MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Dec. 9, 2010) --
Marine food service specialists competed in a chef of the quarter competition at the Cherry Point Mess Hall Dec. 9.
The two competitors, both with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, referred to the competition as the battle of the islands, since their dishes were inspired by their Puerto Rican and Haitian heritages.
“We’re Caribbean brothers,” joked Lance Cpl. Jose A. Santiago, who won the competition with a Puerto Rican-themed dish, consisting of seasoned pork chops, calico corn, steamed rice and apple crisp for dessert. To wash it down, Santiago served non-alcoholic Pina Coladas, which the judges indulged in.
“It was a good addition to the presentation,” said Cpl. Josh R. Tate, who was one of the three judges. Tate, an administrative clerk at the station adjutant’s office added, “Both dishes were full of flavor, and I’d eat them again.”
The competitors were judged on their preparation, presentation and overall taste of their food, explained Cpl. Deshonda N. Curtis, the assistant training noncommissioned officer of the mess hall.
Santiago said he felt relaxed during the competition because of his training and the fact that he learned to cook at a young age.
The second place dish had a Haitian twist, consisting of chicken, vegetable stir fry, dumplings and chocolate devil’s food cake, which was all prepared by Lance Cpl. Rashaad S. Riboul.
“The more chocolate the better,” said Riboul. “Everybody loves chocolate.”
With the contestants preparing a variety of foods, Curtis and the Marines stressed the importance of time management.
“Time management, time management, time management,” said Riboul. “That’s really what this job is all about.”
Curtis did her best to make sure they didn’t stress-out too much. She helped them with ordering their food, preparing their uniforms and getting all the proper table settings they needed.
“It’s about the Marines getting an opportunity to show what they can do and be rewarded for it,” Curtis explained. “It’s also a great way for the Marines to build their confidence.”
Both Marines said they took satisfaction in seeing the guests and judges enjoy the food they prepared.
Lt. Col. Samuel P. Mowery, the commanding officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, and guest of honor, presented the Marines with their respective trophies.
“The food was excellent and both competitors did a great job,” added Mowery.