FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Food service specialists from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division’s dining facility held a Cook of the Quarter competition on Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Jan. 15.
The competition consisted of both an administrative board and a cook off with the dishes judged by the brigade command team of Col. Brian Reed and Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Sims, and the Brigade Support Battalion’s command team of Lt. Col Michael Scarlett and Command Sgt. Maj. Tramell Finch.
“This type of competition happens all over the Army,” said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Propes, dining facility platoon sergeant. “It does two things; it builds knowledge and experience for our cooks, as well developing competition, and it lets everyone else know what all goes into being a food service specialist and what they’re capable of.”
The competitors were given a menu the day before the event so they had a small amount of time to mentally prepare. Then, when the cook off began they were told the “mystery ingredient” that had to be worked into each dish.
“Our mystery ingredient was avocado,” said Pfc. Nathan Beamon, “so I made a dry cranberry avocado vinaigrette and then an avocado cheesecake for desert.”
A large part of the competition was the contestant’s ability to communicate with their assistants.
“Each of us had our NCO there as our runner,” said Beamon, “so we were put in the leadership role and really had to communicate clearly what we wanted them to do.”
“Having our NCO there assisting us not only multiplied our effectiveness with another set of hands,” said Pfc. Ian Haywood, who won the competition, “but we were able to rely on their knowledge and experience.”
The competitors were also required to explain their choices and process to the judges during the tasting part of the competition.
“I cook every day, “said Beamon, “but I really enjoyed this. I’m competitive and it was fun to show off what I can do.”