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Cooks prepare to battle for top honors, prizes at JBLM culinary competition

Northwest Guardian

Published: 04:52PM May 22nd, 2014

Foodies take note: a show just for you is coming to Joint Base Lewis-McChord on June 4.

Air Force Captain Amanda Turcotte said the show at American Lake Conference Center is paired with a JBLM culinary competition attendees can watch live in the center’s parking lot or from the comfort of the Evergreen Ballroom.

Turcotte, 627th Force Support Squadron, said the competition almost didn’t happen.

“We just had an idea,” she said. “We didn’t have a logistical way to sponsor this event until (the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation) came in and secured a food show.”

Turcotte said the cooking contest takes some of its flavor from the annual Military Culinary Arts Competition, where all-military teams compete on Mobile Kitchen Trailers with Modern Burner Units to craft appetizers, entrees and desserts. JBLM’s team won several medals at the contest, and some of those winners are in the contest at ALCC.

Those winners include silver medalist Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Yarbrough.

The similarities end there:

• Each of the four teams has two people, compared to the 12-person teams at the military competition at Fort Lee, Va.

• Two teams are civilians paired with Soldiers; the other two are Soldiers paired with Airmen.

• Each team has a member who is not in food service.

• Teams already know what they’re making, as they submitted a menu beforehand, Turcotte said.

• However, each team gets a mystery basket of five ingredients (provided by the show’s vendors) that they must use in the appetizer, entree and dessert portions of the contest. ALCC provides the rest of the supplies.

• All three plates must be served at 12:45 p.m. that day, with cooking starting at 10 a.m.

• Lastly, the judges are base leadership, who will use pre-determined criteria.

The overall winning team gets a one-night stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, and Turcotte said there are other prizes for individual category winners.

Turcotte said the competition will be projected live in the Evergreen Ballroom, with an emcee narrating the action for those just wanting to listen as they check out the show’s vendors.

One of the vendors is Barilla Pasta, who will have a live action station showcasing cooking tips alongside their products.

The other vendors will have food sampling, products and other services for attendees to explore and taste.