MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Four times each year competitors from the mess hall at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., go head-to-head for top honors as Chef of the Quarter here. Cpl Wesley Overholtzer earned the title Feb. 19, but not for the first time.
Overholtzer is a food service specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron and has won the Chef of the Quarter competition twice during his time at Cherry Point.
Overholtzer impressed the judges with a summer themed meal featuring pork loin, spinach with pineapple vinaigrette, pineapple coconut curry rice and a cheesecake with chunked pineapple and coconut shavings.
“It feels good being back in the competition,” said Overholtzer. “It is always refreshing being here, having free-range to do whatever I want with the meal instead of having to follow a recipe card.”
For Overholtzer, food competitions are his opportunity to get creative and show off his true culinary capabilities.
“I really like to cook with flavors I know complement each other,” said Overholtzer, a native of Westminster, Md. “I am more of a summertime kind of person, so I chose coconut and pineapple because they complement each other well and I have lots of experience cooking with them.”
According to Overholtzer, competitions like the Chef of the Quarter are about having fun and breaking away from the routine at the mess hall.
“For someone entering this competition for the first time I would say relax and just have fun,” said Overholtzer. “Cook what you know and bring something different to the table.”
During the quarterly competitions, three food service specialists with the mess hall square-off to test the Marines’ culinary skills, from the planning stage and preparation to cooking and presentation.
The competition is designed to assess the skills and abilities of food service specialists at the mess hall. The competitors come from several squadrons at Cherry Point, including Marine Wing Support Squadron 271, Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 and H&HS.
According to Staff Sgt. William F. Taylor, the competition gives the chefs an opportunity to showcase their talent by adding a personal twist to a uniquely prepared meal using only items available in the mess hall’s pantry.
“When preparing for the competition, the Marines take into account their table display, plate display, food tastes, presentation and knowledge of their dishes,” said Taylor, a field mess staff noncommissioned officer with MWSS-271. “The judges look for attention to detail, each chef meeting their timeline and the overall taste of the food.”