The Air Force chefs took a more
conservative approach, choosing, instead,
to concentrate on four specific dishes. They
started with a seafood soup and ended with
a rich chocolate soufflé accented by a berry
coulis. The Navy pushed out six incredible
courses, including garden-vegetable terrine,
Egg in a Nest and smoked yellowfin tuna.
The Marines chose to concentrate their
efforts on four courses: a duck appetizer, a
seafood course, a composed salad featuring
rabbit and an entrée of Asian pheasant. And,
finally, the Guardians cranked out six courses,
matching the Navy course for course.
In the end, the defending champion, the
Army, repeated its victory, just edging out the
Navy to be named Freedom Chef Challenge
champions once again. Rounding out the
close competition, in third place, were the
Guardians from the Coast Guard. All the
teams should be proud of themselves,
because they all cooked incredible food and
did their branch of service proud.
trying times. An additional $4,000 was
raised by the sale of aprons that New Chef
Fashion Inc. donated to the event. All five
teams donated their prize money to the
cause, totaling, between them, another
$2,450. A grand total of $21,450 was
given to the Fisher House Foundation.
I thanked each one of the competitors, and
I continued to thank the many servicemen
and servicewoman I saw during the
convention. As cognizant as I try to be of
their sacrifices for our country and our
safety, the significance of the event still did
not fully dawn on me until I was boarding
my plane for the flight back to New York.
In line behind me was a man, wearing a
Vietnam Veterans hat, who had one arm. I
couldn’t help but wonder if there had been
anything like a Fisher House for his family,
or for him. I said, “Please go ahead, sir.” He
The Navy’s Paul Maloney, left, and Michael
Edwards were just edged out of a win by
the Army team.
Scott Zabel works on one of four courses
produced by the Marines.
gave me an appreciative smile and a quiet
thank you and went by.
I whispered a quick thank you to God that
I live in the land of the free and the home
of the brave, and a thank you to all of our
armed forces for keeping it that way.
Thomas Recinella, CEC, AAC, is an
associate professor and program director of
culinary arts at State University of New York
at Delhi, Delhi, N. Y., and a member of ACF
Chefs and Cooks of the Catskill Mountains.
GIVING BACK—AND GIVING THANKS
As awesome as the event was, the
proceeds raised by this event was, in the
end, the crown jewel of the day. $15,000
was raised by sponsorship secured
through Prows’ efforts, all of which was
donated to Fisher House, a not-for-profit
organization that houses families of
servicemen and servicewoman during
The ACF National Championship
Freedom Chef Challenge was sponsored
by Christopher Ranch LLC and Five Star
Gourmet Foods, Inc.