MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – --
The kitchen was in a frenzy as food service specialists manned the grills at their cooking stations during a head-to-head Chef of the Quarter competition here, Aug. 6.
Two Marines with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron and one Marine with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 put their skills to the test as they were judged on presentation, taste, bearing and their food service knowledge during the competition.
“The competition is a morale boost and gives Marines bragging rights,” said Master Sgt. Dustin Cook, the Marine liaison at the mess hall with H&HS. “It is a way to prove who’s the best chef in the chow hall.”
According to Cook, Marines volunteered to compete in the event and were chosen as competitors based on the three highest scores on a basic food service fundamentals evaluation. The three selected competitors each created a unique menu based on a preselected theme: A traditional meal representing a region’s culture.
“There are very few restrictions on what the Marines’ menus included,” said Sgt. Christina Mendez-Olmedo, a food service specialist with MWSS-274 and the winner of the event. “Your menu could expand as far as your mind allowed. It gave the Marines a lot of confidence by showing them that even though they must follow guidelines, they can still be creative and make something great out of the ingredients found in the chow hall.”
According to Cook, Marines had the freedom to pick any dish they desired to prepare as long as it met the established theme criteria. The event challenges their creativity as they must have a meal prepared within the time allotted and provide the judges with a knowledgeable description of how it pertains to the theme.
Mendez-Olmedo received 1st place for her traditional Salvadorian meal. The meal represented the Marine’s cultural roots from El Salvador and her family traditions. Cpl. Djeela Anderson was awarded 2nd place and Lance Cpl. Larry Moore was awarded 3rd place.
“The inspiration of this meal was my mom,” explained Mendez-Olmedo. “She is the one push that I always need and she is always there encouraging me.”
Marines participated in the event and were highlighted not only for their skills as a food service specialist, but for the effort they put into the preparation of their meal and attention to detail. The event allowed competitors to express themselves freely while still competing in a professional manner.