Military Chefs Graduate Friday
On Friday 24 students, representing all five branches of the service, will complete their training at the Advanced Food Service Training Division of the Joint Culinary Center for Excellence at Ft. Lee.
This is class six this year, and class seven will arrive shortly.
Cross: We start with the basics of cooking; then what we do is we offer additional professional military education courses. One of those courses is this advanced culinary course.
Brigadier General Jesse Cross commands the Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee.
Cross: They gain additional skills, culinary art-type skills; over this three weeks, three day course, they find out all the things that they need to know about wine pairing, about menu selection, that will help them help teach and instruct at their installation, post camp or station, so we hope what they learn here, they can take it back and teach their soldier, sailor or Marines.
Last week, in two groups, the students were required to plan, prepare and serve a nine-course meal. The General, other officers and friends were invited, and so were journalists, so I volunteered for the assignment.
Campbell: This course is designed to train and prepare and assist potential enlisted aides and will work for journal officers or flag officers, admirals, and then also those other cooks that have, you know, demonstrated great skill and capability in their job and want to come here and continue to improve their skills. We give priority to the training slots to those who are either an enlisted aide or will be an enlisted aide and then we fill all the other slots with everyone else that would like to attend.
Chief Warrant Officer Russell Campbell, who’s in charge of the training, said the meal is a final exam. The students had to come up with the menu and the theme. I had a scallop appetizer, a caramelized onion soup, tuna with sesame noodles and a main entrée of bison and some sorbet and orange truffles.
Grey: We have from, all the way from Germany all the way back around to Virginia, you know, coming around the Pacific, so we try to do a dish that encompass somewhere from our entire service and every branch we had in our respective class; so we try to give everybody their, you know, regional dish.
Staff Sgt. Heather Grey, stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, was a team leader for their Tour of Duty theme.
Grey: We have some Southern dishes, some central, you know, North American dishes and those kinda spices kinda go with what we, the main entree or the protein, if you will, with that, we paired all of that together. Her orange truffles, orange and chocolate go wonderful together; sashimi, wasabi, tuna, wasabi and soy sauce go well together, the bison you really get a peppercorn with a meat, a hearty American meat, so that kinda all went into plan; we took three days to plan our menu, to bounce ideas, to start with something and to end with our end product.
The taste of each dish was unique and the end result was an exceptional meal, served in fine restaurant style. The next day, the theme was Hell's Kitchen and the diners were Marines. They were served quail and scallops, lobster and beef wellington.
Campbell explained that the culinary training, like everything else at Fort Lee, is growing.
Campbell: Starting next fiscal year in January, it'll be a five full week course where we're gonna add opportunity for ACF certification, which is American Culinary Federation, and then the enlisted A course right now is nine days and it's gonna go to a full three-week course.
This training, General Cross noted, also offers the service men and women a leg up when they leave the military.
Cross: They can get certified as a chef if they follow this route and it sets up life after service.
John Ogle, WCVE News