Bringing new meaning to “Hunger Games,” Fort Bragg hosted its Culinary Arts Display and Food Show, with the theme “Catching Fire,” at the Culinary Arts Training Center, Tuesday.
An annual event, the show brings in vendors that support the military community and offers the Fort Bragg Culinary Team a venue to showcase their skills prior to competition.
Food vendors from across the country attend to showcase new products and showcase items of their choice that are already being offered at Fort Bragg Dining Facilities.
Although the event is open invitation, and anyone who wishes to may attend, dining facility managers from across the installation have a special task to complete at this event.
“We have a survey where they rate the products, give us their top four products that they want to see in the system,” said James Ramey, food program director, Subsistence Supply Management Office.
If three dining facility managers all agree on a product it gets added to the SSMO catalogue. Robert Janey, Logistics and Readiness Center, is responsible for food supply to dining facilities and Soldiers on Fort Bragg.
Janey began to plan the event in July 2017 and coordinated the participation of 26 vendors, six of which were attending the food show for the first time.
Soldiers and visitors were offered a wide choice of food products to sample and branded bags to fill with a variety of pre-packaged treats and swag.
“Anything to enhance the Soldier’s meals here, we look for nutritional items … also, what we want to do is showcase our culinarians,” said Ramey.
The culinarians in question are a team of 11 Soldier-chefs who make up Fort Bragg’s 2018 Culinary Arts Team.
The 43rd Joint Culinary Training Exercise will be held in March at Fort Lee, and is regulated by the American Culinary Federation. It is here that the team will compete with Soldier-chefs across all branches of the armed forces. The team members were selected through a series of tryouts and have been training for the last 90 days. With five to six weeks left to train, the pressure is on. Fort Bragg Soldiers have won the annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise more than any other installation.
“Since 1973, we have won nine times … and many years we weren’t even a participant in the competition,” said Col. Kyle Reed, Fort Bragg garrison commander. “It sets the bar kind of high … do your best.”
This would be Fort Bragg’s first Joint Culinary Training Exercise win since 2009.
Warrant Officer 1 José Pacheco is supporting the team in a mentoring and advisory capacity and has advised them to be confident in what they do.
“Believe that you can do it. Have self-confidence and work hard,” said Pacheco
The “Catching Fire” theme for this year’s event and the Culinary Arts Teams presentation was evident in the pulled sugar fire display and a mockingjay centerpiece made entirely from sugar. Even the menu of the presentation on the table was based on the movie, with ingredients such as quail, rabbit and fish being showcased.
“We are hoping to win of course… that’s what our theme is ‘Catching Fire’ … we want them to know that we are back,” said Sgt. 1st Class Latohya Robinson, the culinary team leader.
“I am very excited. I am nervous and I have some high expectations for the members of my team,” she said.
May the odds be ever in their favor.