Fort Drum, New York, was recognized as the runner-up for Culinary Team of the Year by Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride, Quartermaster General, American Culinary Federation lead judge Roland Schaeffer, and Quartermaster Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Vidal at the awards ceremony March 15 as part of the Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) at Fort Lee, Virginia. The 44th annual JCTE officially started March 9 at MacLaughlin Fitness Center and continued until March 14. The exercise, administered by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, is the largest American Culinary Federation-sanctioned competition in North America. The exercise showcased the talent of more than 200 military chefs from all military services around the globe to include three international teams. (Photo by Dani Johnson)
Marines cook their way to the top
at Joint Culinary Training Exercise,
as Fort Drum finishes second for Army
Combined Arms Support Command Public Affairs
FORT LEE, Va. (March 15, 2019) – For the first time, the Marine Corps was recognized as the Culinary Team of the Year and 293 American Culinary Federation (ACF) medals were awarded to military chefs at the 44th annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) awards ceremony here March 15.
Thirteen teams vied for Culinary Team of the Year with the team from Fort Drum, New York, as the runner-up to the Marine Corps.
JCTE started March 8 with the Armed Forces Chef of the Year event and continued until March 14 with the culmination of the International Two-Chef Culinary Challenge.
The exercise, administered by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, is the largest ACF-sanctioned competition in North
America. This year’s exercise showcased the talent of 201 military chefs from all military services around the globe to include four international teams.
Fort Drum, New York, was recognized with the best student team, all five members having less than two years in culinary arts, by Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride, American Culinary Federation lead judge Roland Schaeffer, and Quartermaster Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Vidal at the awards ceremony March 15 as part of the Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) at Fort Lee, Virginia. (Photo by Dani Johnson)
“Your participation in the exercise demonstrated your commitment and passion for culinary excellence,” said Brig. Gen. Douglas M. McBride Jr., Quartermaster General. “What you do plays an integral part in our military readiness across the joint force.
“Napoleon is often quoted as saying ‘the Army marches on its stomach,’ and that is 100 percent true,” said the general. “In order for our service members to be effective on the battlefield, they must have healthy and plentiful delivered on time, on target, in any operating environment.”
This year, more than 4,000 people were on hand to watch 22 teams with 399 cooking entries judged, competing from all five service branches and three countries.
“Must recognize the competing Soldiers and their coaches who are striving for recognition to showcase their talent and skills in an effort to become better cooks and chefs to improve the quality of the culinary food industry,” said Chef Roland Schaeffer, lead judge, ACF.
“You have to become a good cook before you become a good chef,” he added.
The Fort Drum student team was recognized as the best team with all five members having less than two years in culinary arts; Chief Petty Officer Frida Karani, culinary specialist, U.S. Navy, was recognized as Best Master Chef; Spc. Mark Caseres, culinary arts specialist, Team Hawaii, won Best Armed Forces Chef; and Lance Cpl. Christopher Sanchez, food service specialist, Marine Corps, won Best Student Chef.
The first year at JCTE, the Pastry Chef of the Year candidates had to create a plated dessert and a celebration cake. Staff Sgt. Samantha Poe, District of Washington, was recognized as the Pastry Chef of the Year.
The Fort Drum student team, Karani, Poe and Sanchez are now eligible to attend the ACF National Convention & Show, to take place Aug. 4-8 in Orlando, Florida.
Best in Show - Individual, Sgt. Bruce Serafica, Fort Carson, Colorado, was recognized as one who stood out to the judges through his workmanship, attitude, passion, exemplary future leadership and culinary excellence. Four countries -- United States, France, Great Britain, and Canada -- participated in the International Challenge, with Team France coming out victorious.
Along with testing their skills in one of the many categories, 38 service members also tried for a spot on the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team. The USACAT is the military’s national culinary team, and it offers members the opportunity to compete in international-level while sharpening and broadening their skills. Poe, Serafica, Spc. Kaitlyn Tran, Fort Carson; Staff Sgt. Andrew Shurden, Fort Stewart, Georgia; Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Jeffrey Plotz, U.S. Coast Guard; Culinary Specialist 1st Class Jeremy Anderson, U.S. Naval War College, Rhode Island; Staff Sgt. Justin Chase, Fort Meade, Maryland; and Sgt. Nickesha Carmichael, Pfc. Jordon Broadway, and Pfc. Tylor Brooks, Fort Drum, will represent the U.S. Armed Forces in the Culinary Olympics in February at Stuttgart, Germany.
“All of these folks here will travel back to their unit, teach what they learned from each other and they raise everyone else’s game,” said U.S. Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Jason M. Vanderhaden, who started his career as a culinary specialist and held a cooking demonstration during JCTE. “Everyone aspires to want to be the best at what they do, this helps to showcase that and help train people to raise their game.”
Competing chefs were judged based on ACF guidelines; they were not competing against each other but against industry standards. Those who exceeded industry standards were given medals – 42 gold medals, 112 silver medals and 139 bronze medals were presented to military chefs who met the judging criteria.
The best of those were awarded the following:
Culinary Team of the Year:
Runner-up: Fort Drum
Judges Award, Best in Show:
Armed Forces Master Chef of the Year:
Armed Forces Chef of the Year:
Armed Forces Student Chef of the Year:
Army Enlisted Aide of the Year:
Chase. Chase serves as the enlisted aide to Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency, and chief of the Central Security Service.
Student Team Competition:
International Team of the Year:
Military Hot Food Kitchen – five-person team using the Army mobile kitchen trailer, preparing a buffet meal for 50 guests:
Nutritional Hot Food Challenge – celebrates National Nutrition Month and healthy cooking:
Sgts. Klinton Bautista and Clarence Robinson, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Pastry Chef of the Year:
Winners in special categories included the following:
Best Exhibit in Show (Category D, Culinary Showpiece):
Spc. Mark Pulido, Fort Bliss, Texas
Judges Special Award (Cold Food Table)
Competing service members are afforded the opportunity to earn ACF certifications, a recognized industry-standard credential. These credentials help the chefs provide better service to their customers in the dining facilities, as well as acceptance in the civilian sector when the service member transitions out of the military.