MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines take the battle from the frontlines of Afghanistan to the grill to determine the best cooking team that's west of the Mississippi.
Marines from the 14 Area chow hall, Food Service Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, won their consecutive Marine Corps Installations – West Chow Hall of the Quarter competition at Camp Las Flores dinning facility, Feb. 18.
"It's a lot of fun, but very stressful at the same time," said Cpl. Kevin M. Johnson, 23, Buna, Texas, food service specialist with the 14 Area chow hall, Food Service Company, CLR-17, 1st MLG.
Eight teams throughout the west coast competed in the two-day cookoff to represent their chow hall with hopes of taking home the gold.
During the first day, all eight teams battled each other in a Jeopardy-style game to determine the four best teams that would stay to compete the next day. Civilian and Marine cooks were asked a variety of culinary questions which included topics of sanitation, measurements, ingredients and baking temperatures. After the first day, teams from Marine Corp Air Stations Miramar, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center,
Bridgeport, Calif., remained.
"I love the competition because we get to be creative," said Cpl. Ian J. Sanders, 21, from Mount Pleasant, Mich., food service specialist with the 14 Area chow hall, Food Service Company, CLR-17, 1st MLG. "We're not restricted by guidelines when it comes to making the food."
On the second day of the competition, the teams were given a list of ingredients so they could decide on a menu. The four remaining teams had all morning to cook a starter course, entrée and desert that would serve 20 people. The cooks also had a display plate which they presented to the judges.
After the judges and audience finished eating, it was announced that the 14 Area chow hall who won first place and the People's Choice awards.
The 14 Area chow hall Marines won the vote with their menu of shrimp gazpacho,
spinach and cheese stuffed chicken, herb seasoned noodles, bake beans, and bananas with a tangy cream sauce.
Along with the awards, the winning Marines won a trip to participate in a six-week cooking course at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Culinary Institute of America is the world's premier culinary college featuring 41 professional kitchens and bakeshops that is instructed by certified master chefs from around the world. After returning from the trip, the Marines will bring back bragging rights and an abundance of information to their chow hall.
"The competition brings people to recognize your chow hall," said Master Gunnery Sgt. Dante P. Solis, food service technician with MCI-W. "It also allows the Marines who competed to return to their chow halls to teach and pass down their knowledge to their junior Marines."
The quarterly competition will continue bringing friendly rivals together and compete to be the best cooking team within the MCI-W.