FORT CARSON, CO, UNITED STATES
Story by Sgt. Tanisha Karn
Four cooks from 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) arrived early equipped with vegetables diced, meat sliced, stoves lit, and spices in hand Sept. 24 at the Culinary Center on Fort Carson ready to compete.
10th Group held a Culinary Challenge for Soldiers who served in the Bridge the Gap program, a program that lets Soldiers train with head chefs of various restaurants in the community over a time-span of 45 days.
Each Soldier was given a list of ingredients they had to incorporate into their meals, which consisted of an appetizer, entrée, and a dessert.
Lt. Col. Matthew Alexander, Commander of Group Support Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, as well as a panel of chefs from the Bridge the Gap program judged each course of the meal.
“I wanted to see the Soldiers we have trained downtown to showcase what they learned outside of the military,” Alexander said.
Alexander expressed his concern about how the army has a very limited variety of ingredients and recipes. He said this challenge makes the Soldiers think outside the box and makes the best meals possible for the Soldiers they feed.
“I had no idea what the ingredients were going to be until this morning,” said Spc. Simon, a culinary specialist with 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group. “I had no idea what I was going to make!”
Simon said the experience he gained while working in a restaurant helped him increase in food production and refine his knifing skills.
Simon applied these learned skills and won the competition with fried sausage followed by a pan seared chicken with sautéed vegetables and butter roasted potatoes, and a mango pear crumple to top it off.
Overall, the chefs were in awe of the Soldiers’ performance.
“I was impressed with their skill, presenting their food to be judged and accepting our criticism on what you can do better and having fun,” Suphansa Banker, an award-winning executive chef at the Wobbly Olive, who only started the program 40 days ago.
Alexander even gave his nod of approval.
“The Soldiers did fantastic,” Alexander said. “It shows us they are taking the knowledge they are getting outside of the Army, and bringing it back to the dining facility and making it a better place.”