Enlisted Aides Show Skills, Knowledge in Culinary Competition Event

U.S. Garrison Fort Lee Public Affairs - Fort Lee, VA

Over the last two days of the Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event, Army enlisted aides compete to be the best in their extremely small career field. This year, seven culinarians went head-to-head in four events to vie for the Army’s best enlisted aide title. The honor went to Staff Sgt. Silvestre Arroyo, enlisted aide to Maj. Gen. Joseph Harrington, commanding general, U.S. Army Africa. Arroyo will compete later this year at the Department of Defense level against the other service branches top aides. Sgt. 1st Class Russell E. Sauers II, instructor for the Enlisted Aide Training Course at the Joint Culinary Training Center and coordinator for the event at the 42nd MCACTE, said there was a strong showing from the enlisted aide field, and he is pleased there was such a high turnout. “I think we will get a lot of good feedback from this event,” said Sauers. “They found the first day pretty challenging, and many were nervous going into the board after not competing at one in a while. I think they all enjoyed it – at least after the fact. Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, Quartermaster Corps CSM, gave them some encouraging words and thanked them for what they do. “They were excited to get to the live cooking event,” he continued, “as this is more of the bread and butter of the career field.” The event included four parts: a 100-question exam with 50 questions geared toward enlisted aide duties and responsibilities and the rest pertaining to advanced culinary techniques; a live uniform assembly demonstration where they assembled a general officer’s Army Service Uniform jacket; a leadership board presided by the QM Corps regimental CSM; and a live hot food challenge where they had to prepare a three-course meal. “What always stands out in our field is professionalism,” said Sauers. “We are the face for that general behind the lines, so to speak. We help them entertain at their quarters and work on their uniform. During the board, for example, even if the competitor got tripped up on a question, they were very professional about it. That’s what you see in our community across the board.” Staff Sgt. John Smart, enlisted aide to Gen. Robert B. Abrams, commanding general, Forces Command, said it was his first time competing in any cooking event. He found it challenging, but he enjoyed the opportunity to cook the elaborate meal. “I cook this way for my general maybe once every month or two,” he said. “I cook for him every day, but he’s usually on a time crunch. He usually enjoys soup and sandwich combos for lunch every day.” The competition was an eye-opener for Smart, he said, and he learned more about being a better enlisted aide. “I learned more about time management,” he said. “I wanted to show off my skills, put myself to the test and gauge myself against other enlisted aides. Time management is something I learned about by coming to the event.” Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Mullins, enlisted aide to Lt. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, deputy commanding general, FORSCOM, said he’s competed in several military culinary events, although this was his first in the enlisted aide category. He said he enjoyed the scope of the event. “I think I did the best at the uniform, boards and exam,” he said. “While I did well with cooking, I cook all the time. I’m a certified executive chef with the American Culinary Federation. It’s easy for me. For the other three categories, I feel like those areas were more important to show my skills as a Soldier and enlisted aide.”

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