“Cooking has always been an aspiration,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Rebecca Messex, a food service specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron and winner of the Food Service Specialist of the Quarter competition at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. “I started cooking when I was younger with my family and have always been in the food industry, so cooking has always been a comfort to me.”
The Food Service Specialist of the Quarter competition has been a long-standing tradition within the Marine Corps Food Service community.
The program is designed to allow food service Marines to showcase and demonstrate their individual culinary skills. It enhances the overall Marine Corps Food Service and Subsistence Program by providing incentives and recognition to food service personnel.
Messex competed against other food service Marines on the air station for an opportunity to compete in the Marine Corps Installations Pacific Food Service Specialist of the Quarter Board to be held on April 19, 2017, in Okinawa.
“I’ve competed once before as a Lance Corporal and won that one as well,” said Messex. “This time around wasn’t so much about trying to win, it was to push myself to do the best I could, already knowing what I was capable of.”
The competition consisted of five different events to test the Marines knowledge within the food service industry.
Three winners were selected after a written test, uniform inspection, oral board and a second written test to compete in the cooking portion of the competition.
“Every food service Marine has the opportunity to participate in chef of the quarter,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Amin Valdes, a mess hall manager with H&HS. “The three who made it to the cooking round were those who did best on the boards prior to the cooking round.”
Valdes said every Marine is encouraged to give maximum participation as it correlates with their job and increases their knowledge.
Events such as the Food Service Specialist of the Quarter are stepping stones to programs in the Marine Corps.
“I plan on submitting an enlisted-aid package,” said Messex. “If I’m approved I will be sent to culinary school, bartending school and hotel management school. After that I’ll work in the Secretary of the Navy’s Mess at the Pentagon until I can get picked up by a general where I could then be their personal chef.”
Testing Marine’s food service abilities grants them knowledge of where they are at and the potentials they can reach.
“I’m happy to have made it this far,” said Messex. “My goal for the next level in Okinawa is to make it past all of the boards to the cooking round. If I can do that I will be happy, and hopefully I’m able to win.”
Story by Lance Cpl. Joseph Abrego