Teams vie for title of Iron Chef
Tech. Sgt. April Dunham-Rhett, plates her dish during the Iron Chef competition at the Dining Facility, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 31, 2011. Dunham-Rhett was teamed with Chief Master Sgt. Lefford Fate, 20th Fighter Wing command chief. The duo made macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, cooked red cabbage and peach cobber. Dunham-Rhett is the 20th Fighter Wing NCOIC of Equal Opportunity. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexandria Mosness) (Released)
by Senior Airman Alexandria Mosness
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
8/31/2011 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Four teams battled it out during the Iron Chef competition at the Dining Facility here Aug. 31, but only one team could come out as the victor.
That honor went to Spc. Debra Looney and Spc. Kurt O'Connor, both Third Army food specialists.
But, it was not an easy task to win the coveted spatula plaque. Three other teams competed in the competition.
The 20th Fighter Wing had two teams. One consisted of Chief Master Sgt. Lefford Fate, 20th Fighter Wing command chief, and Tech. Sgt. April Dunham-Rhett, 20th Fighter Wing NCOIC of Equal Opportunity. The other 20th Fighter Wing team was members from the Health and Wellness Center, Janine Reinholtz, registered dietitian, and Tech. Sgt. Suzy Bright, diet technician. The final team was from the 20th Force Support Squadron, Senior Airman Brandon Williams, lodging front desk clerk, and Senior Airman John Grant, food service specialist.
The teams were tasked with the challenge to produce one entrée and one appetizer using what was provided in the kitchen and the surprise ingredient of red cabbage. The products were judged on the categories of taste, presentation, creativity and incorporation of the special ingredient.
The contestants had to pay special attention to the clock because they only had 90 minutes to complete their dishes. The Third Army team said they were just going with the flow.
"I love to cook, so we are just winging it," Looney said.
While some teams just winged it, others had a game plan that was ruined when the special ingredient was revealed.
"I was really thinking it was going to be okra, so I have been preparing for that," said Reinholtz, one member of the HAWC's team. "For now, we are just going with it, and I am just lucky that I grew up in a house that likes cabbage."
The 20th FSS sponsored the quarterly event and hoped it would bring good spirit.
"It boosts up the morale," said Staff Sgt. Shawanda Summers, 20th FSS food services shift leader. "It also shows that we know a different way to cook than just what everyone sees in the chow hall."
Summers said the event was a great turnout and one the 20th FSS will strive to continue.
It was hectic in the kitchen as teams raced to get their dishes cooked and plated in time for the judging process.
As the 90 minutes rounded out, the team of Fate and Dunham-Rhett scrambled to get the last of their dish plated.
The seconds clicked off the timer, and the team was able to scoop the last of their peach cobbler into the dish.
The timer expired and a round of applause could be heard throughout the kitchen.
Now, the judging could begin.
The judges for the competition were the 20th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Charlie Moore, 20th Mission Support Group Commander Col. Walter Fulda, 20th FSS Commander Lt. Col. Dalian Washington, and Third Army Company Commander Maj. Regina Charles.
Some of the teams told all their tricks of the trade, but Fate and Dunham-Rhett had their lips sealed. "There is a little something-something in there," Fate said. "But, if I told you my Mama would be mad."
With both team members from Georgia, Fate said they wanted to give a meal that reminded everyone of home.
"Our Airmen are always downrange, so we wanted to give a good home cooked meal," he exclaimed.
The southern cooking got the approval of the 20th FW commander. I am a southern boy, so fried chicken and macaroni and cheese is fine with me, Moore said, in regards to Fate and Dunham-Rhett's dish.
But, the comfort food was not enough to win the title, as Third Army pulled ahead to claim the prize of Iron Chef champion.
The Third Army team cooked meatballs, while also incorporating the cabbage in the red cabbage slaw with shrimp and bacon.
"We took that route because when we went to get the meats, the only thing that was left was ground beef and shrimp, so we went with it," Looney said.
We are representing for Third Army and are prepared to defend our title at the next competition, said Looney.