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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

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Twentynine Palms, California
Cooks try their skills in Chef of the Quarter

By Cpl. Thomas Mudd | Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms | June 22, 2017

Twentynine Palms -- The Marines of Phelps Mess Hall competed with one another during the Chef of the Quarter cooking competition, June 21, 2017.
The competition gave Marines and Sodexo chefs the ability to cook against each other in a friendly competition and break away from the very ridged routine schedule.

“We don’t get a whole lot of freedom in what we get to make for the regular meals here,” said David Richmond, executive chef, Sodexo Twentynine Palms. “This competition gives the Marines a chance to use their culinary skills and relight their fire for cooking.”

The competition started with the chefs taking a written test and the three best teams of two participants in the cook off the following day.
“This quarter there was a larger amount of Marine participants,” Richmond said. “For the first time that I can remember there are only Marine teams conducting the cook off. Another thing that is different is that one of the teams is composed of two staff sergeants, usually only sergeants and below take the opportunity.”

The theme for this quarter’s competition was “South of the Border’. The teams made their own menus consisting of one appetizer, an entree and a dessert. The teams were also given the time to marinate any ingredients they needed and prepare for their next full day of cooking.

“I wanted to participate in this quarter’s competition to use the skills that I have learned and see just how well I could cook compared to the people that I work with,” Lance Cpl. Carlos Amaya, chef of the quarter contestant. “My partner and I decided to make a few dishes that I learned from my mother who is from Mexico.”

The food preparation began at 6 a.m. and lasted until approximately 10:30 a.m. After the food was cooked the Marines prepared their dishes for three judges and up to 40 addition people who would be critiquing their food.

“There are three different awards that could be won in this event, so there are several different places that could be taken by the participants” Richmond said. “One is the Peoples’ Choice, which is decided by the people other than the judges who attend the tasting during lunch. The next is the Chefs’ choice, which is determined by the in house chefs and other personnel of the building who look at their healthy cooking practices and how they prepare their food. Last is the Judges’ Choice which is the overall winner of the competition.”

This quarter the Chefs’ Choice went to Staff Sgt. Calvin Reed and Staff Sgt. Edwin Ramirez. The Peoples’ Choice and the Judges’ Choice both went to Cpl. Tyler Faaborg and Lance Cpl. Carlos Amaya.