News: Marines battle for Chef of Quarter title
Story by Lance Cpl. Unique B. Roberts
CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Three food service specialists with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron competed in the Chef of the Quarter competition Dec. 12 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Mess Hall.
The competition tests the contestants’ ability to create, present and understand the culinary arts specific to their military occupational specialty.
Lance Cpl. Nick Vallejo took the first place trophy, creating an Italian dish of penne with zucchini and chicken in pink vodka cream sauce. For desert, he served mascarpone panna cotta with strawberry caviar.
“I did about a month’s worth of planning,” said Vallejo. “You can have everything planned out but when it comes to game day, there are still things you have to prepare for, and luckily because I did prepare for those expectations, I was able to see them through with little to no conflict.”
The food was awesome across the board, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 David J. Labonta, a food service officer with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2.
“This is the first Chef of the Quarter where we had Marines prepare food that they never made before,” said Lance Cpl. Rachyle A. Smith, the assistant training noncommissioned officer at the mess hall. “The purpose of Chef of the Quarter is to show Marines who don’t work in the chow hall the skills we have come to learn over the course of being here.”
The competition shows the Marines’ ability to dress up presentation and make the taste, texture and color pop, said Smith.
After the competition, the Marines received feedback and tips for improvement for future competitions.
Winners of the Chef of the Quarter competitions advance to the Chef of the Year competition where they will vie for an opportunity to train at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.