News: K-Bay cooks win American Culinary Federation medals
Story by Christine Cabalo
HONOLULU — Four Kaneohe Bay cooks whipped up medal-winning dishes at the 2010 Hawaii Culinary Exposition Student Competition and Salon held at Kapiolani Community College Dec. 10.
Cooks from various units at Marine Corps Base Hawaii each took home an American Culinary Federation medal after serving up a hot meal for ACF judges. Food service specialists Cpl. William Johns of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and Lance Cpl. Blanquivet Cuz of Headquarters Battalion, won gold medals for their dishes. Bronze medals were also awarded to Lance Cpl. Xiongmee Vang and Cpl. Mohamed Ameerally of Headquarters Battalion.
“I think we all did well,” said Johns, whose dish also was chosen as the best in show. “Doing competitions like these pushes your limits.”
Johns and Ameerally cooked a hot meal using the secret ingredients they found in their mystery baskets: pork chops, white asparagus and brussel sprouts. Ameerally said he was nervous, but felt he put out a memorable meal.
For the poultry category, Cuz and Vang prepared hot chicken dishes using a pre-planned menu. Cuz, a former MCB Hawaii Chef of the Quarter winner, showed impressive techniques, said ACF judge Stafford DeCambra, corporate executive chef, PCI Gaming in Alabama.
“We’re dealing with classical cuts and testing true basic skills,” DeCambra said. “The contestants needed to demonstrate solid cooking skills needed to shine.”
Judges also rated contestant’s performance by dish composition, taste and organization. John Hui, corporate pastry chef at Pebble Beach Resorts, said dishes could be the most innovative but miss the mark if a chef was too slow or served plates cold. Each of the Anderson Hall cooks put in a stellar effort, he said, some with time to spare.
“They were taught how to cook simple dishes but serve them perfectly,” Hui said. “Judging this we looked at what components accompanied their requirements, the ingredient compatibility and nutritional balance.”
Proud to see the Anderson Hall cooks do well, Rene Marquis, military regional director, American Academy of Chefs, said competitions of this type are invaluable.
“They are the quickest way to improve culinary skills, without toiling away in a restaurant for a long time,” Marquis said.
Marquis is also an Army sergeant first class and an enlisted aide at the U.S. Special Operations Command. He trained and competed in team competitions against K-Bay’s Gunnery Sgt. William Allison, assistant mess hall manager, Headquarters Battalion.
After meeting Marquis’ and the other ACF judges’ high standards, the Anderson Hall cooks will start preparing for 2011 U.S. Armed Forces Culinary Competition. Working together, the four cooks are scheduled to compete in the team competition challenges in Fort Lee, Va. For now, the Anderson Hall cooks said they enjoyed competing as well as examining presentations from others featured at the expo.
“I think we’ve gained a lot of experience from this,” Johns said.