FORT LEE, Va (March 17, 2011) - In a decision where first and third place were separated by less than two points, Team Pentagon was presented the Installation of the Year title during the 36th Annual Culinary Arts Competition awards ceremony Friday at the Fort Lee Theater.
The team edged out Fort Bragg, N.C., by a little more than a point and the Coast Guard team was less than a hundredth of a point below the Bragg score. This year was also the first time the Pentagon has competed for Installation of the Year.
"It's awesome - the guys worked very hard on this for months - on nights and weekends," said Navy Culinary Specialist Chief Derrick Davenport, Pentagon team manager. "It's a great payoff for all those hours invested and the talent demonstrated by the team.
"We were pretty nervous because we were neck and neck with Fort Bragg the entire competition," he continued. "When Fort Bragg was named as second place, we knew it had to be us at first. It was a good feeling to actually win."
Team Pentagon's Sgt. Billy Daugette claimed the highest individual honors when he was named Armed Forces Chef of the Year. Daugette said he's competed four times at the annual event.
"It's been a goal of mine since I started competing ... it's overwhelming right now," said Daugette, shortly after the awards ceremony. "It's pretty exciting to finally reach my goal.
"Having the Pentagon team win the Installation of the Year award as well was just a cherry on top for me," he continued. "We set the goal to win the whole thing and clean house during the competition, and we came pretty close."
Daugette said working on the Pentagon team was exciting because of how much they were able to learn from one another, and how much they were able to motivate each other.
"We expect excellence from one another - and we won't hesitate in calling each other out if someone is doing something halfheartedly," he said. "We expected to win when we came down (to Fort Lee). Anything outside of a gold medal probably would have been a disappointment, especially since each of us has earned a gold medal in the past."
The Pentagon earned Best in Class for the Contemporary Cooking category with Davenport's submission. Staff Sgt. Orlando Serna and Spc. Sarah Deckert were named Nutritional Hot Food champions. The team also claimed second place in the Field Cooking Competition. For their cold table display, Pentagon had the best team buffet table and Deckert had the Best Exhibit in Show for Category A. Serna was also awarded for the most artistic exhibit in show.
Fort Bragg, who earned the second place title overall, captured first place in the Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Exam and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jeffery Lein and Master Sgt. Travis Jones claimed the Best Ice Carving in Show award.
The Coast Guard team earned first place in the Field Cooking Competition and won the Student Team Skills Competition.
A multitude of other awards were received during the ceremony. Air Force Senior Airman Ghil Medina, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, was declared Junior Chef of the Year. Fort Carson, Colo., garnered third place in the Field Cooking Competition and Fort Riley, Kan., received honors for the best decorated table during the Field Cooking Competition. Spc. Thomas Richberg from Team Hawaii claimed Best in Class for Contemporary Pastry.
Other awards for Best Exhibits in Show for the cold table display include Team Europe's Pvt. Chelsea Karr in Category B, Fort Riley's Pfc. Martha Cobble in Category C and Fort Carson's Spc. Samantha Gaytan in Category D. Fort Hood, Texas, earned the judge's special award for their table display.
This year, individuals and teams received 122 gold medals, 217 silver medals and 208 bronze medals.
Army enlisted aides participate in a four-day event for the title of Enlisted Aide of the Year each year during the culinary arts competition. Sgt. 1st Class Steven Broome, who serves as an enlisted aide for Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, claimed the title and will compete against the other services' enlisted aides to be named the top aide across the Department of Defense.
During the two-week competition, several participants also tried out for the 2011 U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team. The 13 individuals who earned a spot are Sgt. Marc Susa, Staff Sgt. Edmund Perez, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Williams Allison, Sgt. Billy Daugette, Spc. Robert Capazzi, Navy Culinary Specialist Chief Derrick Davenport, Coast Guard Food Service 1st Class Edward Fuchs, Sgt. 1st Class Steven Broome, Pfc. Deborah Adams, Sgt. Rose Picard, Spc. Sarah Deckert, Coast Guard Food Service 2nd Class Katie Kietman and Staff Sgt. Motavia Alston.