MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Combat Center Marine and civilian chefs fired up their grills and competed in a Chef of the Quarter Competition at Phelps Mess Hall Dec. 18, 2013. The chefs were tested in three different aspects of culinary arts.
“This competition gives these chefs a chance to prove that food is more than fuel for the body,” said Maj. Eric Dominijanni, competition judge. “It is an art, but these chefs have to prove they know their stuff.”
The competition started with four teams. The first day of the competition, the chefs participated in a test focusing on basic culinary knowledge such as temperatures and cooking styles. After the test, the chefs competed in a jeopardy-style competition, which also tested them on basic culinary information. The top three teams earned a chance to compete in a cooking portion that was timed and monitored.
“We had four hours to cook our dishes,” said Lance Cpl. Ernesto Hernandez, blue team. “Everything seemed so fast. People were running around like crazy to try and get their plates done.”
All chefs were given the same ingredients to choose from and were instructed to make an appetizer, entrée and dessert. The dishes were judged on multiple factors including taste, presentation and an explanation of how it was prepared and how the ingredients were utilized.
“It was tough, but nice to have freedom and be able to cook what you want and how you want,” said Cpl. Eric Dibble, blue team. “This competition gives us a chance to get away from being restricted to a menu and I am proud to say we came out on top.”
The winners of the chef of the quarter competition were Cpl. Eric Dibble and Lance Cpl. Ernesto Hernandez.
“This competition is good for all of Marine Corps food services,” Dibble said. “We are not just combat cooks that mass-cook everything. We are good at what we do and we prove it in these competitions.”