Annual CNIC Culinary Competition Wraps Up, CNRMA Wins 1st Place

Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Brigitte Johnston | GREAT LAKES (July 14, 2022) All three winning teams of the annual Commander, Navy Installations Command Culinary Competition, held at Naval Station Great Lakes, pose for a group photo. Seven teams consisting of three chefs each from most Navy regions competed to be called the best chefs in CNIC. This is the seventh time the CNIC Culinary Competition took place at Great Lakes. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brigitte Johnston)



Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brigitte Johnston 

Naval Station Great Lakes Public Affairs 

Commander, Navy Installations Command’s (CNIC) Annual Food Services Ashore Culinary Competition held on Naval Station Great Lakes concluded on July 14. Seven teams from across the fleet joined for several days of training concluding in their final competition. This is the seventh time Great Lakes has hosted the competition.
“The Goodwill team here and the Navy team here really work together and they came together to make this happen,” said Anderson. “If you saw the list of people and everything that went into this, it would be crazy.”
Twenty-one competitors from various CNIC regions and installations came to compete, chosen from all of the culinary specialists across their respective commands. They spent three days learning new skills from professional chefs and building team strength before the competition.
“We want to teach them things that they can take back to their land-based or ship-based operation and enhance the food they’re producing there,” said Eric Anderson, Assistant Director of Food Services at Great Lakes. “We did training on how to make sauces, how to plate food, how to cut up a whole salmon, how to fabricate a whole chicken, how to make money from that if you were in a regular restaurant and utilization of all of the parts. There was training on specific knife cuts and culinary technique. We were very fortunate to have some great trainers here.”
With these skills in hand, seven teams came together for their mystery basket challenge. Each team had set time for preparation, cooking, and service to six portions of two dishes. Their baskets contained spinach, yukon gold potatoes, peaches, bacon, chicken, salmon, and a grain called freeka. Each team of three had to work together in the time limit and put their skills to the test.
“You don’t really have time to think, you only have time to do,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Sarah Server, captain for the team from Navy Region Southeast. “You really have to use your instincts. You feel relief when it’s over because you can take a breath and think ‘Wow, look at what I just did in the amount of time that I had.’”
At the awards dinner, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic was announced as the first place winner for the competition. Navy Region Southwest was awarded second and Navy Region Northwest placed third. All competitors went home with new cookbooks along with their skill sets and recipes to share with their home bases.
“I never thought that the Navy would lead me to something like this,” said Server. “Some people think ‘Oh you’re just a cook, you can’t really do anything.’ But no, we actually really have the opportunity to do so much. It’s fantastic.”
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