‘Iron Chefs’ team up with FirstLight FCU
Master Sgt. Kelly McCargo, 1st AD Public Affairs:
During the past 15 years the military food service corps has steadily been gaining respect and notoriety throughout the military community.
Thanks in no small part to the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team’s gold and silver medals, during the 23rd Annual International Culinary Exhibition, or “culinary Olympics,” in Erfurt, Germany, in October. The USACAT competed against more than 1,500 chefs from about 54 countries, and placed fourth, overall.
Now the culinary Olympic torch has been passed.
Nine Team Bliss Iron Culinary Arts food service specialists will represent the 1st Armored Division at the 38th Annual Culinary Competition, at Fort Lee, Va., March 3-15.
The Iron Culinary Arts Team, El Paso American Culinary Federation and the El Paso FirstLight Federal Credit Union formed a bond and plan to bring home the gold.
To prepare for the competition the culinary arts team used a thorough training regimen.
“We purchased the required American Culinary Federation cook books and trained with numerous ACF chefs throughout El Paso,” said Sgt. Maj. Amelia Fisher, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, chief food service sergeant major. “We critique one another; [and] we also prepare dishes for open events.”
There are nine categories during the ACC and the Iron Chefs will be competing against some of the best cooks in the Army, National Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Reserve forces, and DoD and contract civilians.
Success at the ACC leads to the ACF National Convention Competition, July 2013, and finally to a potential spot of the USACAT.
“My hope of course is to come home with the Gold, but it’s more important to give food service personnel the opportunity to compete, excel and showcase their talents and get selected for the special assignments the Army has to offer,” Fisher said.
The food service corps has numerous advanced training opportunities, like the General Officer Enlisted Aide Program and in-flight stewards for the Commander-In-Chief on Air Force One. There are also chefs for either the Secretary of Defense or Joint Chiefs of Staff “mess”, or dining facility, at the Pentagon.
“[Food service specialists] can get selected for the Training with Industry Program for a year which is a work-experience program that provides extensive exposure to corporate American managerial techniques and industrial procedures,” Fisher said.
Some assignments are with: the American Culinary Federation in St. Augustine, Fla.; the Vintage Club in Indian Springs, Calif.; the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, Texas; and Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky.
Like all Fort Bliss units, the Iron Culinary Arts Team have been feeling the budget pinch but with contributions from the El Paso community, like the FirstLight Credit Union, they are “steaming” along.
Fisher said she hopes Soldiers recognize the contributions of the food service corps to improving moral and nutrition.
“Appreciate what [food service specialists] can do and are able to do for them in both the garrison and in the field environments,” she said. “We are Soldiers just like you, and we take pride in what we do.”
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