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Food service Marines, civilian chefs compete in Chef of the Quarter

By Cpl. Mark Watola | Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune | October 27, 2016

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Food service Marines and civilian chefs put their culinary skills to the test during the Chef of the Quarter competition at the Wallace Creek Mess Hall on Marine Corps Base, Oct. 20.

During the bi-annual event, four teams from various mess halls vied for the coveted title. In preparation for the event, teams prepared recipes under the premise of a small catering company, throwing a party for a large crowd.

"We bring the civilian side of our community and the military side to show that we can do this together," said Wade Smith, Camp Geiger mess hall lead production manager. "We do that every day, but (in this event) we can showcase our cooks and their abilities."

Competitors presented their dishes to the judges, to sell themselves as the best choice for the simulated catering job. After judging, each team served 40 portions for hungry attendees, hoping to win their vote for an additional award.

"Typically they have four hours to prepare the three or four course meal they provided, so their day is coming in and starting from scratch for that menu," said David McElhinney, Wallace Creek mess hall general manager. "Then they present it to (the judges) and for the People’s Choice Award. It’s a pretty action-packed, fast day for them."

Although the teams were competing against one another, they learned from their dishes and each other.

"I like the camaraderie; both Marines and civilians with food service are up for the challenge," said Smith. "Once you challenge food service, they put forth their best effort in a challenge outside of the box. It brings the best out of everyone on both sides."
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