Ready Chef Competition

Pfc. Blessing Harris, 163rd MI BN, checks the temperature of the chicken, Aug. 23, 2018, Fort Hood, Texas. Culinary Specialists are required to check the meat temperature every time they cook. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard)



Story by Sgt. Melissa Lessard 

504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade 

By: Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard 504th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs
(FORT HOOD, Texas, Aug 29, 2018)—During the early morning hours on August 23, Soldiers with the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion and 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion start their morning off ready for competition.
“The friendly intra-brigade competition consisted of an Army Physical Fitness Test, and ‘Iron Chef’ styled mystery basket cook off, and concluded with a formal board hosted by the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade Food Service Team,” said Chief Warrant Officer 1 Lance Thomas, the brigade food advisor. “The event allowed the participants, Pfc. Shaquille Lipscomb and Pfc. Blessing Harris, to tap into their creativity and draw out their full potential as competitors.”
The goal was to execute a realistic and technically challenging competition between Always Ready culinary specialists in order to increase sustainment, readiness and build esprit de corps.
Both soldiers completed the APFT then went to the Always Ready Dining Facility to start the second phase of their challenge, which was to prepare a three course meal. The meal was judged by Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Austin, Lt. Col. Patrick Miller, and other brigade and battalion staff.
Both Lipscomb and Harris said that they did not know what they would be cooking with that day.
“I was hoping they would let us pick our own stuff,” said Lipscomb.
As the Soldiers walked into their cooking area there was a refrigerator that displayed various items from lettuce, potatoes, carrots, strawberries, blue berries, butter, and other foods. There was another stand that contained spices they may have needed for cooking. A few minutes before the competition started both Soldiers received a mystery box that contained chicken, cauliflower, and horse radish.
Both Soldiers hustled and bustled around the kitchen, maneuvering past sight seers and daily business cooks. The aroma of food filling the air.
“For my appetizer I made garlic bread sticks with shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese,” said Lipscomb. “For my main meal I made baked Caribbean chicken with sautéed carrots. The carrots were glazed with pineapple. I also made mashed potatoes with cheese. For my dessert I cut up bananas and strawberries with a hardened chocolate covering.”
Pfc. Harris said she has never had experience cooking in a competition or without recipe cards.
“I made fruit salad as my appetizer with strawberries, pineapples, bananas and radish”, said Harris. “For the main course I made chicken with soy sauce, green beans on the side, and potatoes. For dessert I made vanilla cream pudding with strawberry and bananas.”
After cooking the three course meals, both Soldiers stood in front of a judging team to present their meals and have them critiqued.
Both Soldiers attended a board as their last event.
“I was very nervous,” said Harris. “I couldn’t stop moving around.”
While Harris may have been nervous, she said she did have fun and learned how to cook without relying on a recipe card.
Lipscomb said he was nervous when he was told about the event, but he had more fun than he initially thought. He also said that he learned a lot from the experience.
“This was more than just a competition,” said Thomas, “it was more than that. This training event allowed us to refine our passion for the Food Service Program with the way ahead, which to me is the most important aspect of all. Aside from esprit de corps, we wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate outstanding military excellence and achievement for our culinary specialists. It’s always about our Soldiers, who are our future leaders as food service professionals.”

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