FORT LEE, Va. --
A team of seven food service specialists, with more than 20 years of culinary experience between them, represented the Marine Corps at the 38th Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event recently.
The annual event, an American Culinary Federation-sanctioned professional-development program, featured individual and team challenges in a variety of categories. It provides a forum for service members to enhance their careers through chef certification and provides training to improve the overall level of food service in the military.
“The skills they learn here will help them improve the quality, production and service at their home stations,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Charles H. Talley Jr., chief of the Advanced Food Service Training Division, Joint Culinary Center of Excellence. The JCCoE trains and develops food service leaders, from all services, throughout their careers.
The event allowed the chefs to network and get feed back from internationally recognized professional chefs.
Gunnery Sgts. James Jamal and Jesse Rogers and Staff Sgts. Carlos Gonzalez, Richard Miner and Rudolph Montgomery prepared a three-course military hot food kitchen meal and participated in individual competitions throughout the week, showcasing the Corps’ culinary expertise. The dishes they prepared for the event varied greatly from the meals they would prepare in a field or mess environment.
The team received a bronze award for their participation in the Hot Kitchen Competition.
Most of the Marines who participated in the event were instructors at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School here, where cooks from throughout the services receive their training. The instructors used the opportunity to show their students how versatile their job is.
As Marines in the food service field progress in their careers, they have the opportunity to take advanced courses at the Culinary Institute of America, preparing them for a culinary career in or outside the Corps.
Advanced culinary graduates have the opportunity to cook for general officers in their households. The Marine Corps is the only service whose enlisted aide program is comprised strictly of food service specialists.
Gunnery Sgt. Luis Guardado, a graduate of the advanced culinary course, placed silver last year in his first appearance at the competition. This year, he placed gold for his dish in the poultry competition.
“It’s a passion I have for food service,” said Guardado, who encourages his students to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
“Whether you do four years or 20, you have to prepare yourself and be marketable when you get out,” he said. “So I take what I learn here and share that with my students.”