FORT LEE, Va. (March 10, 2011) -For the past two weeks, the 36th Annual Culinary Arts Competition has been home to the military's most talented and passionate chefs, and one culinary kid who has an appetite for becoming a chef.
Adam Eudy, the 15-year-old son of Crystall and Mark Eudy of Hilton Head, S.C., began cooking nearly three years ago to avoid one of the families' chores - the dishes.
"We had three chores," Adam said. "Laundry, dishes (for a family of seven) and cleaning our rooms were the choices. I would have to do the dishes. Our rule was if you cooked you didn't have to clean the kitchen, so eventually I decided I would start cooking to avoid the dishes."
After cooking for the family for a few months, Adam took a couple of cake decorating classes and began to perfect another culinary skill. He's become an accomplished cake decorator and has designed birthday cakes to wedding cakes complete with professional taste testing.
Geography has helped open kitchen doors for Adam. Hilton Head is home to Food Network star and restaurant owner Robert Irvine and during a dinner at Robert Irvine's eat!, Adam's parents mentioned their son and his love for cooking to chef Lee Lucier. An invitation to visit and observe some of the industry's best chefs turned into an apprenticeship that is now part of Adam's home-school curriculum.
For more than a year, Adam has been working once a week at the restaurant and honing his skills at home with assignments from Irvine.
During a fundraising event for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in January, Adam met the members of the Pentagon's culinary arts team and earned an invitation to visit the chefs in Washington, D.C. The family's schedule brought them north during the competition, which meant Adam would have the opportunity to meet with the Pentagon team at the country's largest culinary arts competition here.
Adam admits that prior to meeting the Pentagon's team, he was unaware the military trained chefs of this magnitude.
"I honestly thought the Army cook used powdered mashed potatoes like I saw on television," Adam said.
The young culinarian teamed with Sgt. 1st Class Andre Rush on Saturday to demonstrate the preparations involved in making a honey spiced salmon with a shellfish sauce, chocolate steak with bacon and an apple tarte tartin.
"It was a great experience working with an amazing chef," Adam said. "He asked me what I wanted to make and included me in the planning process."
Rush encouraged Adam to be confident in the skills he's acquired including filleting a salmon. He said working with the youngster was great.
"He was diligent," Rush said. "He and I got along better than some of the trained chefs I have worked with, which says a lot about his personality, his training and his overall raising in general. I just love him. I know I am going to see him somewhere in the future."
On Sunday Adam performed his own demonstration where he prepared bourbon cranberry beef sliders, a boursin-stuffed chicken breast and a mixed berry cobbler, said Raymond Beu, director of training, Joint Culinary Training Directorate, Joint Culinary Center of Excellence.
"We were excited to see such passion, commitment and culinary skill from such a young culinarian," Beu said. "Adam has a gift, and we were honored that he came to visit the show. I hope that we were able to fuel the passion he has for culinary arts, and we look forward to his return in future years as a celebrity chef or perhaps as a food service professional in the Armed Forces.
During his visit to the competition, Adam met many of the chefs participating and viewed the student skills competition. He also dined on the Pentagon's field competition's meal that earned a gold medal.
"I enjoyed being on the opposite side of the table," Adam said. "It was nice to sit and watch the process."
Adam hopes to attend culinary school in the future but hasn't shut the door on military service. He is currently a second lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol.
"Of course, I'd probably choose the Air Force," he said.
In an ironic twist, as Adam has become more accomplished, he said he has learned one of the first rules of chefs - cleaning as you go.