[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                   March 25, 2011
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Installation competition selects top chef

Story & photos by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Hawaiian-marinated ribs, mushroom-stuffed chicken breast, pork loin stuffed with cranberries and walnuts, and stuffed manicotti were among the temptations prepared for a special event at Fort McCoy’s Dining Facility 1826.

PHOTO: Tiffany Steele dices celery as part of her preparation in the Top Chef Competition at Fort McCoy. Photo by Tom Michele
Tiffany Steele dices celery as part of her preparation in the Top Chef Competition at Fort McCoy. Steele is on the Dining Facility 2674 staff.

The tasty treats were part of the main courses prepared by six chefs vying for honors at the Top Chef Competition hosted by Superior Services, the Fort McCoy installation dining facilities food services contractor.

Competition director John Parkyn, senior culinary trainer for Superior, said the event, the first of what is intended to be an annual occurrence, had three purposes. “The first is to continually raise the standards of culinary excellence and professionalism at Fort McCoy.”

The second is to nurture the creativity of individual chefs, and the third is to showcase individual skills, techniques and styles, Parkyn said.

Chefs prepared six servings, three for the judges, one for display, and one as a back-up. A separate dessert competition also was part of the day’s event.

Participating chefs were: Amy Isbell, who is at the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center; Jodi Richardson at Regional Training Center-Central; Pete Fisk at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy; and Tiffany Steele, Will King and Jeff Thayer at Dining Facility 2674, which serves the 181st Infantry Brigade’s mobilization and demobilization program.

Fifteen competitors brought in their dessert-pastry entries.

Judges were Charles George, the operator at Schmidty’s Bar and Restaurant in La Crosse; Nancy Mills, a retired instructor from Western Technical College; and Mike Posey, former project manager for Superior at McCoy and a retired warrant officer.

PHOTO: Pete Fisk stirs grated Parmesan cheese into the mashed potatoes he prepared as part of the Top Chef Competition at Fort McCoy. Photo by Tom Michele
Pete Fisk stirs grated Parmesan cheese into the mashed potatoes he prepared as part of the Top Chef Competition at Fort McCoy. Fisk is on the NCO Academy dining facility staff.

Isbell was selected the top chef and gold-medal winner.

The event allowed contestants to take what they learned from each other back to their own dining facilities and share the knowledge, Parkyn said.

“We are already looking at adding some of the recipes to the master menu,” he said. “We take pride in serving our Soldiers at Fort McCoy and I believe that the Top Chef competition demonstrated that.”

“Hosting competitions inspires employees to better themselves professionally and that is very important to Superior Services,” he said. “It shows we stick to our corporate motto, ‘Our Name is our Commitment.’ It also brings area talent on the base to give the competitors new insight on what is happening in our industry now and how that can only improve service at Fort McCoy.”

Parkyn said he was extremely impressed with the way the event progressed. “I’m excited to see what’s in store for next year as it really shows the talent we have here at Fort McCoy.”

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