceremony. “I applaud your competition. You are trained, highly qualified professionals in our operational forces.

U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Jennifer Shick
On the right, Staff Sgt. Jerald Bonkowski and Sgt. Darmel Carasquilo, both culinary arts specialists from Team Hawaii, receive critiques from the judges during the Joint Culinary Training Event at Fort Lee, Virginia, March 10.

“You all are winners by just participating. You now are better as individuals and will take back your knowledge and make your organizations better,” he said. “It is great to see all the services and our coalition partners. Nothing we do on the battlefield is alone; we do it together.”

JCTE started March 9 with the Armed Forces Chef of the Year event and continued until March 15 with the culmination of the International Two-Chef Culinary Challenge. The exercise, administered by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, is the largest ACF-sanctioned competition in North America.

All the judging is done by ACF-certified judges who volunteered their time over eight days to provide feedback and critique the participants. This year’s exercise showcased the talent of 232 military chefs from all military services around the globe to include four international teams.

Courtesy photo
At right, Team Hawaii poses for a remembrance photo with their awards.

“This week was about getting better, not only self, but our units. The Army and all the organizations represented,” said Brig. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, quartermaster general and commandant, The Quartermaster School. “The 13 ACF judges were here to help you get better, to transfer their knowledge.”

ACF president and lead judge Stafford Decambre was on hand to assist in distributing the medals and awards.
“This is a huge competition that you were a part of, the quality (of the entries) was extraordinary,” he said. “Use this experience to develop your professional networks, to commit to growth, focus on learning.

“Define your cuisine and welcome feedback,” said Decambre, who has been a JCTE judge for 13 years. “Make your opportunities, get involved, cook to learn, have passion and love. You deserve everything you have received.”

This year, more than 2,800 people were on hand to watch 26 teams, with 450 entries, competing from all five service branches and four countries. Seventeen teams vied for Culinary Team of the Year with Team Coast Guard as the runner up to Team Hawaii.

Five countries – the United States, France, Great Britain, Canada and Germany – participated in the international challenge with Team Germany coming out victorious.

Along with testing their skills in one of the many categories, 13 service members also tried for a spot on the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team. The USACAT is the military’s national culinary team and offers members the opportunity to compete in international-level events like the Culinary Olympics in Europe, while sharpening and broadening their skills.

Courtesy photo
Elegant foods, like above, are prepared by all the chefs at the competition.

Competing chefs were judged based on ACF guidelines. They were not competing against each other, but against industry standards. Those who exceeded industry standards were given medals – 56 gold medals, 135 silver medals and 141 bronze medals were presented to military chefs who met the judging criteria.

Competing service members are afforded the opportunity to earn ACF certifications, a recognized industry-standard credential, which helps chefs provide better service to their customers in dining facilities, as well as acceptance in the civilian sector when a service member transitions out of the military.

Top Awardees
• Culinary Team of the Year, Team Hawaii
• Runner up, Team Coast Guard

Judges Special Award
(Cold Food Table)
• Team Hawaii

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Category: News

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