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Pit Masters cook off builds camaraderie, sharpens skills

By Cpl. Ashley Phillips | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | May 18, 2018


  Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort hosted a mess hall cook off featuring food service specialists from the air station and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island May 16.

  The quarterly cook off is a friendly competition held to foster camaraderie and sharpen skills. Three teams composed of Marines, Sodexo contractors, and one Soldier put their skills to the test to prepare a BBQ meal in this Pit Masters themed cook off.

  “When we hold these competitions, it is an opportunity to show the Marines the level of commitment our food specialists have when preparing their food,” said Sgt. Maj. Derrick Mays, the sergeant major of MCAS Beaufort. “Our intent is to promote good interactions between our Sodexo and Marine food specialists and what better way to build camaraderie than with a little friendly competition.” 

  There were two teams representing the air station, a pair of Marines and a pair of Sodexo workers. MCRD Parris Island’s team consisted of a U.S. Army Soldier currently stationed at the depot and a Sodexo worker. This was the first time in the competition’s 13-year history that a team had both service members and Sodexo workers on the same team.  

 “This competition has been going on since Sodexo began contracting with Parris Island and the air station,” said Michael Smith Jr., a manager at MCAS Beaufort. “Originally it was a way to build cohesion between the contractors and Marines, but now it also serves to sharpen the competitor’s skills.”

   This cook off’s theme was Pit Masters. The teams had five hours to create a BBQ sampling platter featuring chicken, ribs, and brisket. At the end of the time allotment, the teams plated their finished product. The plates were presented to three judges and scored.

   “For me, what definitely set the winner apart was the presentation,” said Mays. “That shows just how much they care. The food of course needed to be cooked well, but the presentation they put forth was the determining factor.”

   There was also a people’s choice award where five random judges were selected to sample the plate. The winner of both the people’s choice award and the overall competition was the Sodexo team from MCAS Beaufort.

   “This event was fun and I am looking forward to competing next time for first place,” said Cpl. Demetrius Gray, a food specialist and competitor. “It was also a great opportunity to sharpen our skills as chefs and have some fun competition with our Sodexo workers.”