Story Number: NNS140313-26Release Date: 3/13/2014 9:08:00 PM
By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (AW/SW) Shawn D. Graham, Center for Service Support Public Affairs
FORT LEE, Va. (NNS) -- Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) visited some of the Navy's top culinary specialists (CS) competing at the 39th Annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event (MCACTE) hosted at Ft. Lee, Va. The MCACTE is being conducted March 9-14.
The MCACTE is one of largest culinary competitions in North America. Since 1973, the competition has been conducted each year with the exception of 1991 and 2003, during Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. The competition is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and showcases the talents of military chefs from around the world in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Nelle Kigembe, assigned to Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP), said the MCACTE is an excellent opportunity to showcase the culinary expertise of Navy trained chefs to top military leaders.
"It's a great opportunity for our junior Sailors to see how interested their leaders are in their professional development," said Kigembe. "We encourage every young, aspiring chef to participate in unique training events like this. Keep an eye out for the official Navy message, and apply. The selection process is tough but the training is phenomenal."
More than 300 chefs from military installations around the world are competing for top honors during the ACF sanctioned competition featuring more than 600 judged events. The competition features individual and team challenges in a variety of categories, including hot foods, cold buffets, pastries, chocolates, field cooking, practical cooking and showpieces.
"We have really talented CSs throughout the Navy who haven't heard about the MCACTE," said Kigembe. "NAVSUP encourages training opportunities like the MCACTE. They are beautiful opportunities that allow our junior Sailors to blossom into tomorrow's leaders. We want all our chefs to apply for advanced schooling to further their knowledge. There are numerous schools offered by the Navy to help you improve your cooking and management skills."
Culinary Specialist Seaman Andrea Buckhamjack, a student at Center for Service Support (CSS) Learning Site Fort Lee, Va., said it was an great opportunity to learn from the Navy's best.
"This event is very challenging," said Buckhamjack. "It's so impressive to see how these cooks and chefs take so much pride in their work. Many of the competing cooks have been perfecting their craft for years. They give me a strong example to emulate and a model for lifelong learning."
"Watching the candidates prepare restaurant quality food reinforces what our instructors teach and gives us new techniques to bring to the fleet," said Buckhamjack. "Every Navy cook should experience this event."
The Navy boasts more than 7,000 culinary specialists deployed around the world. They feed on average more than 92 million meals per year, ensuring the Navy's fighting forces operate at peak performance.
CSS and its learning sites provide Sailors with the knowledge and skills needed to support the fleet's warfighting mission. More than 300 staff and faculty work hand-in-hand with the fleet and are dedicated to ensure training is current and well executed on behalf of 10,000 Sailors who graduate from CSS courses annually in the administration, logistics and media communities.