DVIDS – News – U.S. Marines Compete for Catering Specialist of the Quarter

CAMP KINSER, Okinawa, Japan – Sixteen Okinawa mess hall foodservice specialist Marines came to compete in the Quarterly Foodservice Specialist competition at Camp Kinser Mess Hall on June 16.

The two-day competition began with a written and oral exam where Marines are judged on their military appearance, knowledge and attitude. The second part of the event focused on the culinary, health and nutritional skills of Marines under the watchful eye of quality assurance assessors.

“The competition is designed to be stressful and bring out the best in each Marine and test them on all the doctrine they have learned during their career,” said Gunnery Sgt. Patrick Harth, Base Food Service Facilities Manager, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “The Marines worked in teams of two, and 10 of the 16 Marines could not pass the first part of the competition, so only three teams qualified for the next day. On the second day, the remaining Marines worked non-stop from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to prepare their meals and display them for the judges.

Harth, a native of Clifton Forge, Va., Explained that although contestants stand in front of the judges, they are evaluated on their tact and demeanor. He said their evaluation doesn’t end until the competition is officially over.

After hours of preparation in a stressful environment, the three remaining teams each presented their screens and a sample meal to a panel of five judges, made up of leaders from Marine Corps Installations Pacific. After compiling the scores with input from the judges and quality assurance assessors, the winners were chosen.

“It was my first time competing and I was so excited that my teammate and I finished first,” said Sgt. Morelia Capuchino-Diaz, Catering Specialist at 3d Marine Division. “This competition was unlike anything I’ve experienced, but we communicated the whole time and got the job done.”

Capuchino-Diaz, a native of Goshen, Indiana, and his teammate, Lance Cpl. Marina Esquibel, a native of San Antonio, Texas, and a food service specialist with 3d Marine Division, has prepared a colorful display in honor of Pride Month. The food they prepared consisted of seasoned steak, seasoned cauliflower mash, and cookie dough and brownie dessert.

“The hardest part of the competition was keeping up with everything at the same time,” said Capuchino-Diaz. “Since we had multiple dishes to prepare, we had to keep track of what was cooking at all times to make sure it was not overcooking, while maintaining our military attire and high hygiene standards.”

The competition ended with a small awards ceremony in which each team received medals and prizes from Colonel Douglas Burke, commander of Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3d Marine Logistics Group. Each team received constructive comments and compliments from the judges.

“If you are a catering specialist hoping to enter this competition, my best advice is to stick to the basics and master them,” Harth said. “In the French language, there is a saying called ‘mise en place’ which translates to ‘tout in its place’. This applies to the culinary arts as well as this competition. Stick to the basics and you will be successful.

Date taken: 16.06.2021
Date posted: 06/17.2021 02:43
Story ID: 399128

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