News: 3rd CAB showcases culinary skills, incorporating popular cooking shows
Story by Capt. Chad Ashe
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. – The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade held its first Marne Air Iron Chef competition March 19 at Hunter Army Airfield’s Dining Facility to showcase the culinary skills of its food service specialists. The competition was based largely on popular television shows where chefs compete against each other for being crowned top honor.
Four teams comprised of two food service specialists from 3rd CAB competed by creating a shrimp appetizer, main course with salmon, and a dessert of their choosing. A secret ingredient of peanut butter was added by Col. John D. Kline, 3rd CAB commander, minutes before the competition started — when many of the teams had already formulated a game plan.
“I wanted to highlight our chefs that work day in and day out down here at the DFAC,” said Kline. “They really don’t have a chance to show off their skills other than the Connelly Award that takes place every year.”
Kline added that he wanted a great competition where the chefs showed off their skills in front of their Family, peers, and fellow soldiers.
Army 1st Lt. Debbie Smith, Headquarters Support Company, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, was the officer in charge of the competition and chosen by her company commander to plan the event.
“It’s another way to advertise our dining facility and the capabilities that our [food service specialists] have, what they bring to the table here, and to put us on the map,” said Smith. “A lot of times our soldiers don’t necessarily come here to eat. They will go to other places but there is so much talent right here, and the best way to showcase that will be through the competition.”
As the 3rd CAB commander, Kline judged alongside Command Sgt. Maj. James Snyder, 3rd CAB command sergeant major and Command Sgt. Maj. James A. Mitchell, U.S. Army Garrison, HAAF. The three judges based their scores across four categories: presentation, taste, originality, and use of the secret ingredient.
At the end of the competition when the judges tallied their scores, it was close. Two of the three judges had separate teams as the winner. The third judge had each of those teams tied. So a final meeting had to occur at the food display for judges to make their arguments as to who the one winner would be.
When the paprika settled, team three of Spc. Shanequa Cooper and Pfc. Camilo Cordoba was announced the winners.
Cooper said their culinary skills combined are better then when they are separate. As for the secret ingredient of peanut butter, neither seemed worried once they saw its reveal.
“I really wasn’t worried about the secret ingredient only because a lot of stuff that we had was sauce based and especially with our dessert, we knew it was going to go perfect with it,” said Cooper.
Cordoba agreed and said he was excited for the opportunity to showcase their talents in this competition attended by the unit’s leadership.
“Sometimes we underestimate ourselves because we are limited to certain items that we have to make, but this is a great opportunity for us,” added Cordoba.
During the acceptance speech, Cordoba thanked his wife for the dessert recipe. Later on after the interview he revealed the secret ingredient that made it so successful during judging: peanut butter.