HARRISBURG, PA, UNITED STATES
Story by Russell Stewart
Naval Supply Systems Command
Army Sgt. Pete Linton and Navy Culinary Specialist 1st Class Marlon Haughton faced off for the Army – Navy Cook-off event at the 104th Pennsylvania Farm Show Jan. 9, resulting in a win for the Navy chef.
“This is the second year in a row I have had the privilege of attending the cook-off and I have to say the event just gets bigger and better,” said Lt. Cdr. Ryan Wodele, director, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Navy Food Service Program Operations. “A Culinary Specialist, a Navy chef, operates in difficult situations often, so this event really shows off their talents and ability to succeed in a timed evolution in front of a big crowd.”
CS1 Haughton from the USS Montana (SSN 794) and Sgt. Linton from the Pentagon’s Army Executive Dining Facility met for the first time just hours before the competition. It soon became apparent that the two military service members not only grew up in the same town of Montego Bay Jamaica, but mere blocks from one another.
Decades later, the two were brought together at the Pennsylvania Farm Show held every January at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It is the largest indoor agricultural event in the United States, attracting more than half a million visitors every year to the 24 acres of indoor exhibition space. The PA Preferred stage where the event was held was standing room only by the time the cook-off began.
PA Preferred is a state-supported agricultural marketing program to identify and promote food and agricultural products grown, produced or processed in Pennsylvania.
The military chefs were teamed with local news celebrities as their assistants and were provided a basket of locally-sourced surprise ingredients to work with. In the basket this year were spatchcock chicken, gala apples, red and white potatoes, bacon, mushrooms, purple basil and honey from the governor’s residence beehives. They were given 30 minutes to prepare four identical dishes for judging.
“The partnership between the military and PA farmers is rooted in the production and preparation of healthy and great tasting food products,” said Wodele. “The support and respect that is shown to each other as we build on the tradition of this event is outstanding and I certainly am honored to be part of it.”
Haughton was recently awarded for managing the Navy Culinary Arts Team during the 2019 Joint Culinary Training Exercise at Fort Lee, Virginia. His team earned 27 medals in both team and individual events.
“I like to cook and have been cooking since I was very young back in Jamaica,” Haughton shared. “My family is big and the kitchen is where we congregated so, naturally, since I liked to listen to the older generation, I had to find a way to stick around or I would be rushed outside.”
The lively crowd cheered loudly and often for the Army and Navy teams while the event was broadcast live on local and affiliate TV stations.
A panel of four judges rated the dishes on flavor, technique, visual appeal, and creativity. Haughton was awarded the highest score and was named the competition’s winner.
Judging the competition this year were Sarah Dachos, deputy director at Farmer Veteran Coalition; Barry Crumlich, executive chef – Pennsylvania Governor’s residence; John Moeller, former White House chef and author of “Dining at the White House – From the President’s Table to Yours;” and Greg Magee Jr., regional vice president, Customer Care, Northeast Division-Keystone Region for Comcast NBCUniversal.
“Food is independence in a sense,” explained Haughton. “There are few jobs in the Navy where you get to be as creative.”
Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP’s mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter.
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