The Coast Guard Student Chef Team Wins Best in Show!
With funding provided through the Coast Guard Foundation the United States Coast Guard Culinary Team competed in the 43nd Annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) at Fort Lee, Virginia.
The JCTE is the largest competition of its kind in North America, attracting more than 200 participants representing all of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as those from other countries. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) partnerships with DoD to improve military food service programs. The increased focus on military cuisine began in 1973 with the first Army culinary arts event that did not feature hot food. A few years later, an Army culinary arts team was added, and the competitive event gradually grew over the years, undergoing several name changes to reflect that growth.
The ACF sanctions the competition and gives latitude to the event itself. In addition, the medals competitors earn can be credited toward ACF certification which equates to civilian skills all over the world.
There was an event held daily for the 26 teams of military chefs from around the world and each day the Coast Guard team placed near the top.
Day 1: Set up, unload and orientation.
Day 2: Chef CS1 Scott Jeffries competed in a four course mystery basket event again 16 of the best chefs in the military for the coveted title of 2018 Senior Chef of the Year. He placed 2nd overall with an ACF Silver Medal.
Day 3: The Coast Guard Team spent over 24 hours straight putting out a display table. They scored a silver for the overall table with individual awards going to CS1 Judah Clark with gold for the center piece, CS1 Jason Rohrs with a gold for his Seafood Platter and a silver in his 5 Course Gastronomy/4 Course Octo Ovo plated meals, CS2 Ben Stockman received a silver for his 6 Appetizers Plates and 4 Finger Foods platters and CS1 Scott Jeffries took an ACF Silver Medal for his 6 Plated Dessert and 5 Chocolate Platters.
Day 4: A two man Chef team consisting of CS1 Jason Rohrs and CS1 Judah Clark competed in a nutritional challenge taking the Silver Medal.
Day 5: On Saturday the Coast Guard Chefs maned the Army Mobile Kitchen Trailer event producing a three course meal for 50 using field equipment powered by jet fuel. The team included CSCS James Swenson, CS1 Jason Rohrs, CS1 Scott Jeffries, CS1 Judah Clark and CS2 Ben Stockman who took gold beating the other military services on their own equipment.
Day 6: On Monday Coast Guard Chef CS2 Ben Stockman took ACF Gold in the Signature Dish competition. He had one hour to serve ACF Judges four plates of his special “Pan Seared Trout Almondine”
Day 7/8: It was the students turn to compete. Before the event, Chef CS1 Scott Jeffries trained the Coast Guard Student Chef Team in Yorktown for the Coast Guard student team competition and Student Chef of the Year. When asked how the training of these Coast Guard chefs with less than 2 Years of culinary experience was going he said:
"In 2012 I competed in the student skills competition and I vividly remember telling my team mates how great it would have been if we all were able to train together prior to the competition. At that time it just wasn't possible due to us all being stationed spread out across the country. Now that we have the Culinary Support Activity in Yorktown, we have several young, highly skilled, culinarians all in one place who were just jumping at the opportunity to compete on the national level in our nation's largest military culinary competition. This allowed for me to spend 6 consecutive days training them on all the skills they will be tested on come the day of their competition. We accomplished so much in that time. Seeing their progression from day 1 to day 6 was very impressive. Now they will take this new knowledge and continue to train up until the day of the competition. If they keep it up, I see gold in their future."
During this relay-style event called Student Skills, Coast Guard Student Team members demonstrated their prowess in classical cuts, filleting a fish, "fabricating" a chicken and preparing pastry cream and dough. It's was blind draw, so the team members did not know beforehand which skill they would perform.
The second phase was more predictable, as student chefs were responsible for cooking and plating their own dishes, which they had designed and practiced multiple times.
With staggered starting times, each of 16 teams of four military cooks competed against the clock to prepare a four-course meal for four.
Each had had 90 minutes to prepare, plate and serve an appetizer, a salad, an entree and a dessert. The "diners" included judges from the American Culinary Federation (ACF), who ranked each teams' offerings on timeliness, taste and presentation. Pacing back and forth from kitchen to kitchen were roving judges who took note of how individual cooks used their knives, chopped their vegetables, and maintained food safety.
The event was grueling, with team members mopping sweat from their foreheads, shouting out orders, bumping into each other, occasionally jumping back from flame-ups on the stove top and always checking the clock.
All the while, teams worked to turn out pastries, salads, and dishes with names like "Paupiettes de Sole a la Trouvillaise" and "Poulet Sautf Bercy" -- all recipes pulled from the classic French guide to cooking "Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire."
