Fort Lee Culinary Competition
The 36th Annual U.S. Army Culinary Arts Competition began March 3rd at Fort Lee. WCVE Public Radio Correspondent John Ogle spent most of Friday (March 4) covering this one of a kind event and sampling some outstanding food.
It is the largest culinary competition, of any kind, in the USA. Some 250 military chefs, stationed around the world, are competing in 500 different judged events. One will be named Armed Forces Chef of the Year – another, Junior Chef of the Year. Of the 15 competing teams, one will be awarded the Installation of the Year.
Fort Lee’s Chief of Advanced Food Service Training, Chief Warrant Officer Russell Campbell, is running the show. He pointed out that this competition is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation, so ribbons won here become part of a chef’s resume, in or out of the service.
The chefs are timed and graded for sanitation, knife skills, cooking skills, and plate presentation. In one event, Field Competition, a team, using a field-kitchen trailer, must serve a banquet of soup, entrée, and dessert, all within a proscribed time. After the event, the teams sits down with the judges, and the two groups trade their conclusions on the service. Judge Geoffery Acott says that the post-meal debrief is the most important thing this team will do all day.
For the first time, this year, the competition was streamed live. Tim Capps, Ft. Lee's Knowledge Manager, says that for this year's competition, a video stream can be found on Ft. Lee's facebook page and on Defense Connect Online as well. The culinary competition was open to the public and ran through Wednesday, March 9th.