EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FL, UNITED STATES
Story by Sgt. James F Abraham
Spc. Nathaniel Bansi, a culinary specialist assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was selected to join the Fort Bragg Culinary Arts Team to participate in the 2019 Joint Culinary Training Exercise.
The Joint Culinary Training Exercise, administered by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, is the largest American Culinary Federation-sanctioned competition in North America. It will take place at Fort Lee, Virginia, beginning March 9, 2019, and will showcase more than 200 of the U.S. military’s finest chefs from each branch of service.
This is the 44th iteration of the competition, which consists of 12 categories and takes place over the course of six days. Some of these categories include: live cooking, nutrition hot food challenge, food displays, live demos, military hot-food kitchen challenge, Student Chef of the Year, and Armed Forces Chef of the Year.
Bansi is the first member from 7th SFG(A) to be selected since the unit relocated to Eglin Air Force Base from Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2011. He explains that cooking has been a long-time passion of his from the time he spent with his grandparents as a child, well into his adulthood.
“I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” said Bansi. “My grandma would tell me that as a kid I would go down to the lake to fish, and when I returned I’d be anxious to cook them.”
Beginning early December, he will train as part of a ten-man team at Fort Bragg that will travel to Fort Lee to compete in the joint forces culinary event.
“When I initially heard that I had been selected to the team, I was ecstatic and nervous at the same time,” said Bansi. “Now I feel like I’m well prepared for this event and I am looking forward to displaying my skills.”
“I love being a cook, and I care about what I put onto a plate. It’s not something that can be done half-heartedly. Cooking must be your passion because it requires a lot of tender love and care.”
In addition to showcasing the military’s best chefs, the JCTE also provides an opportunity to raise culinary arts excellence and professionalism among service members.
“Bansi is a great example of the talent 7th SFG(A) culinary arts team is producing,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Suzette Silva, the 7th SFG(A) food service advisor. “His hard work and love for culinary arts is the standard that every food service Soldier should emulate.”
Competing in the JCTE will allow this paratrooper to prove that months spent training and memorizing recipes will ensure his team’s success. Those who know Bansi’s passion for food and work ethic are proud to see him succeed and wish only the best while on the Fort Bragg Culinary Arts Team.
“Bansi will represent our organization with dignity and respect,” said Master Sgt. Richard Townsend, the 7th SFG(A) senior culinary management non-commissioned officer. “I think this young Soldier in the Army will become a future leader of our Nation. I am honored to serve with Soldiers like him.