JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC, UNITED STATES
Story by Airman 1st Class Christian Silvera
Peaches. Peaches were the key, in the end. However, Marilyn Mactaggart and her team were a step ahead, anticipating any curveballs thrown their way – peaches were part of their plan the whole time.
To promote morale between squadrons, three teams from the 628th Contracting Squadron and 628th Force Support Squadron were given one hour to make a dish during the Southern Delights Food Competition, June 17 at the Gaylor Dining Facility on Joint Base Charleston.
A panel of judges assembled together to decide on the best food dish by judging the appearance, as well as the taste of the food.
“We heard about this and participated because we love cooking and competition,” said Marilyn MacTaggart, 628th CONS contracting officer, and Spartan and Grits team member.
The teams were provided chicken, cornbread, eggs, milk, pancake mix, various spices, and one secret ingredient – peaches. Twenty minutes into the competition, peaches were brought out to be incorporated into the recipe of the competing teams.
“We anticipated peaches being the secret ingredient,” said MacTaggart. “We thought about every scenario and how we were going to do it, and it played out exactly how we thought.”
In the unfamiliar cooking environment of the dining facility, teams were faced with a number of difficulties as they scurried across the kitchen, gathering all of their necessities.
“Some difficulties were not knowing where things were in the kitchen and what produce was going to be available,” said MacTaggart. “Besides that, it all kind of went pretty smoothly.”
After an hour of sweating it out and perfecting their dishes, the teams were ready to present their masterpieces to the judges.
Following an extensive and difficult decision by the judges, Spartan and Grits was announced as the winner of the competition, edging out the second-place team by one point.
The team made a crispy fried chicken with a peach-strawberry barbecue sauce; peach cornbread with a hot honey sauce, and pickled cucumbers, onions, and peaches.
“I loved the creativity and the taste,” said Chief Master Sgt.Vernon Jackson, 628th Civil Engineering Squadron senior enlisted leader and competition judge. “I think they used the ingredients the best, especially the cornbread. The flavors just jumped out.”
MacTaggart said that in the future, she and her team hope to see more events like this as they love competition, and it helps boost morale.
“These types of events encourage morale and bring together groups that normally don’t interact with each other,” said MacTaggart. “We never interacted with FSS before, so events like this build cohesiveness.”
While these kinds of events can be good for generating teamwork, they can also foster healthy rivalry.
“I think healthy competition is always great,” said Jackson. “Bringing different squadrons of people together to form a team and create something you put in front of them to judge and have fun with it, it just builds morale.”
Following the success of the Southern Delights Food Competition, the event coordinators intend to open registration to the entire base, potentially happening in the near future.