MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Cpl. Juliana Moreno, a food service specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 and won the Chef of the Year award Thursday at the Cherry Point Chow Hall.
Her main course of Bandeja Paisa, a traditional Colombian dish consisting of generous portion of meats, beans, and rice, beat out both of her competitors.
The Chef of the Year competition was a showdown between the winners of this year’s Chef of the Quarter competitions, said Master Sgt. Leonard Crooms, the food services officer with H&HS. One Chef of the Quarter was unable to compete due to a personal conflict.
The competition was close. Lance Cpl. Jessica Ames, a food service specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, made an angel-hair Alfredo with poached prawns. Pfc. Wesley Overholtzer, a food service specialist with MWSS-274, made pan-seared Cajun shrimp.
1st Lt. Rene Barber, a judge of the competition, said the final decision was tough to make. “They did a great job – all of them," said the MWSS-274 logistics officer. It was hard to choose one.”
All three competitors will each receive a Meritorious Masts; Moreno will receive a 72-hour liberty pass, a certificate of commendation, a trophy and a chance to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York, according to Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Bottiglieri, the assistant food service liaison for H&HS.
The Culinary Institute of America is considered one of the best culinary schools in the world, said Crooms.
As the winner was announced, emotions were high. The look of joy on Moreno’s face as she stood behind a display reflecting her heritage showed how much the award meant to her.
“It was a hard competition,” said Moreno, a Tampa, Fla., native. “Ames and Overholtzer are great cooks. But with all the hard work and the camaraderie, winning was a dream coming true.”
Although she has won Chef of the Year, Moreno is not yet done. She said she wants to keep learning and is excited for her chance to go to Culinary Institute of America.