In August 2017, Sgt. 1st Class Dedric White, the Stryker Inn Dining Facility manager, began formulating an idea that would allow young culinary specialists the opportunity to train under more experienced cooks. This idea became known as the Culinary Korner. The 1st Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, had the pleasure of hosting the 3rd Culinary Korner, at the Stryker Inn DFAC on Rose Barracks, Germany, Jan. 24, 2018.
Spc. Christopher Richardson and Spc. Preeda Pathomsakul, culinary specialists assigned to 1/2CR, spent two weeks training under the mentorship of Staff Sgt. Dameion Dalton, a culinary management non-commissioned officer with more than 19 years of experience including culinary competitions and instructing. During this training, Richardson and Pathomsakul had the opportunity to hone their skills and learn new techniques. These techniques ranged from plating and presentation to basic knife skills and cooking methods.
“I think [this training] is important for the juniors in the military because it shows that we can do more than just line cook. We can actually do culinary type cooking,” said Dalton.
The event consisted of a three-course meal, which was selected and prepared by Richardson and Pathomsakul. The meal was served to the 1/2CR Command team, Troop leadership and meal card holders from throughout the Squadron. Together, Richardson and Pathomsakul prepared a mixed salad with balsamic vinaigrette, a beef roulade stuffed with wild grain rice and spinach served with sautéed green beans and a zesty cheesecake for dessert.
“Now that I have been able to do this training, it has reignited my passion for food because I felt like my knives were getting dull,” said Richardson. “Getting up here and having people who are unbiased, and they taste my food, and you tell me ‘it’s good’, it is a validation that I am on the right track. I am doing what I know that I love and what I know that I am good at.”
Richardson’s advice to future participants is clear.
“Be persistent, listen and learn,” said Richardson. “Absorb, especially when you have someone such as Dalton that knows so much and does not mind teaching you.”
Training opportunities for young cooks are not easily found in the European theater. White’s hope is that with the additional training, the Soldiers will be better prepared to compete for a spot on the U.S. Army Europe’s culinary team, which competes each year for the Philip A. Connelly Award at the United States Culinary Arts Competition at Fort Lee, Virginia.
“We had three soldiers that participated in the first two Culinary Korners and they made the USAREUR culinary team,” said White.
The first two Culinary Korners included the culinary specialists from the Regimental Support Squadron and the Field Artillery Squadron. White hopes to continue the program, ensuring the remaining squadrons have the opportunity to participate before he hands over the reigns to the DFAC in May.