The next day CS3 Liz Mattox won silver in Junior Chef of the year and one days later, after the competition was complete, 26 teams and over 300 chefs from around the world waited for the results at the awards ceremony “and the Student Skills Team winner is… Team Coast Guard!”
With this win the Coast Guard Student Team has been named the Military Regional title holder and will competed against all of the Civilian Regional Student Teams across the Nation in the American Culinary Federation Annual Conference held this July in New Orleans. Over the next few months they will be provided training by ACF culinary Judges and many others highly recognized civilian and military chefs to ensure a victory for the military in this year’s competition.
Coast Guard Student Skills Team Member CS3 Ward Brown had this to say about the event:
“I don’t know where to begin to describe how I’m feeling right now. Excited and shocked sums it up well enough I guess. Today I was part of a five person student team to compete on behalf of the United States Coast Guard in the student skills category. I would like to say to my teammates CS3 Liz Mattox, CS3 Christopher Powell, CS3 Kellie Lundy and CS3 Jeff Plotz great job this past week and start gearing up for that ACF National Championship because we’re not done yet!!! Oh yeah my team and I won best in show in our category and have been awarded scholarships to Stratford University as well as a chance to compete at the National level this July in New Orleans!!!! I’d like to also thank everyone that helped make this possible, notably the USCG primary team members Senior Chief James E. Swenson, CS1 Scott Jeffries, CS1 Jason Rohrs, CS1 Judah Clark and CS2 Ben Stockman who also received multiple gold and silver medals and helped us all to be the runner up for the entire JCTE this year. You guys were amazing and your vast competition knowledge and culinary skill gave us inspiration and insight to tap into our own abilities and ultimately go forward and compete the way we did. I can’t forget our team manager Master Chief Justin Reed, the top CS in the Coast Guard and our guiding hand through this entire process. Your vast store of knowledge and expertise helped us every step of the way and your passion for excellence has definitely lit a fire in all of us to succeed in the future. I can’t say enough about the support we’ve received from our command at Portsmouth/Yorktown Senior Simolon and Chief Wildman, Mr. Adams at USCG Culinary Program and countless others who helped along the way. To Haley Brown who lost us almost completely over the last week and a half I say thank you. It wasn’t easy to leave you and we all knew it wasn’t going to be easy for you at home either but somehow we all made it, through hard work and dedication we’ve grown as people, military members and chefs. We did all of this with only weeks of preparation imagine what we’re going to be do with a year. Next year we will be returning to compete and we will be the first non-Army team to win the title of Military Installation of the year!”
2018 US Coast Guard Culinary Team Members: Team Manager - Master Chief Justin Reed Team Captain - Senior Chief James Swenson Head Chef - CS1 Jason Rohrs Team Advisors: CSC Edward Fuchs (Overall) CS1 Mathew Shaw (Pastry)
CS1 Justin Pearl (Purchasing)
Professional Chef Team: Student Team Lead/Pastry Chef - CS1 Scott Jeffries Cold Buffet/Kitchen Chef - CS2 Ben Stockman Logistics/Center Piece Chef CS1 Judah Clark Student Chef Team: CS3 Jeff Plotz (Team Lead) CS3 Kelly Lundy CS3 Ward Brown CS3 Christopher Powell CS3 Liz Maddox (Junior Chef of the Year Competitor)
Event Awards: 8 ACF Gold Medals , 12 ACF Silver Medals, 0 Bronze, Best in Show for Student Skills Team and 1st Runner up for Military Culinary Team of the Year. ACF Silver Medal - Senior Chef of the Year CS1 Scott Jeffries (2nd place overall) ACF Gold Medal - Center Piece CS1 Judah Clark
ACF Gold Medal - Buffet Platter: CS1 Jason Rohrs
ACF Silver Medal - 6 Appetizers Plates/Finger Foods: CS2 Ben Stockman
ACF Silver Medal - 5 Course Gastronomy/4 Course Octo Ovo: CS1 Jason Rohrs
ACF Silver Medal - Deserts: CS1 Scott Jeffries
2 ACF Silver Medals - Nutritional Challenge: CS1 Jason Rohrs CS1 Judah Clark
5 ACF Gold Medals - Field Kitchen Three Course For 50: CSCS James Swenson CS1 Jason Rohrs CS1 Scott Jeffries CS1 Judah Clark CS2 Ben Stockman
1 ACF Gold Medal - Signature Dish CS2 Ben Stockman
5 ACF Silver Medals - Student Skills CS3 Jeff Plotz (Team Lead) CS3 Kelly Lundy CS3 Ward Brown CS3 Christopher Powell CS3 Liz Maddox
1 ACF Silver Medal - Junior Chef of the Year CS3 Liz Maddox