Story by Sgt. Alexandra Shea
PABRADE, Lithuania – “Fifteen minutes has passed,” yelled Staff Sgt. Labon Davis, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment Dining Facility manager.
As his voice resonated throughout the tiled building, six Troopers ran between preparation rooms and industrial stoves, sometimes barely escaping a catastrophic collision of food and pans.
The six are focused as they prepare a meal created from a given set of ingredients: chicken breast, potatoes and a head of cabbage.
“This is my first cooking competition. I’m nervous,” said Pfc. Maiya Gonzalez, a 2-8 Cav. Reg. food service specialist. “I just got out of training.”
Despite her junior experience, Gonzalez gave her all as she prepared chicken breast sautéed in garlic butter, garlic roasted potatoes and a side salad with homemade croutons.
With only 45 minutes to complete their meal using all the mandatory ingredients, a panel of five judges waited for their meals to be plated and presented.
“Tell us about your meal,” said Capt. Riley Kramer, Forward Support Company commander, as each presented their plates.
After each competitor showcased their creations to the judges, they took a seat and began a series of promotion board questioning as the judges tasted their meals and scribbled notes on their score cards.
“I didn’t like mine,” said 2-8 Cav. Reg. Operations Sergeant Maj. Nathanael Greene jokingly as he slid his empty plate forward. “I need you to go back into the kitchen and get me another plate.”
“It was challenging,” said Spc. Christian Ames, food service specialist. “I made some little chicken tostadas with a salad and caramelized apples and roasted potatoes. I just made what I like.”
Ames’s strategy and sense of humor during a lightning round of board questions earned him the top title of Cook of the Quarter.
“I know I had some competition but I’m confident in my meal,” Ames said.
Ames was awarded with a Certificate of Achievement signed by Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Steven Jackowski and a coin presented by Kramer.
“Competition makes us better,” Kramer said. “These Troopers did an outstanding job. This competition makes our cooks better so they can better support our advance forward support team.”