Servicemembers assigned to the 435th Services Squadron participated in the second stage of the Top Chef Competition at the Lindberg Hof Dining Facility on Kapaun Air Station June 17.
The initial in-house qualifying round for the competition, open to any member (E-5 and below) from the 435th SVS with cooking experience, took place June 9 and narrowed the number of contestants from five to the top two.
Senior Airmen Gary Adamoyurka and Sheryl Stewart went head-to-head in the kitchen vying for the opportunity to compete in the U.S. Air Forces in Europe level of the competition scheduled July 30 to 31 at the Lindberg Hof DFAC.
“The contestants, working alongside a sous chef of their choosing, had 90 minutes to cook and plate their dishes,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer Ellis, 435th SVS Jawbone Flight Kitchen manager and one of the lead organizers of the event.
Each chef was required to cook a main entree using the theme ingredient of beef, which was announced the day of the competition, and a side dish for each of the three judges.
“The chefs had the opportunity to choose from three separate cuts of beef. They both selected the chuck shoulder,” Sergeant Ellis said. “They were also able to incorporate any ingredients found on Air Force recipe cards in their dishes.”
Throughout the cooking phase of the competition, Sergeant Ellis, as well as fellow event coordinators Tech. Sgt. Reggie Stovall, 435th SVS Jawbone Flight Kitchen assistant manager, and Tech. Sgt. Kesha Singletary, 435th SVS Lindberg Hof store room non-commissioned officer in charge, monitored the progress, kitchen etiquette and work ethic of the competing chefs.
“While they cooked, we were taking note of how the chefs work amongst one another, as well as how they communicated with their sous chefs,” Sergeant Ellis said. “We were making sure they maintained their professionalism throughout all phases of the competition.”
The cooking teams were observed and graded on every aspect of their performance, not only in the kitchen, but also the manner in which they presented themselves and their food to the judges.
The judges for the competition were Col. Gus Green, 435th Air Base Wing vice commander, Col. Dawn Lancaster, 435th SVS commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Paul Clark, 435th Mission Support Squadron chief enlisted manager.
Airman Adamoyurka, who presented a beef merlot over homemade spätzle, a type of German noodle, received praise for his creativity. However, it was Airman Stewart’s specially seasoned grilled steak topped with a red wine sauce over sauteed vegetables that won the most favor with the judges.
Both were fabulous dishes but the judges were unanimous in their decision of Airman Stewart as the overall winner, Colonel Green said.
“Airman Stewart, the sauce caught your tongue and it just had that wow factor from the beginning,” Colonel Lancaster said.
After Airman Stewart was announced as the winner, Colonel Green praised her dish.
“I loved your sauce. I want your sauce. I’m going to have to find out the recipe,” he said.
Airman Stewart, a native of New Orleans, La., and a graduate of the Institute of Technology for Culinary Arts in California, is scheduled to represent Ramstein’s 435th SVS at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Top Chef Competition in July. There, she will use her culinary expertise to battle seven other contestants for the title of USAFE Top Chef.
After the competition, Master Sgt. Tony Flowers, USAFE command food service superintendent, announced that Airman Adamoyurka, as the runner-up, would also have the opportunity to participate in the USAFE Top Chef Competition as a representative for Kapaun Air Station.