Team Alaska Ready to Sizzle at Military Culinary Competition

United States Army Alaska - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK

It is often said “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” But for Staff Sgt. Patrick Hiebert, the team’s senior chef, the heated kitchen is exactly where he wants to be.

“I’ve been cooking for twenty years and I love my job,” said Hiebert.

For the third year, a team representing U.S. Army Alaska will be traveling to Fort Lee, VA to compete in the 41st annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event, or MCACTE. Last year, the team walked away with four silver and 18 bronze medals.

“As a team in three hours and 45 minutes, we have to create 150 plates for 50 diners, with additional plates for judges and for display,” Hiebert explained. “Each plate will include a starter, main course and dessert."

Ensuring they tie in the culture of Alaska, the team will include fresh Alaskan salmon in their meals.

Hosted by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, roughly 200 contestants from the U.S. Armed Services and several foreign countries will be participating. The team will be judged on many things, including different types of cuts, slices, originality, presentation and preparation. For Sgt. Hiebert, he’s not only hoping to earn medals for the team, but for himself as well.

“I’m competing for the Senior Chef of the Year award, and I’m definitely nervous about it,” Heibert said. “I will get a mystery basket and have a four hours to produce a four-course, five-star meal.”

The team consists of 10 Soldiers and Airmen, five student chefs and five professional chefs, all from Alaska to include Fort Wainwright.

“The competition brings esprit de corps and pride back to the food service aspect of the military,” said Sgt. 1st Class Russell Slouffman, the U.S. Army Alaska G4 Food Service noncommissioned officer. “It instills pride in their work as well as teaches the team building techniques and to have pride in the overall success of the team. Things that can bring back from the competition and add to their organization to make it better.”

Training for the competition isn’t just helping make the team better chefs.

“It teaches them attention to detail, time management, alertness, responsibility, team building, and taking pride in everything you do,” said Slouffman. “These are attributes of a great Soldier and leader in today's military.”

Team Alaska wants nothing more than to win, but Hiebert and his teammates want to display other attributes as well.

“I’m very hyper and animated, and I hope the passion we have shines through.”

The MCACTE awards ceremony is scheduled for March 11, 10.a.m. at the Lee Theater.

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