St. Rose Army cook trades Kevlar helmet for chef’s hat
Army Reserve Spec. Timothy Ralph, of St. Rose, gets started on his “culinary masterpiece.”
Army Reserve Spec. Timothy C. Ralph, son of Reynold and Elaine Ralph of Turtlecreek Lane, was a competitor in the 35th Culinary Arts Competition, which was held last month in “Kitchen Stadium” at the Fort Lee Field House.
The competition brought together more than 200 competitors from 26 military installations who “brought it to the table” for a chance to be named the best of the best military food specialists.
From ice sculptures, seafood, wild game, pastries, and amazing centerpieces made from chocolate, the competition had it all.
For some, it was their first time competing, and for others it was a chance to try and reach a goal that they have yet to achieve.
“This is my first time to compete here,” said Ralph, who is a food service specialist with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas. “I am here to get more experience and network with the best culinary specialists in the military.”
Sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation, the competition was open to military members from all services.
The competition has taken place every year since 1973, with the exception of 1991 during Desert Storm and 2003 during the Iraq War kickoff.
For Ralph, getting to the competition was no easy task. It took weeks of practice, lost sleep, and going back to the basics to refresh skills and techniques that may not have been used recently.
“To prepare for this competition, I spent six months of rigorous training at the Fort Hood Culinary Center,” Ralph said.
In addition to recognizing the skills and talents of the competitors, the Culinary Arts Competition also served as a unique opportunity for Ralph and the other competitors to interact with world-class culinary professionals and gain valuable knowledge that will further enhance their careers.
Judges and instructors from England, Sweden, and other countries were brought in to provide valuable feedback to the participants. Many of the judges belong to the American Culinary Federation and World Association of Chefs societies.
“While I am here, I hope to get some new culinary ideas,” said Ralph.
As part of the competition, two teams squared off daily in field kitchens. They were responsible for preparing and plating 75 five-star meals, which were available to ticket holders for $4.25, a fraction of what diners would pay at a regular five-star restaurant. This gave the general public a chance to experience the high quality meals that were prepared by Ralph and his fellow competitors.
Though Ralph didn’t win, the experience he gained from the event was more than worthwhile.
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