Her Royal Highness Princess Anne visited Grantham at the weekend to witness some of the best culinary talents in the British Army compete against each other.
The Princess Royal watched more than 200 of the Army’s top chefs take part in the prestigious Field Catering and Culinary Arts Competition at the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks on Saturday.
Exercise Army Sustainer is an annual competition organised by 167 Catering Support Regiment Royal Logistic Corps.
Princess Anne saw the Army Chefs, both Regular and Reserve, test their creativity, adaptability and timings across ten categories including formal and improvised cooking.
In an improvised field catering challenge, teams of three chefs whipped up a meal for 20 soldiers using ingredients from a mystery box of fresh rations. First they had to build their stove from materials such as an empty metal drum, a metal grid and some house bricks.
The winners of the challenge were chefs from the ARRC Support Battalion with a menu of Filo baskets filled with halloumi, mushrooms and red onion served with a garlic and mascarpone cream sauce. The main course offered a choice of butternut squash and vegetable curry served with braised brown rice, dhal, tomato chutney and fresh naan bread or parmentier garlic and herb potatoes served alongside a pan fired medley of seasonal vegetables with garlic and herb. Dessert was a choice of individual Italian meringues topped with cream and raspberries finished with fresh fruit compote or individual caramelized mixed fruit towers finished with a raspberry crumb served with coconut sauce analgise.
More refined cuisine was produced in the VIP challenge, which saw chefs produce a three course meal for two dignitaries from a field kitchen. First prize in this category went to Sergeant John Oliver and Sgt Paul Henderson from the Food Services Wing.
Other competitions included The Field Team Challenge, which saw chefs cook a two course meal for 20 people from a field kitchen with the winning menu coming from 1 Logistic Support Regiment.
Individual categories included a Hot Sweet competition that saw Private Laura Chapman from 26 Regiment Royal Artillery beat off eight fellow chefs to take home Gold.
Private Monica Ndungum, 19, who only joined 167 Catering Support Regiment RLC in November, took first place in the Junior Chicken Challenge where the junior chefs prepared, cooked and served four portions of Chicken Chasseur in 45 minutes.
Monica, who is working towards an NVQ in Catering and Hospitality, also demonstrated the preparation of chicken to visiting guests including Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. She said: “I was more nervous doing the demonstration than I was the actual competition. I really enjoyed the day and I am looking forward to coming back next year.”
Andy Clarkson from Sodexo won the Open Lamb Competition. The Open Fish competition was won by Sergeant John Oliver from the Food Services Wing and the Open Pasta competition was won by WO2 Suzi Wood from 103 Regiment Royal Artillery.
The ‘Royal Themed’ Celebration Cake was won by Sergeant Mik Cottingham for his Royal Mail themed cake. He said: “I thought the majority of people would go with the Queen’s birthday as their theme so I wanted to do something different. I asked my wife June who is awesome with ideas and she suggested a Royal Mail cake because they are celebrating 500 years’ service this year.”
The Open Centre Piece was won by Gemma Rodgers of Sodexo.
The Commanding Officer of 167 Catering Support Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Vicky Reid said: “Today has been a great display of the talents of our reserve and regular chefs. They really have served up passion on a plate. The visit by Princess Anne, our Colonel-in- Chief, meant a great deal to all the soldiers here today and made them feel valued. Their talents were centre stage, they were the stars of the show and the visit by Princess Anne made them feel that.”