The winning team created an entrée of ratatouille brisket with tomato cheese tortellini and a dessert of cranberry-carrot-apple-pound cake topped with a peanut butter M & M glaze.
It might to a soldier because all the ingredients came from the contents of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) bags, which are self-contained, individual rations that the United States military uses for its service members in combat or in the field.
The challenge given to the culinary students in Chef Charlie Jones class at the Southern Adirondack Education Center was to create a meal using only the pre-cooked food included in three MRE bags of their choice. The competition was designed after the Food Network’s show, “Chopped,” where contestants create a meal using only the ingredients that are provided.
Three U.S. Army National Guardsmen brought the MRE’s to the culinary classroom and served as judges for the competition. Guardsman Nick Scialdone explained that the winner of the competition would be the team that created the best meal using the foods they had to work with. Their task: to combine ingredients from the bags of food to make an entrée and a dessert.
The five teams of students were timed and judged on creativity, presentation, and teamwork.
Daniel Stoy, a teaching assistant in the culinary class, is a retired veteran after 17 years of service. He helped the guardsmen judge and shared with students the importance of the MRE in the life of a soldier.
After the judges tasted the meals prepared in the competition, Guardsman Scialdone said, “Kudos to you for your creativity incorporating different MRE’s into one dish and for working as a team.”
About the "Chopped" competition, Chef Charlie Jones added, “It’s a great way for students to utilize their skills that they’ve learned through the year. They’ve finished their exams and it’s a great way to have fun.”
Congratulations to the winning team of Leondra Ovitt, Sarah Wilson, and Dalton Stevens in the morning culinary class. They were awarded the golden knife and a plaque that each student signed beginning a new tradition and annual competition.