MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Three Marines slaved over hot stoves and boiling pots for several hours preparing fully-flavored perfect meals. With utensils at hand, the Marines were able to cook up individual meals that looked appealing to the eye and captivated three judges' taste buds.
Food service specialists battled in the kitchen, whipping up savory meals to be named the chef of the quarter at the Cherry Point mess hall June 23. The competitors were judged on their preparation, presentation and overall taste of their food.
Cpl. Gary E. Havner with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 won the competition with a meal of shrimp, calico corn and pineapple crunch for dessert. Havner is also scheduled to compete in the annual chef of the year competition.
“It feels great to win a competition,” said Havner. “When I enter into a competition, I give it everything I have. The chef of the quarter competition exists to bring out potential from our Marines. If they signed up to be a food service specialist, then they must have some kind of a passion for food.”
Though Havner won the overall competition, the judges' facial expressions showed they were content with each meal.
“Overall, I think that the food was pretty good,” said Gunnery Sgt. Timothy J. Lindeman, the acting Engineer Company first sergeant for MWSS-274. “There were certain aspects of this dessert or that side dish that could have been better. I think the toughest time they had was the rice, making it taste good and not bland. I would have eaten all of that food any day of the week.”
Pfc. Brandon M. Bower, a food service specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, took second place in this quarter’s competition, which was his first time being a contestant in chef of the quarter. Bower said this competition will help him in future competitions.
“I just took it as a learning experience because I’m new here,” said Bower. “I just go with the flow and learn as I go. It’s very important to know the job; we can’t risk putting raw food out. We make sure that the food people eat is safe.”
Regardless of rank, every Marine needs to eat. Cooks fill an important role on the air station by feeding the Marines and Sailors of Cherry Point. Without sustenance, a force cannot fight.
“The role of cooks in the military is (to feed the service members) and everyone needs to eat,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Valentin the third contestant in the competition from H&HS. “We’re there to lend a helping hand to all of the armed forces that need to be fed, so they can carry out their mission. This competition shows the importance of our role and gives recognition to Marines who may deserve a little more by getting tasked to units where they can serve and make more of a difference (like the mess hall).”