Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Wayne Barnett
It’s not typical dining facility fare — fennel-crusted tuna with jicama, seared duck breast, saffron-infused rice and strawberry rhubarb tart with raspberry whipped cream and blackberry sauce.
These are just some of the dishes that 11 Fort Carson cooks prepared Feb. 14-15 to practice for the 37th U.S. Army Culinary Arts Competition Wednesday-March 7 at Fort Lee, Va.
“The hardest part of the competition we face is eight days of continuous competitions with one of those lasting 36 hours,” said team captain Warrant Officer Ronald Burwell, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
The U.S. Army Culinary Arts Competition at Fort Lee is the largest culinary competition in North America, according to the U.S. Army Quartermaster School website, http://www.quartermaster.army.mil. Since 1973, the competition has been held each year with the exception of 1991 and 2003, during Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The competition is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation and showcases the talents of military chefs from around the globe in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, according to the website.
“I think our biggest challenge is that the other teams do train year-round and may have a little more experience, but with hard work and dedication I feel we will pull through,” said Spc. Paige Atkinson, 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
The team is comprised of team leader Sgt. 1st Class Javier Carrasco, 64th BSB, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.; Burwell; Sgt. Tabb Hall and Pvt. Mathew Murren, 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment; Atkinson, Spcs. Kishor Giri, Shawn Hafele and Andrew Timm, 64th BSB, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.; Sgt. Guy Donnelly, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div.; Spc. Tabitha Howard, 3rd Bn., 29th Field Artillery Reg., 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.; Spc. Joseph Lynn, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Bn., 43rd Sustainment Brigade; and Spc. Paul Mitchell and Pvt. Michael Rhodes, 1st STB, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
This year’s competition will introduce some new categories, such as live on site melon carving and cake decorating.
Results from the competition will be announced in March.