Spc. Yaw Kuffour, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Sgt. Jason Amodor, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, were the Soldier and noncommissioned officer winners of the III Corps Culinarian of the Year competition Oct. 24.
The competition lasted three days and consisted of three different challenges that not only tested the competitor’s culinary abilities, but their physical and mental capabilities as well.
On day one, the competitors prepared a salad, main course and dessert, in under three hours, using ingredients from a mystery basket. The food portion of the competition was worth 35% of their overall score. The second day consisted of the Army Physical Fitness Test which was worth 15% of their overall score. During the third and most challenging day, competitors faced the board and were asked questions to test their knowledge. The board portion of the challenge was worth 50% of their final score.
Kuffour was humble and thankful that he came out of the competition victorious.
“I wasn’t expecting it, so I’m very happy,” Kuffour said. “I give thanks to God and I give thanks to the NCO’s who had faith in me.”
Amodor was also surprised when he won and admitted he found the board portion of the competition to be most challenging.
“The board is my weakest link, but I overcame,” Amodor said. “My sergeant provided a lot of motivation and morale, late night phone calls to answer my questions.”
Kuffour also found the board to be most challenging because he didn’t know what to expect.
“The most difficult part was the board because you don’t know what kind of questions they’ll ask you,” Kuffour said. “It wasn’t easy, but with God on my side, I was able to do well.”
Sgt. Maj. Carey Williams, 1st Cav. Div. Chief Culinary Management sergeant major, Master Sgt. Guillermina Strohmeier, 1st Cav. Sustainment Brigade, and Sgt. 1st Class Rogelio Carrizales, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, were excited to see the Soldiers challenge their creative and critical thinking and gain more knowledge throughout the competition.
“As senior leaders, senior enlisted food service leaders, this is great to see these competitors just compete to be the best, even if everybody can’t win,” Williams said. “At the end of the day there is a wealth of knowledge and experience that has happened that each person will leave here better than they came.”
Strohmeier was happy to see the Soldiers think outside of the box with some ingredients that they may or may not have used before and express themselves creatively.
Carrizales believes that the competition shows that cooking can be competitive and that it requires more knowledge than most would think.
“There’s a lot of stuff to it and it’s amazing to see these young Soldiers knowing that base knowledge that, it’s sad to say, some of their peers or seniors might not be aware of,” Carrizales said. “This is what they get to take back to the fight, take back to their organizations to identify that there is competition within their craft and that alone builds espirit de corps and it builds a front that you can take back and it’s muscle memory to them.”