International flavour to Army's culinary contest at Grantham barracks
Army chefs found themselves cooking for celebrity chef Simon Rimmer at this year’s Exercise Army Sustainer.
Simon was one of four guest judges at the Army’s annual flagship event that saw over 180 of the Army’s top chefs compete in a wide variety of culinary classes that covered both operational and formal dining at the Prince William of Gloucester barracks in Grantham.
The chefs, both Regular and Reservist, took part in ten categories, used over 900kg of potatoes, 1,500 eggs and 2,400 litres of fuel in the one-day competition that tested their creativity, adaptability and timings.
Also taking part in the competition were teams representing the Danish and American Armies, civilian chefs from across the MOD and chefs from the local community including local holiday camp Butlins.
The aim of the competition was to give the Army chefs an opportunity to showcase their skills and to demonstrate how they support operations and contribute to the moral component of fighting power.
The versatility and expertise of the modern Army chef was demonstrated in the Improvised Team Challenge in which three man teams whipped up a mouth-watering two-course meal for 20 soldiers using ingredients from a mystery box of fresh rations. However, first they had to build their stove from materials such as an empty metal drum, a metal grid and some house bricks.
More refined cuisine was produced in the Grand Prix, which saw chefs challenged to produce a three course meal for two dignitaries from a field kitchen. Individual categories included a Hot Sweet Challenge and an Open Pasta and Open Fish challenge.
Mr Rimmer said: “Today has been a great day. I am the biggest fan of the improvised cooking. I’ve competed in that a couple of times. I think the quality of the food that the guys and girls are cooking from digging a hole in the ground, using an old filing cabinet for an oven and then using a sheet of metal for a stove is absolutely out of this world. We’ve seen some amazing things.”
Other categories included the Junior Chicken Challenge that saw the junior chefs prepare, cook and serve four portions of Chicken Chasseur in 45 minutes. Army Reservist Private Claire Gardner–Padden, 31, of 205 Field Hospital, beat off ten fellow chefs to take first place.
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Jane Cattermull said: “This competition is the only Army wide competition open to all Royal Logistic Corps Chefs and this year we have had chefs from the Danish and US Army competing and we also had a visit from the French Army who hope to compete next year.”
Lieutenant Colonel Brian Ketz from the US Army’s 16 Sustainment Brigade said: “Days like this only builds upon our friendships and networks. It’s been very exciting to work with our co-partners in culinary expertise. We’ve learnt so much in our brief time here. It’s interesting to see the techniques that they use and how they complement our skill sets that we use across our military."
The competition was hosted by 167 Catering Support Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps. The Reserve unit is the Army’s only dedicated catering regiment and provides chefs to support units on operations and exercises.