FRANCIS E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, WY, UNITED STATES
Story by Senior Airman Abbigayle Williams
For enthusiasts of cooking competitions such as “Chopped” or “Top Chef”, things heated up at the Chadwell Dining Facility during a friendly competition as Airmen from 90th Force Support Squadron Chadwell Dining Facility and ICBM Feeding Operations dished up their best entree with three celebrity chefs as mentors during the USO’s Celebrity Chef Tour Oct. 15, 2019, at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
Master Sgt. James Bruhl, 90th Force Support Squadron Chadwell Dining facility manager, said the chefs are traveling across the U.S. to boost morale at various military installations, meeting with service members and holding cooking competitions. F. E. Warren AFB was the first stop on the tour.
The celebrity chefs David Viana, Kevin Scharpf and Justin Sutherland, were all contestants on season 16 on Bravo’s “Top Chef”.
The event kicked off as the mystery ingredient, lamb, was unveiled to the contestants and judges.
With slabs of meat in hand, the competitors briskly walked into the kitchen, huddling into their teams to begin planning as the one-hour timer began to tick away.
The teams named The Startled Koalas, Kitchen Regulators and Chop It Like It’s Hot, were comprised of five Airmen each and one celebrity chef mentor. The goal was to create six portions of a dish, from scratch, with their mystery ingredient as the focus. Additionally, the teams were not allowed to use any technology or written recipes, as the final dish had to be unique.
Each dish was ranked individually by the five judges based on texture and doneness, taste and tenderness, creativity and originality, and portion and nutrition balance. The scores were tallied together for a final total.
The judging panel consisted of Col. Peter Bonetti, 90th Missile Wing commander, Col. Carolyn Ammons, 90th Mission Support Group commander, Chief Master Sgt. Charles Hoffman, Air Force Global Strike Command command chief, Col. Scott Fox (Ret.) and Carolyn Bouchard, Adopt and Airman Program coordinator.
In addition to boosting morale, Ammons said having the chefs here was extremely educational for the Airmen involved.
“This is good practice for when they deploy,” said Ammons. “It develops new skills and techniques before they go out and essentially run a whole kitchen in a missile field.”
Each team received glowing reviews from each of the judges such as “I never met a Brussels sprout I liked, but these were amazing,” however only one team could win.
Team three, Chop It Like It’s Hot, won the competition with their orecchiette pasta and lamb stew, with Chef Kevin Scharpf as the mentor. The winning Airmen, Senior Airman Angela Bolanos, Senior Airman Tejah Ellis, Airman 1st Class Jonathan Cunningham, Airman Jasmine Moore and Airman Sharon Zayzay, received a coin from the commander and a two-day pass.
The entire event was streamed live into dining facility for supporters, fans and the judges to watch.