Military Chefs Compete in BBQ Battle

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2014 - A senior Pentagon official often requests grilled cheese with mustard and pickles, but these chefs will never divulge the individual's identity.

A long time supporter of veterans, the U.S. Department of Agriculture honored D-Day veterans and all service members today at the 19th annual USDA Farmers Market Opening. On hand were the military's top chefs, who keep the secrets of the senior leaders for whom they cook.


Chef Monique V. Sorrell, an Army staff sergeant, left with top honors and bragging rights with her inventive dish, a spiced cocoa encrusted flank steak with grilled asparagus herbed couscous and blood orange citrus salad.

"I didn't think I did well so I'm very honored that my flavors came across the way I wanted them to," Sorrell, a chef for the Secretary of Defense said. "My fiancé is a chef too so we came up with the menu together."

The event's emcee was Toby Knapp, a local disc jockey who described his interest in the event.

"I'm from Texas so we don't miss an opportunity for barbecue," Knopp said. "But in all seriousness, to be here especially on a day like today, honoring people who would lay their lives on the line for our freedom, there is no greater honor."

Competition judge Eric Ziebold, executive chef for the Washington D. C. restaurant CityZen, said he was also pleased with the culinary caliber.

"To come in and be able to see what they're doing and the spirit behind that is great," Ziebold said. "I have an unbending standard but I certainly recognize that they probably cook for a couple more people than I do on any given day, so I'm anxious to see what they produce."

Friendly banter ran the gamut and ribbing included lines such as the "the only good Marine is a submarine," from Chef George Drew Arters, a Navy petty officer who whipped up a peppered round steak with feta butter, raspberry sauce and honey nut swiss chard.

Meanwhile Chef Tasha Nicole Goodrich, an Air Force staff sergeant, shared in simple terms why she got involved in the competition.

"I love food," she said. "We have a lot of opportunities to do volunteer work so we like to take competitive challenges and we're always challenging each other ... and winning today is really just for bragging rights."

As the chefs feverishly prepared their dishes within the one-hour time limit, Chef Joseph Hale, a Marine Corps sergeant, described his method candidly. "It's just another day at work for me; this is what I do every day."