MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, JAPAN
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan – Aboard Okinawa, there are 20,000 Marines, many of which rely on the base mess halls for food. Preparing such a large quantity of food is no easy task, but every quarter, Marines hold a contest to determine which food service specialist can outperform their peers.
On Sept. 1, the two-day competition kicked off with a written and oral examination that tests competitors’ military appearance, knowledge, and bearing. The second portion of the event is focused on an evaluation of the Marines’ culinary, sanitation and nutritional skills.
“The chef of the quarter competition provides a venue for food service Marines to use their ingenuity and creativity,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Henry Dolberry Jr., commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, “This competition shows the Marines on Okinawa the full capabilities of the mess hall.”
There are eight Marine Corps mess halls on Okinawa. The Food Service Division’s mission is to supply all military personnel with well-balanced, nutritionally sound meals and to manage the personnel, facilities and resources required to operate an effective food service program. The mess halls operate under a 21-day menu cycle that offer a variety of meals, main line items, specialty bars, and snack lines.
“The mess hall’s food comforts Marines during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing food that can remind them of their families and home,” said Dolberry, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Today when I was judging the competition, each dish reminded me of the food I had when I was a child.”
All competitors put their best foot forward, but Lance Cpl. Deylyne Powell, and Lance Cpl. Kevyn Riveraortiz, food service specialists with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, stood out from the others. Powell and Riveraortiz prepared meals that included a shrimp stuffed potatoes, fried macaroni balls, burgers and tiramisu.
“It makes me proud to see the pride in my Marines’ eyes as they present the food they made to the judges,” said Gunnery Sgt. Celeste Joseph, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and a food service specialist with 3rd Supply Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group. “It is important for the Marines to compete in this competition so they can expand their comfort zones and boost morale.”
The event concluded with a presentation of a letter of appreciation and first place medal. The medals where presented by Dolberry and Sgt. Maj. Israel Rivera, the sergeant major of MCAS Futenma. Each competitor was given constructive feedback along with compliments, and encouragement as the event concluded.
“The mess hall will continue to meet and exceed the current standards today and in the future to come,” said Joseph “We want the Marines of Okinawa to come to the mess hall and leave with full stomachs and boosted morale.”