CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN
Story by Lance Cpl. Kindo Go
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – The sounds and smells of sizzling food filled the III Marine Expeditionary Force kitchen, as Marine Corps food service specialists feverishly navigated through around grills, fridges and their fellow competitors.
Three teams faced off for the chance to be crowned the best, and competed for the title of Chef of the Quarter. The kitchen floor was slick with cooking oil, but that did not slow down the competing chefs from completing their dishes.
Marines from Okinawa and Iwakuni, Japan competed in the 2019 Chef of the 4th Quarter competition Sept. 26.
The competition was split into two days, with a written test the first day measuring the eight teams on their knowledge of culinary subjects, and narrowing it down to the top three.
The second day included the top three teams turning up the heat in the kitchen. Each team prepared their best dishes, hoping to sway the taste buds, and the votes, of their judges.
Marine Corps units host Chef of the Quarter competitions every quarter to help showcase food service specialists across the Marine Corps and their culinary skills. During every competition, each team competing must cook and display a full course meal consisting of a side dish, entree, and dessert for each of their judges.
“This is an important competition for us food service Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jamal Russel, the III Marine Expeditionary Force Support Battalion Mess Hall manager. “This competition gives our Marines who want to participate the opportunity to display their culinary skills.”
The competition helps develop food service specialists, as it allows them to explore and share culinary ideas.
“I think it’s important for food service specialists to participate in these competitions,” said Tommy Pham, a food service specialist with 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, and a member of the winning team of the competition.
“It’s much more than a competition. It gives you a lot of opportunities in the future, like going to college for culinary art, or later on in life getting a job,” he said.
“This competition also helps develops a more creative view on culinary arts, which I believe, can help us food service Marines better ourselves.”
Members of the military occupational specialty 3381, food service specialist, are key figures in keeping Marines fed and healthy by insuring proper food preparation, storage, and distribution of quality, healthy food items.
“I believe this competition is something that helps represent us food service Marines,” said Russel. “It’s more than just reading a recipe and preparing a meal. It’s about making sure that you’re feeding Marines and taking care of them. This competition not only highlights those who compete, but all the 3381 [Marines] across the Marine Corps who put in the hard work and dedication.”