A Soldier from 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, 108th ADA Brigade received two bronze medals May 18 for her participation in the 37th Annual Culinary Arts Competition.

Spc. Ida Patterson, food service specialist assigned to the battalion’s Headquarters Battery, was encouraged by the Spartan Dining Facility staff to try out for the Fort Bragg Culinary Arts Team.

“Patterson was selected to try out for the team over her peers because of her tireless work ethic, elevated skill level and attention to detail,” said Sgt. 1st Class Edward Anderson, DFAC platoon sergeant. “She was the only competitor to pass all of the hands-on exams during the culinary team tryouts,” said Anderson.

The culinary arts team won 17 bronze medals during the competition, two of which were won by Patterson. She won the medals in the areas of field garrison and junior skills.

The competition was held Feb. 25 through March 9 in the Post Field House at Fort Lee, Va. The field garrison contest was timed for one hour and consisted of cooking a four course meal in a containerized kitchen. Her team prepared rabbit, rabbit sausage, spoon bread with rice beget, and lump crab meat. Patterson prepared a banana bread pudding dessert with butter pecan ice cream for the junior skills competition.

The team had to work long hours to ensure they made the most of their time. “I’m happy that we received so many awards despite our short preparation time. It really goes to show that hard work during long hours does pay off,” said Patterson.

The team had to compete against eleven installations throughout the United States in hopes of winning the Installation of the Year award. This event is the largest culinary competition in North America, where all branches of the military compete.

Patterson admitted that she did not initially have a passion for cooking before entering the Army. After two years of military service, Patterson is more enthusiastic than ever to serve as a food service specialist.

“When I started working in the DFAC, I saw that I was actually good at cooking and that motivated me to expand on things that I wouldn’t normally cook. I can cook a variety of things now and I am not afraid to try to prepare new dishes,” said Patterson.

“Specialist Patterson works in all areas of food service operations to include main line, short order, salads and baking. She takes pride in all her assigned tasks and will always go the extra mile to put out a quality product that is not only wholesome, but also eye appealing and nutritious,” said Anderson.

This experience had a tremendous impact on Patterson and left a positive and lasting impression on her. She feels strongly about encouraging other Soldiers to get involved in the competition.

“Now that I know what to expect from this competition, I can better prepare for next year. This will help me to do better next time,” said Patterson.

“If any Soldier gets the chance to do this, they should definitely take the opportunity in order to gain more experience,” Patterson added. “It’s not easy, you must be dedicated and willing to learn, but it’s worth it in the end.