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    Navy Culinary Specialists sharpen skills at Joint Culinary Training Exercise

    Navy Culinary Specialists sharpen skills at Joint Culinary Training Exercise

    Photo By Russ Stewart | Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Oduro prepares food during the Mobile Kitchen...... read more read more

    FORT LEE, VA, UNITED STATES

    03.09.2023

    Story by Russ Stewart 

    Naval Supply Systems Command

    Eleven Navy chefs from across the fleet are competing at the 47th Annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) March 4-10, at Fort Lee, Virginia. This year’s training event has 161 U.S. military personnel from installations and activities around the world as well as allied forces teams from France, Germany and Great Britain.

    The JCTE is the largest military culinary competition in North America. The competition is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and showcases the talents of military chefs from around the globe. JCTE is considered one of the premier culinary competitions in the military, and is highly regarded within the culinary industry.

    “Coming together from all these different locations, backgrounds and cultures, learning from each other and becoming a team,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (CS3) Noe AlvaradoJuarez. “That’s the most important thing I’ve learned from [JCTE].”

    This exercise promotes growth in the culinary profession with a focus on tenets in modern culinary development-ability, practicality, nutrition, workmanship, economy, presentation, creativity, and concept.

    One of the unique aspects of the JCTE competition is that it brings together culinary teams from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as international military teams. This provides an opportunity for military chefs to network, learn from one another, and showcase their skills on a global stage.

    The JCTE competition is also known for its rigorous judging criteria, which emphasizes not only the taste and presentation of the dishes, but also the military-specific aspects of food service, such as the ability to cook in the field and maintain strict food safety and sanitation standards.

    Compared to other culinary competitions, such as the World Culinary Olympics or the Bocuse d'Or, the JCTE competition has a more specific focus on military food service and logistics. However, the JCTE competition has gained increasing recognition within the culinary industry and is seen as a prestigious event for military chefs.

    In addition, winning the JCTE competition can qualify a team to compete in the Culinary World Cup, a prestigious international culinary competition traditionally held in Luxembourg. This provides an opportunity for military chefs to showcase their skills on a global stage and compete against top culinary teams from around the world.

    “I didn’t even know an event like this existed,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman (CSSN) Larry Burns, who competed in the Student Chef of the Year event. “Our Food Service Officer, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Domagalski, who’s really into professional development, gave me the opportunity to try out for the NCAT.”

    The JCTE has a rich history dating back to the early 1970s. It was originally called the Armed Forces Foodservice Competition and was created to improve the quality of food service in the military and to provide a forum for culinary specialists to showcase their skills.

    Over the years, the competition grew in popularity and became an important event for military chefs, with participants from all branches of the U.S. military as well as international military teams. In 2000, the competition was renamed the JCTE to reflect its joint-service focus.

    The JCTE competition has evolved over time to incorporate a wide range of culinary skills and disciplines, including field cooking, catering, baking, and pastry arts. The competition is now held every two years at the Fort Lee Army base in Virginia, which is home to the U.S. Army Quartermaster School and the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence.

    “What I’ve learned is that we’re a family,” said CSSN Lamia Jackson. “We’re not here competing against each other, we’re rooting for one another, protecting our family and fellow chefs.”

    The Navy food service values the participation by Navy chefs in the JCTE for several reasons including:

    Promoting the importance of good nutrition: The competition promotes the importance of good nutrition, particularly in the military context. By showcasing the skills of culinary specialists and highlighting the important role they play in providing nutritious meals for military personnel, the competition helps to raise awareness about the importance of good nutrition for overall health and well-being.

    Recognizing the talents and dedication of military chefs: JCTE provides an opportunity for military chefs to showcase their talents, learn from one another, and network with colleagues from around the world. By recognizing and celebrating the skills and dedication of these culinary professionals, the competition helps to raise awareness about the important work that they do in supporting the mission of the armed forces.

    Supporting military readiness: The JCTE competition helps to support military readiness by promoting and improving the quality of food service in the military. By providing training and development opportunities for culinary specialists, the competition helps to ensure that military personnel have access to high-quality, nutritious meals that are essential for maintaining physical and mental readiness.

    Promoting cultural exchange: By bringing together military chefs from around the world, providing an opportunity for cultural exchange and promoting understanding and cooperation among different countries and cultures.

    “Knowledge of the craft is key,” offered CSSN Burns. “It opens up possibilities of how to use the resources you have on hand.”

    Winning at JCTE can bring several benefits to the winning team and its members.

    One of the primary benefits of winning the competition is the recognition and prestige that comes with being named the top military culinary team. Winning can lead to increased opportunities for the team members, such as career advancement and job opportunities in the culinary industry.

    Another benefit of winning the competition is the opportunity to represent the military in international culinary competitions. Winning the JCTE competition can qualify a team to compete in the Culinary World Cup, a prestigious international culinary competition held in Luxembourg. This can be a significant opportunity for military chefs to showcase their skills and represent their country on a global stage.

