Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

July 26, 2011 at 2:48pm

Culinary excellence on display at Rodeo

Tech. Sgt. Danielle Sloan, a flight attendant from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., squeezes honey on peaches during the culinary skills competition July 25 at Air Mobility Rodeo at McChord Field. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christine Jones)

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WASH. -- For the first time in the history of the Air Mobility Rodeo, Air Force flight attendants competed against each other in a culinary arts competition July 25-27.

Although the primary role of flight attendants is to facilitate the safe evacuation of passengers in case of an emergency on board the aircraft, the Airmen are also responsible for providing meals. The competition gave them the chance to show off their skills at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as part of Rodeo 2011.

Five teams from around the Air Force cooked a beef lunch or dinner with a dessert for the panel of judges, who rated the meals based on taste, creativity and presentation. In addition, Chief Master Sgt. Seina Enwright and Staff Sgt. Cat Wilkerson, both flight attendants themselves, observed the cooks to ensure all food items were prepared safely.

"As career enlisted aviators, we have a role in the mobility mission, so it only made sense to have our folks compete at Rodeo," said Enwright, who is also the functional manager for flight attendants at Air Mobility Command headquarters, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. "Having this opportunity also gives our Airmen the chance to learn from each other. There are a few training courses available for flight attendants, but none of them teach how to cook on board an airplane, so most of what we do is on-the-job training or collaborating and learning from one another."

The teams competing were:
- 54th and 73rd Airlift Squadrons, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
- 1st AS, Joint Base Andrews
- 99th AS, JB Andrews
- 76th AS, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
- 310th AS, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

The competitors had $400 to shop for all their ingredients the day before they cooked. They were allowed to bring some specialty equipment, but for the most part had to use what was available to them. When it was their turn, each two-person team had three hours to prepare and serve a meal to the judges and several members of the fire department, who donated use of their kitchen for the event.

Tech. Sgt. Dani Sloan and Staff Sgt. Amy Gillilan, an active-duty Airman, represented the only Total Force team in the event. Sloan, a Reservist, and Gillilan had practiced cooking their chosen meal for people at Scott AFB several times beforehand, charging people a modest fee to cover costs. Because they'd figured out exactly how much of each ingredient they needed, their team only spent half of their allotted budget to produce a tri-tip steak, ranch-style beans, roasted corn and for dessert a grilled peach with vanilla bean and mascarpone topped with honey.

"We were inspired by Rodeo and wanted our dish to reflect that, so we grilled a lot," Sloan said. "But we were also inspired by our backgrounds. I'm from Northern California, so we went with tri-tip, a very West Coast cut of beef; Amy's from Georgia, so we had a Georgia peach for dessert."

"We put a lot of thought into what we were making," Gillilan added. "We were way outside our comfort zone cooking here, so our hope is that all the thought and effort we put into the planning and execution will pay off."

The event was part of Air Mobility Rodeo 2011, a biennial international competition that focuses on mission readiness, featuring airdrops, aerial refueling and other events that showcase the skills of mobility crews from around the world.

The winners of each competition will be announced in the closing ceremonies July 29.

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