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Navy Chefs Topple World Cooking Festival in Istanbul
Four members of the culinary staff from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet packed up their cutlery, fine china and best frying pans, and headed off to compete in the 9th International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival, February 17-20,
ISTANBUL, Turkey - Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Bauman and Chief Petty Officer Brandon Parry prepare their first course of triage shellfish bisque during the   âÂCook and Serveeeâ category of the 9th International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival February 20, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. Four Culinary Specialists from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, the maritime component of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), competed against more than 1,200 culinary artists from around the world at the festival, hosted by the All Cooks Federation of Turkey, during which they received a silver medal, a bronze medal and the top sanitation and hygiene award for their efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Malek)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: ISTANBUL, Turkey - Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Bauman and Chief Petty Officer Brandon Parry prepare their first course of triage shellfish bisque during the âÂCook and Serveeeâ category of the 9th International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival February 20, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. Four Culinary Specialists from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, the maritime component of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), competed against more than 1,200 culinary artists from around the world at the festival, hosted by the All Cooks Federation of Turkey, during which they received a silver medal, a bronze medal and the top sanitation and hygiene award for their efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Malek) Download full-resolution version
Four members of the culinary staff from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet packed up their cutlery, fine china and best frying pans, and headed off to compete in the 9th International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival, February 17-20, 2011.

Chief Petty Officer Brandon Parry, Petty Officer 1st Class Curtis Addleman, Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Parigi and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Bauman joined more than 1,200 culinary artists from around the world at the festival, hosted by the All Cooks Federation of Turkey, in an effort to best tempt the palate of eight salon judges.

"Parigi and I approached Chief Parry and asked him to mentor us with the hopes of participating in the competition," said Bauman. "Chief has done competitions like this for years, and with his guidance, we did really well. We won a silver medal for the 'Cook and Serve' category, which was judged on the meal and service; a bronze medal for the Risotto cooking competition, which was a one-man competition; and the number one award for sanitation and hygiene."

This was the first year that a team from the U.S. Navy attended the competition, which came as a great surprise to the sponsors and judges.

"We weren't expecting anyone from the U.S. Navy to come here and compete," said Charles Carroll, a World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) judge. "We were shocked and happy that they came; it was a significant experience for us."

From the time they were accepted to participate in the competition, the team had only four short weeks to get their show together; and it was a show indeed.

The 'Cook and Serve' category team was made of Parry and Parigi, both performing as chefs, and Bauman, served as the maitre d'. Addleman competed in the solo Risotto cooking competition.

"The first week of training was all about deciding what we wanted to prepare and serve," said Parigi. "The last three weeks were spent making the meal over and over again, sometimes three times each day along with completing our daily tasks."

The team eventually decided on a three-course meal highlighting a triage-shellfish bisque, blackened snapper with pickled zucchini and summer squash and airline chicken breast with a variety of side dishes and specialty drinks to compliment them. The team only had 70 minutes during the competition to prepare their three-course signature meal, with no pre-made ingredients and to display their fine-dining etiquette.

"I felt very sure of our abilities when we arrived," said Bauman. "Though once we saw all the spectators and the camera crews, I started getting a little nervous. It was a rush, but we did our best and it was great."

With confidence in their choice of dish and in their training, the team went on to stimulate the taste buds of the eight competitive judges and two spectators pulled from the crowd at random, earning them the silver medal in the 'Cook and Serve' category; an incredible feat for the first participating all-sailor team.

"They were impressed by everything we did and a little bit intimidated by us, I think," said Bauman "The way we presented ourselves, our courses and the way we handled ourselves in the kitchen really displayed the kind of professionals we are."

Once the judges of the 'Cook and Serve' competition were well fed, the team went to cheer on their solo competitor.

Addleman, an Italian-taught chef even before his time in the Navy, joined his team at the competition with one goal in mind: to make the best risotto that these judges had ever tasted.

"I trained at a school in Calabria and with the Italian Culinary Institute," said Addleman. "I never would've thought to use the type of squid that I used or even use the [squid's] ink as a way to season it if it hadn't been for that training. I think that's what really set my dish apart from the other competitors."

With less time for this event, and no extra hands in the kitchen to help him, Addleman certainly had his work cut out for him.

"The way that we trained for this really helped prepare me," said Addleman. "I work by myself at my job everyday, so I really felt ready for this."

Working alone didn't seem to be a problem for Addleman. When the time was up and the plates served, the judges awarded him a bronze medal for his risotto.

"The overall standard of cooking was quite high, even the visual aspect," said Deborah Ratcliffe, a WACS judge. "They had some very interesting concepts and incredibly original designs. They were world class in their performance."

In addition to the awards the team won in each category, they also took the top award for sanitation and hygiene, which is a very distinguished accomplishment amongst the participants.

"I think that there's more pride in this award than the one we received for our meals," said Bauman. "It just really shows what kind of professionals we are and that reflects greatly on the whole [U.S.]Navy."

The team agrees that competitions like this can only improve your abilities, not only as chefs, but as American military ambassadors to the world. With such an outstanding first-appearance in Istanbul, the team is more than ready to get back out and show the world what being a Navy chef is all about.

"This was a great honor and opportunity for us," said Bauman. "The chance to have this kind of networking and meeting so many people from around the world was an incredible experience, and we're really looking forward to our next competition."
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