Sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) participated in the 23rd Annual Armed Forces Culinary Competition at Olympic College, May 9.
The event is part of the 67th Annual Armed Forces Festival held by the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce. The event features competition in seven different culinary categories as well as an overall winner.
The competition is open to all active duty service members serving in the greater Puget Sound area.
Nimitz produced a good turnout and had a representative in each category, including ribs, wings, chili, garnish display and a few others. They also had a two-man team competing in the battling chef cook off portion.
Throughout the competition, participants were judged on sanitation, safety, presentation, flavor and originality.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Richard Leblanc participated in both the chili and wings category and took home first place for his chili.
Machinist Mate 3rd Class Ryan Dotts competed for the dessert and earned himself a third place win.
In the battling chef portion, the two-person teams were given a list of ingredients including two surprise ingredients. This year those ingredients were duck breast and mussels. The teams then had 15 minutes to design a menu. Once the menu was decided, they have only one hour to prepare and plate their meal for the judges.
Nimitz Sailors also took an impressive second place win in the battling chef category Culinary Specialist Seaman Erik Chamberlain and Culinary Specialist Seaman Recruit Donald Gibson performed under pressure to prepare an impressive meal comprised of pan seared duck breast, sweet potatoes, glazed carrots and mussels with red pepper and tomato sauce.
The judges were comprised of prominent figures in the Bremerton Community, including Capt. John C. Ring, Nimitz’ commanding officer, Patty Lent, mayor of Bremerton, Chris Plemmen, Olympic College director of Culinary arts and Capt. Thomas Zwolfer, Naval Base Kitsap commanding officer.
The competition is a great way to let service members showcase their skills in a manner that they normally don’t.
“We don’t get to put our personal touch on the food when we are cooking for thousands of people,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Destiny Hart, who represented Nimitz in the dessert category. “Now that we are here we learn to pay attention to detail and express our personality in the presentation.”
The event encourages the service members from different commands to communicate and learn from each other. The event is open to the public and also allows the Bremerton community to get face time with service members.
“The city shares their front yard with the naval base, they were here before the city was,” said Lent. “Its important to have the civilians learn about the men and women protecting them and their community.”
This event started as a chili competition held by Naval Base Kitsap- Bangor and was then adopted by the Annual Armed Forces Festival. The event continues to grow each year.
Story and photos by MC3 Holly L. Herline