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British Army Chefs takeaway host of accolades at US culinary Exercise

To mark Armed Forces Week we showcase how British Army Chefs swept to victory in record-making style at the recent 48th annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise (48th JCTE) held at Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia USA.

This year the stakes were high with the JCTE attracting more than 150 competitors. The aim of the exercise was to encourage culinary professional development, while paying attention to nutrition, workmanship, presentation, and concepts, as well as wowing the judges with a liberal helping of outstanding and original creativity.

Team manager, Divisional Catering Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Pete Moffat, 1st (United Kingdom) Division, explains what was involved.

Our team of 10 chefs from cap badges across the British Army were split into international competitors and British Army Culinary Arts Team (BACAT) competitors for both individual and team events.” WARRANT OFFICER CLASS 1 PETE MOFFAT,
1ST (UNITED KINGDOM) DIVISION

“The competition was spread over eight days with the United States, Germany, France, and the UK all competing,” he said.

“Our team of 10 chefs from cap badges across the British Army were split into international competitors and British Army Culinary Arts Team (BACAT) competitors for both individual and team events.”

Open to all, BACAT enables Army Chefs to perfect their skills in a fine dining environment.

The team selection for America was made up of chefs that had previously competed at Army Sustainer 2023 and Exercise Joint Caterer 23 where they competed against other services.

Pete added: “The biggest challenge we faced was the short time in which the team had to prepare once landing in the US.

“We were unable to take utensils or any equipment with us, so we relied on our American counterparts. We only had one day to ensure we got all the equipment needed for all categories along with the rations to prepare for our first event.”

As well as competing for Chef of the Year and Senior and Junior Pastry Chef of the Year, the categories menu also included a nutrition challenge, which involved counting fats, proteins, and carbohydrates whilst ensuring the meal they prepared did not exceed 1,000 calories per person.

The Mobile Kitchen Trailer (MKT) Challenge (the US version of a Field Catering System) with the Senior Team cooking and the Junior Team serving, required the preparation of 50 portions of a four-course meal.

Junior Team Captain Private Kendra Simon, of the Royal Tank Regiment, said:

The heat was on from the outset. We had barely two days to practice for the competition. Private Kendra Simon,
Royal Tank Regiment

“The heat was on from the outset. We had barely two days to practice for the competition and had to work really long hours to perfect our dishes. But, despite these obstacles, the team stayed positive, and we gave our best.”

There was also a series of International categories, which saw contestants rising to the challenge on the Open Bread Display. Here, chefs had to produce three different types of dough with two products from each dough type making a total of six different items.

Another category where chefs were aiming for first place was the Show Fish Platter with suitable garnishes, ensuring every piece and slice was the same size and cut evenly before dipping in Aspic Jelly to ensure that the food looked the very best for the judges.

Competitors were also put to the test for best Plated Main Course and Plated Cold Dessert.

For her fish platter, Staff Sergeant Rachyel Ainsworth, from 14 Signal Regiment, was triumphant, winning the gold medal. She said:

“This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the camaraderie of my fellow competitors.

“Even though most categories are an individual event, it wouldn’t be possible without the rest of the team in the background assisting with things like getting set up, cleaning down, staying late to run through dishes and bounce menu ideas around.”

Rachyel also won gold for Plated Cold Dessert. She added: “As well as the highlights of winning, there’s also a huge sense of pride to think that I can inspire the next generation of chefs.

Overall, it was a great experience that I would highly recommend for any chef that enjoys competing or just enjoys cooking.” CORPORAL CHRIS FINCH,
2ND BATTALION THE YORKSHIRE REGIMENT

“I started in the military with no catering experience and have manged to work my way up in the culinary arts world winning at numerous competitions with the British Army and the Combined Services Culinary Arts Team.”

In total the British Army team walked away with four gold medals, three silver, and four bronze. They were also crowned International Champions for the third year running, something that has never been achieved by any team in the history of the competition.

BACAT Captain, Corporal Chris Finch, of Second Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, was extremely proud of all those that that took part.

He said: “My role was to ensure morale didn’t slip, making sure everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing regarding their competing dishes, and was happy with the dishes they had produced.

“Overall, it was a great experience that I would highly recommend for any chef that enjoys competing or just enjoys cooking.”

Our chefs bagged 11 medals during the intense competition. 

The British Army is recruiting right now to fill 10,000 jobs across the UK with more than 200 roles to choose from, covering everything from frontline combat and cyber security to helicopter pilots, chefs, and support roles. If you’re aged 16 to 50, and if you want to find out more about a career in the Army, click here: British Army 

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The British Army is recruiting now for over 200 roles, from frontline combat and cyber security to helicopter pilots, chefs and vital support roles.

If you are aged 16 to 50, then learn more about an Army career here today.

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