Military and civilian chefs put their healthy cooking skills on display at the Defense Logistics Agency’s Top Chef Competition May 21 at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.
The contest was hosted on the patio outside of the HQC cafeteria by the Healthy Base Initiative team and DLA Installation Support. The event served as the culminating event for the one-year demonstration phase of the HBI program and showcased a variety of healthy cooking options at home.
“Today was a healthy cooking demonstration using two different sources for ingredients,” said Chef Michael Levins, a judge for the competition. “Contestants were given a mystery basket of ingredients and were able to utilize DLA’s farmers market.”
The event’s project leader, Gloria Edwards from DLA Logistic Operations, said that the idea came while visiting another agency.
“We went to a cook off and thought we could bring the same thing here,” Edwards said. “This is something that we’ve been planning for a while.”
All contestants were required to make one appetizer and one entrée for the judges, who used several factors to judge the dishes.
“I look for the utilization of ingredients,” Levins said. “Then I look at the cooking technique, creativity, and how they chose to use their ingredients throughout the meal.”
Levins said competitions like this are great for raising people’s awareness about healthy eating choices.
“If you make food right and use fresh ingredients, it’s healthy by nature,” he said. “It’s when we start to use processed and frozen foods with lots of extra salt and fat that we start to make things unhealthy.”
Kurt Searfoss, a supply chain integration leader for DLA Logistics Operations, said he was surprised how good some of dishes tasted.
“There was some chicken dipped in a sauce made by the DLA director’s personal chef that I thought was fantastic,” Searfoss said. “It was really amazing.”
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Susienka, a culinary specialist and the enlisted aide to the deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategies, impressed the judges the most and took home an award presented by DLA Chief of Staff Renee Roman. His dishes beat out entries from Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Anderson, a culinary specialist at Naval Air Station Patuxent River Maryland; Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Darrell Harvey, executive chef for the DLA director; and Elliot Satin, the manager/executive chef at the new Social Security Administration building in Baltimore.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Susienka, winner of Defense Logistics Agency’s Top Chef Competition, prepares his appetizer for judges May 21 outside the HQC cafeteria. Photo by Teodora Mocanu