    The U.S. Navy Culinary Arts Team (NCAT) is made up of culinary specialists from Navy food service teams from across the globe. Selected through a series of try-outs last October, this year’s competitors are: Culinary Specialist 1st Class (CS1) Derhon Finch from USS Mustin (DDG 89); Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (CS2) Samuel Babativa from USS Essex (LHD 2); CS2 Kris Cristobal from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.; CS2 Daniel Oduro from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); CS3 Noe AlvaradoJuarez from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71); CS3 Meckel Joy Mallari from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; CS3 Haiwen Wu from PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79); CSSN Larry Burns from the Essex; CSSN Lamia Jackson from Strike Fighter Squadron 34 (VFA 34); CSSN Bella Liu from Airborne Command and Control Squadron 123 (VAW 123); and CSSN Sameer Marshall from the Mustin. The team leader is Chief Culinary Specialist-Subsurface (CSSC) Donta Allen from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center San Diego.

    Navy Culinary Specialists are responsible for preparing and serving meals for Navy personnel both onshore and at sea. They play a critical role in maintaining morale and ensuring that sailors are well-fed and ready to perform their duties.

    “Navy food service equals readiness,” said CS1 Derhon Finch. “Our Sailors know that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner they can depend on a good meal despite whatever else is going on in their day.”

    Culinary Specialists in the Navy are trained in all aspects of food service, including menu planning, food preparation, sanitation, and nutrition. They work in galleys (kitchens) on ships, submarines, and at Navy bases around the world.

    Some of the specific duties of a Navy Culinary Specialist include:
    Preparing and serving meals for sailors, officers, and other personnel
    Planning menus and ordering food supplies
    Maintaining galley equipment and supplies
    Following safety and sanitation protocols to prevent food-borne illnesses
    Managing inventory and keeping records of food usage, waste and
    Providing hospitality services for special events and ceremonies

    Becoming a Navy Culinary Specialist requires completing basic training, followed by culinary school training at the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence in Virginia. After completing training, Culinary Specialists can be assigned to a variety of duty stations, including ships, submarines, and shore-based facilities.

    In addition to preparing meals for Navy personnel, Culinary Specialists may also have the opportunity to work in other food service roles outside of the Navy, including as chefs, restaurant managers, and caterers.

    “Our job is hard and critical on the ship, especially while deployed,” said CS3 AlvaradoJuarez. “Food service is one of those things that can never stop, the crew needs to be fed 24/7, 365.”

    Bringing together the NCAT is a monumental task which was facilitated this year by NAVSUP headquarter’s own Ms. Cheryl Hernandez, the Capt. Edward F. Ney Awards program manager. Hernandez ensured that all travel arrangements, lodging and even food prep supplies were lined up and ready to go throughout the entire JCTE timeline from January to March.

    The Navy Food Service Program is part of NAVSUP and provides operational and financial policy guidance designed to improve the quality of life for Sailors by ensuring our Navy general messes efficiently and economically deliver high-quality nutritious foods that exceed customer expectations.

    NAVSUP's responsibilities include managing the Navy's supply chain, including the procurement, storage, and distribution of materials and equipment; providing financial and accounting services for the Navy; managing Navy-owned and leased real estate; and overseeing the Navy's food service programs.

    In addition to supporting the Navy, NAVSUP also provides logistics and supply chain management services to other branches of the U.S. military, as well as to allied and partner nations.

    “When I return to my ship, I’m bringing back what I learned here,” said CS3 Haiwen Wu. “Where I’ll be able to share it with our team, especially what I learned about teamwork; it’s essential.”

    There are several ways to obtain more information about the JCTE, including:

    The official JCTE website: The JCTE website provides information about the competition, including rules and regulations, schedules, and past winners.
    https://quartermaster.army.mil/47th-JCTE.html

    Military news outlets: Military publications such as Stars and Stripes and Army Times often cover the JCTE competition, providing news and updates about the competition and its participants. Articles and images may also be found on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS)
    https://www.dvidshub.net/search?q=JCTE

    Social media: You can follow the JCTE on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the latest news and updates.

    Military culinary organizations: There are several organizations that support military culinary programs, such as the ACF and the International Military Chef's Association, which may provide information about the JCTE competition and other military culinary events.

    Contacting the Quartermaster School which hosts the JCTE competition, may be able to provide additional information about the competition and its participants.

    NAVSUP is headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employs a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 25,000 military and civilian personnel. NAVSUP and the Navy Supply Corps conduct and enable supply chain, acquisition, operational logistics and Sailor & family care activities with our mission partners to generate readiness and sustain naval forces worldwide to prevent and decisively win wars.

    Learn more at www.navsup.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/navsup and https://twitter.com/navsupsyscom.

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    Date Taken: 03.09.2023
    Date Posted: 03.09.2023 15:49
    Story ID: 440058
    Location: FORT LEE, VA, US 
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