Fancy yourself a good cook? So do the 20 chefs selected to participate in the 10th Force Support Battalion’s (10FSB) Exercise Golden Plate held in October at Lavarack Barracks.
Led by the 1st Catering Company, Exercise Golden Plate involved individual catering platoons selecting five chefs to compete to see which Australian Army Catering Corps (AACC) chefs excelled in their trade.
Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Michael Kearney, operations warrant officer at 1st Catering Company, explained how the week-long activity was conducted.
“The activity was as much trade education as it was competition,” WO2 Kearney said.
“We had a series of specialised culinary training sessions to enhance the chefs’ knowledge before they tackled the challenges.
“This included chocolate workshops, professional military education with nutritionists, and updates from leaders in emerging catering technologies.”
The chefs also received workshops on practical and high-end culinary techniques from WO2 Shaun Woolard, chef to the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF); Sergeant Emma Perry, chef to the Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF); and Sergeant Sujan Bhattarai, chef to the Chief of Army (CA).
Using the skills gained from the workshops, the chefs applied their knowledge to individual and team catering challenges, including a signature individual pasta dish, dessert and a mystery box challenge.
The winners from each challenge and the overall competition winners were judged by Commander 3rd Brigade Brigadier Khalil Fegan, senior catering staff at 10FSB, a few lucky Indigenous youth from the NRL Cowboys House, and Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) to promote ADF catering employment pathways.
Overall individual competition winner Corporal Amy Blunt, who took home the prize with her hot chocolate lava cake, spoke about how the challenges forced her to work outside of her comfort zone.
“The dessert was actually the most challenging aspect of the competition for me, as this is not my strongest area,” Corporal Blunt said.
“I’m thrilled I pushed myself, and I am very happy to get the win.”
When asked about the highlight of the event, Corporal Blunt said hands down that it was the workshops with the VIP chefs.
“The session from the senior chefs really captivated us,” Corporal Blunt said.
“Learning about where our career can take us really inspired the chefs to perform our best throughout the challenges.”
While the competition was fierce, 1st Catering Platoon from Townsville took the prize for the overall best team dishes, with judges selecting their spring chicken roulade with garlic and white wine sauce as their best dish.
Team leader of 1st Catering Platoon Corporal Mark Cook spoke about how the concentration of 20 chefs in Townsville created both an environment of competition and an air of esprit de-corps.
“This activity really enhanced our corps and company unity,” Corporal Cook said.
“Enhancing our social and professional interaction with other members of the corps gave us the opportunity to share ideas and techniques.”
WO2 Kearney commended all the participants on a job well done, and was notably thrilled at the talent displayed.
“The team really worked well together, shared ideas, and demonstrated professionalism in the kitchen,” he said.
“We all identified some very talented AACC chefs who exemplified culinary flair.”
Golden Plate 21 identified selected individuals to participate in future planned events, including short-term secondments to Canberra to work alongside CDF, VCDF and CA VIP chefs.
Army chefs experience a diverse range of jobs including menu planning, provisioning, food prepping, cooking and service.