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Team Alaska’s Spc. Shawna Williams cuts poultry during the Contemporary Live event cooking contest March 6.Alaska chefs claim culinary competition honors

Young team turns in seasoned performance
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Connie Storch
Fort Wainwright Public Affairs

Soldiers from Fort Wainwright and the Black Rapids Training area competed with members from all military branches in the 33rd Annual Culinary Arts Competition March 1 through 14 at Fort Lee, Va.

The results were surprising, according to team organizer, Jimmy Neal, the Food Program Manager for Fort Richardson.

“It was a young team,” Neal said, but they did well considering they had “no experience at that level of competition.”

Neal explained that commendations or honorable mentions were anticipated, but the medals were above and beyond his expectations considering the advanced level of competition.

The competitors had a chance to join in seminars and other classes during the two weeks of competition, and Neal said it was evident from the outcome that Team Alaska put what they learned into action right away.

  The road to the Culinary Arts Competition began at Fort Wainwright for Team Alaska. That’s where Neal held his cooking class and regional competition this year.

  In selecting the team to represent Team Alaska, Neal first sent out notification to all the Army kitchens in Alaska. Interested cooks then had a chance to show off their skills in a “live cooking competition,” Neal said.

He said challengers vying for a spot on Team Alaska were required to cook and present a meal consisting of a meat, starch, vegetable and garnish.

They were also judged on the ability to create a dessert pastry. Meals and dessert were made up for three judges, plus a display.

For the most part, Neal allowed the members of Team Alaska to choose their categories for competition.

Team Alaska competed in team table displays, centerpiece and buffet platter categories.

They also joined in the field competition, without a lead NCO, which is called for in the guidelines.

Team Alaska soldiered on and “pulled off a bronze” in the category, “with all E-4s and below,” marveled Neal.

Because many of Fort Richardson’s cooks have recently redeployed, they did not  participate this year. Neal says he hopes to have cooks from both installations involved in next year’s competition.

With three hours of preparation and cooking in the mobile kitchen trailer and then one-half hour to serve, members of Team Alaska discuss their game plan at the start of the Armed Forces Field Kitchen event March 7. Team Alaska’s Pfc. Ryan Campbell creates a chocolate-covered cherry dessert during the Armed Forces Field Kitchen Event March 7 at the 33rd U.S. Army Culinary Arts Competition at Fort Lee, Va.
Team Alaska’s Spc. Shawna Williams organizes the fresh fruit and salad display during the Armed Forces Field Kitchen event.