SALT LAKE CITY, UT, UNITED STATES
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Brent Powell
FORT DOUGLAS, Utah – An audience of stainless steel refrigerators, freezers, ovens and shelves full of endless supplies stand silently by watching a red electric mixing bowl whirl in endless circles under the critical eyes of a camouflaged Soldier, who carefully feeds a steady stream of ingredients into the hungry machine, releasing a sweet delectable aroma and filling the room with the unmistakable scent of pastries in the making.
That Soldier is Army Reserve Spc. Dain Shim, a combat medic and native of Seoul, South Korea, assigned to the 479th Chemical Battalion, 415th Chemical Brigade, 76th Operational Response Command. Shim, is currently mobilized here in support of Army North’s COVID-19 response efforts where she is not only using her medical skills to help ensure Soldiers are healthy, she is also using her special set of civilian skills to keep them well-fed and happy.
When not performing duties with the Army Reserve, the 24-year-old graduate of the Culinary Institute of America can be found working as a pastry chef at a well-known, world-class restaurant in New York City, New York that has more than 150 employees and has received numerous accolades for its refined European cuisine, world class cellar and gracious hospitality.
Now she is putting those highly-refined baking skills to work here by volunteering her free-time to create spectacular, mouth-watering pastries in the dining facility at the unit headquarters.
“The first time I heard Spc. Shim was baking in the dining facility here, I went over to see what she was up to, and when I opened the door it smelled like home in there,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Darlington, command sergeant major, 76th Operational Response Command. “I asked her what she was doing, and she just replied with this huge smile, ‘I’m baking pies’. I’ll tell you, it smelled heavenly in that kitchen. I watched Soldiers enjoy her creations that day and saw the huge smiles on their faces. That was obviously a huge morale booster to the Task Force at a time where people were running on two-weeks straight of 12-hour plus days. She really put a pep in some folk’s step which was phenomenal.”
Shim, who monitors the daily health of headquarters personnel and assists other medics with sick call, starting her baking passion after a trip to the United States at the age of 15. It was there her aunt and uncle introduced her to American desserts and pastries, igniting the passion within her to start creating the stomach-pleasing cuisine.
Upon returning to Korea, Shim shared the desserts with her family and friends, and then decided to further pursue her new found love in earnest by taking baking classes after school. Within a year she had passed the Korean National Baking Test and became officially nationally certified. However, her baking aspirations didn’t stop there. At 16-years-old, she moved to the United States where she finished high school and then moved to New York where she graduated from the culinary institute.
“I really enjoy creating things that please people,” said Shim, who for the past couple of weeks, has produced an impressive variety of baked goodies for Soldiers here including blueberry oatmeal crumble pie, peanut butter pie, coffee-flavored dark chocolate ganache pie, chocolate cheesecake cupcakes, pina colada cupcakes, carrot cake cupcakes and even a special birthday cake to honor the 112th birthday of the U.S. Army Reserve. “Seeing people enjoy my creations is really fulfilling and makes me happy.”
When COVID-19 began spreading across the United States, Shim volunteered to help out and was mobilized to support the whole of government response efforts. Shortly after arriving at the 76th ORC headquarters, Shim began looking for an opportunity to share her baking skills with her fellow Soldiers.
“Spc. Shim quickly let me know she was a pastry chef and that she would love the opportunity to not only help take care of our troops medical needs, but also take care of them by making their tummies feel good,” said Col. Diane Godorov, division surgeon, 76th ORC. “She has a wonderful ability to create deliciousness and share it with all of us, and her creations are absolutely delicious.”
Shim plans to continue providing the delicious treats to her teammates here while she is mobilized, with cookies next on her list of goodies to bake.
Her willingness to share her skills seem to be appreciated by all who have been able to sample her culinary creations. “Spc. Shim stepped up and volunteered to do this on her own time,” said Darlington. “It is a real testament to her as a Soldier living and displaying the Army Values.”