News: ‘Team Alaska’ military chefs prep for national competition
Story by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - A 12-member culinary team comprised of U.S. Armed Forces food service professionals from across Alaska completed their final rehearsal dinner ahead of an upcoming competition Feb. 26, 2014, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
“Team Alaska” is scheduled to compete in several categories at the Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event at Fort Lee, Va. March 9-13. The competition, now in its 39th year, is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation.
Team Alaska members prepared a three-course meal in a U.S. Army Mobile Kitchen Trailer and served the meal to distinguished military and Alaskan community leaders.
The team is primarily made up of junior enlisted personnel and is captained by Sgt. 1st Class Randall Summerford, who is assigned to the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. Service members with the Air Force and Army from JBER and Fort Wainwright make up the rest of the team’s roster.
“Being a joint base, we are able to bring in our partners from the Air Force and from our USARAK partners up north [U.S. Army Alaska, Fort Wainwright],” said Summerford. “We all got together about three-and-a-half weeks ago, and we’ve been training for this field-team event where we use our normal MKT system to create a three-course meal.”
First on the menu was a mixed green salad, followed by a main course of stuffed rib eye steak, and finished off with a two-layered red velvet cake with raspberry sauce for dessert.
Due to deployment rotations in recent years in support of the Global War on Terrorism, this year marks the first time in seven years that USARAK has been able to assemble a team for the competition at Fort Lee.
There are several events scheduled for Team Alaska at the competition. Most team members will be competing for medals in at least two categories each.
Summerford said he plans to expand Team Alaska in the coming years to include Armed Forces personnel from the Coast Guard, National Guard, and other military components from across Alaska.
“I am enjoying this, and I’m happy to be a part of our team, but I’m a little nervous though, because I heard we might be on TV,” said Senior Airman Jasmine Fortune, the team’s pastry chef who is assigned to the 673d Mission Support Sustainment. “I’m in the field event, which means I will be cooking on the MKT, and I will be cooking the pastries, the cakes, so I have to perfect my job for the team.”
In addition to the events scheduled at Fort Lee, Team Alaska has two members who will compete for a spot on the prestigious U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team. USACAT makes up the U.S. National Military Culinary Team which competes in local, national, and international competitions.