Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cathrine Mae Campbell
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
Amongst the six commands that competed, Ford placed second overall with the judges, but captured first place for “People’s Choice” winning $250 to share among the Sailors who participated in the cook-off.
Although the weather was less than desired due to the wind and rain, Ford Sailors showed up in full support of their division, their department, and their command.
“This is the second time we’ve volunteered to compete in this competition,” said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Tonia Rogers, from Toledo, Ohio. “We want to show everyone how a Ford culinary specialist can have fun and get down in a competition against other commands.”
Fleet Fest is an annual event and sponsored by Morale, Welfare and Recreation: Live entertainment, ship tours, static aircraft displays, military demonstrations, car shows, food vendors and a chili cook-off are offered throughout the weekend, and the event is open to the public at no cost.
“We like to participate every year to promote comradery amongst our guys and indulge in a little bit of friendly competition with other commands,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Naomi Jackson, from Surrey, England. “It also gives them a broader idea of our rate and the things we can do besides cook in the galley.”
There were two parts to the chili cook-off judging. The first part was a taste test at the beginning of the event after the culinary specialists had finished cooking their chili and provided a sample to the judge’s tent. The second part came during the event as visitors purchased tickets to sample all of the chili from the different commands and left their ticket as a vote at the command’s tent that was their favorite.
“Even through the rain, we were still dancing on our day off while making chili and having fun,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Alora Armstrong, from Pueblo West, Colorado. “We were out here in our onesie costumes with Senior Chief Rogers to stand out from everybody and I think we did an amazing job at it.”
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