13th SC(E) Soldiers Judge BBQ at Bloomin' Temple Festival

By Spc. Fabian Ortega
13th SC(E) PAO

Taste, texture and smell, not a Soldier’s forte, but that’s what 30 Soldiers of the 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) judged for at Temple’s 2nd annual Bloomin’ Temple Festival BBQ cook-off April 14.

Soldiers were invited to participate and sit in as judges for a Central Texas Barbecue Association sanctioned cook-off that featured chicken, BBQ brisket, ribs and beans.

With the Temple visitor’s center parking lot looking like one giant smoke pit and smelling of slow cooked goodness, more than 21 cooking teams lined the parking lot waiting to submit their entries for the cook-off.

Staff Sgt. John P. Collins, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th SC (E), said he was pleased to be part of and judge the cook-off.

“It feels really good that the city of Temple has invited some of the Soldiers from Fort Hood to come down and celebrate this day with them,” said Collins. “We are honored to be a part of the judging.”

On a frigid afternoon when wind chill factor dipped into the 40s, Soldiers welcomed the hot, fresh off the cooker, beans and meat that were served in 21 different varieties. 

Soldiers were asked to judge for the taste, letting their palate guide their judgement, for texture, the tenderness of the meat, presentation, visually pleasing to the eyes, and finally smell. 

After judging four categories, Soldiers consumed nearly two pounds of meat.

“This is some great food,” Collins said.

Cooking teams present at the cook-off were happy to have the Soldiers judge their barbecuing ability. 

Family Tradition, a cooking team from Troy, Tx , said they were happy to have the Soldiers there and were happy to feed Soldiers some of their favorite BBQ dish, barbecued rabbit.

It’s fun to just come and hang out with friends and meet people like [the Soldiers] right here,” said Darley Yonky, one of seven team members on team Family Tradition. 

Barbecued rabbit was not one of the entries for the cook-off, but it’s a Family Tradition specialty that Yonky said that team Family Tradition was “pleased to share with the Soldiers.”

Julie Haag, Temple Chamber of Commerce Vice President, said the invitation extended to Soldiers to judge the cook-off was the city’s way of showing their appreciation to Fort Hood.

“Soldiers are doing a service for us, but we wanted to show them how much they mean to us, by inviting them and asking them to participate in our festival,” said Haag. 

They do such a wonderful job for us, Haag said.


Staff Sgt John P Collins
Staff Sgt. John P. Collins, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary), fans the aroma of chicken toward him as he judges for smell. Collins and 30 other Soldier from 13th SC (E) judged more than 21 entries of beans, chicken, bbq brisket and ribs, judging for taste, smell, presentation and texture. Soldiers consumed a total of nearly 2 pounds of beef throughout the cook-off.