180th Trans. Culinary Competition

Story and Photos by Spc. Fabian Ortega

The 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) held its first ever culinary competition at the Operation Iraqi Freedom dining facility here, Sept. 12.

The culinary competition featured cakes and other desserts, made by food service specialists, which were judged on presentation, appearance, creativity and overall taste.

“I baked a two layer cake with a Twin Tower design,” said Spc. Juan E. Hago, a food service specialist with the 297th Transportation Company. “I made it in tribute to 9/11,” Hago said.

The competitors from the competition were the 96th Transportation Company and the 297 of the 180th. In all, nine food service specialists competed for a chance to win trophies to display in their respective company unit cases.

“The purpose of the competition is to train food service specialists in their primary (military occupation specialty) and strive for excellence,” said Lt. Col. Mark A. Paget, commander of the 180th “Everything we do in the 180th is geared toward excellence and we want our food service specialists to make excellent desserts,” said Paget.

With a total of ten cakes and a chocolate dessert, judges consisting of senior food service specialists, family readiness group leaders and the 180th commander, scored the entries.

All entries were placed in three categories: overall taste, overall presentation (edible) and overall presentation (display).

Some of the cakes on display were simple bunt cakes; others were elaborate cakes disguised as lady bugs, 3 layer wedding cakes and cakes made in tribute to 9/11.

The entry most judges were impressed by was a Mexican dessert made by Sgt. Juan Rojas, a food service specialist.

Judges awarded the overall taste category to Rojas and his entry of rice with milk in a chocolate cup.

“It’s a Spanish dish called arros con leche,” said Rojas. “It’s a dish my grandmother used to make,” said the lone winner from the 297th

Rojas made his grandmothers dish into his own, fusing the Mexican delicacy with a mix of shredded cheese and coconut flakes, which he said makes it different.

Of the three categories, many of the food service specialists in the competition preferred to win the overall taste category, said Hago.

The 96th took the other two categories with the winning entries being a 3 layer wedding cake and a single layer cake covered in fondant with decorative flowers.

Paget saw this competition as an opportunity to build unit cohesion, he said.

“It’s something new, it’s outside the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal or Christmas meal,” Paget said. “It’s for the company trophy case and it’s to build esprit de corps and pride in the unit,” he said. “We have trophies for football, we have trophies for softball and we want companies to have trophies for food service excellence in their company trophy case for morale.”

The 180th also designated the month of Sept. the battalion’s sports month. Sports month will feature one sport every Thursday during the month of Sept. as eight companies from the 180th will compete in tournaments featuring softball and basketball. Sports month will culminate with an Army Physical Fitness Test Sept. 27.

 

Sgt Juan Rojas and Lt Col Mark A Paget
Sgt. Juan Rojas (left), a food service specialist with the 297th Transportation Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command is handed a trophy by commander of the 180th Trans. Batt., Lt. Col. Mark A. Paget, won the overall taste category at the 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) culinary competition at the Operation Iraqi Freedom dining facility here, Sept. 12.

overall presentation category winner
A pink three layered wedding cake won the overall presentation (display) category at the 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) culinary competition at the Operation Iraqi Freedom dining facility here, Sept. 12.