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Cook-off challenges Marines, develops creativity

By Cpl. Brendan Roethel | | May 30, 2014

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort food service specialists competed in the Mess Hall Cook-Off at the Consolidated Mess Hall aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, May 20.

The competition pit Marines against Sodexo mess hall cooks. To compete in the biannual competition the Marines needed to complete the Culinary Foundations Course and have one of the top four scores in the class. The cook-off was held to teach Marines how to think creatively and use their knowledge to create unique dishes.

Air Station food service specialists Cpl. Kelly Adams, Cpl. Juan Garay, Lance Cpl. Fermin Sanchez and Lance Cpl. De’Von Jackson competed in the competition.

“Each year it seems as if the food just gets better,” said Joey Carles, the general manager of the Consolidated Mess Hall aboard Parris Island. “Through this competition we hope to get the cooks out of their comfort zones. They are so used to cooking alongside a very strict menu, but here they can break away and use their own backgrounds and styles to make something different.”

In the competition, there were four teams with two cooks each competing against one another. The winning team would receive first-place medals, a cookware set and a trophy.

“When I found out I was going to participate in the cook-off, I was excited,” Jackson said. “I hope to take away different skills from this event that I can use to further my Marine Corps career and when I get out of the service.”

The contest was judged by a panel of four Marines, who selected the winner based on taste, temperature and presentation.

“It’s good to see some competition, so it keeps all the chefs and cooks on top of their game,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eugene Lucas, the station ordnance officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard the Air Station. “I have judged this competition many times, but it’s seeing the competitive spirit in the participants, the teamwork, effort and delicious food that brings me back every time.”

Other judges included Gunnery Sgt. Curtis Magee, the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company on Parris Island, 1st Sgt. Patrick Stevens, the company first sergeant for H&S Company, and Master Sgt. Gabriel Martinez, the traffic chief for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard the Air Station.

“Although I came in last place, I am still proud of how I did and what I was able to accomplish,” Jackson said.

“Everyone, especially the Sodexo cooks, did very well, and I am interested to see what we can all bring to the table when we go back to our daily routines. At the end of the day it was a great experience and I hope I can participate in it again.”