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Messhall has recipe for success

17 May 2000 | Cpl. Scott Carlson

The station Enlisted Messhall has proven it knows how to prepare a heaping bowl of success, after being home to the Commander Marine Corps Bases Western Area Chef of the Quarter for the fifth time in a row.

Lance Cpl. Duran B. Cote, cook, Marine Wing Support Squadron-371, was awarded the prestigious honor for the 2nd quarter of fiscal year 2001 at the ComCab West Chef of the Quarter board, which took place at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., April 25.

"I took everything the cooks here taught me and made them work at Miramar," said the 22-year old Portland, Ore., native. "All the other cooks helped me win."

For his efforts, Cote was presented with a trophy, a chef of the quarter coat, and will be awarded a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Cote said.

According to CWO-2 Dwayne P. Walsh, food services officer, messhall, the competition for ComCab West Chef of the Quarter is a brawl between cooks from MCAS Yuma, MCAS Miramar and  the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. However, before competing at Miramar, cooks here must compete against one another.

A 50-question written exam is administered to all the cooks in the messhall, said Gunnery Sgt. Brian K. Dieken, Enlisted Messhall manager. The top three competitors from the written exam then stand before a board in their service "C" uniform and are given an oral exam. The most prepared Marine from that board is then sent to compete at Miramar.

Once in the final competition, Cote and the other two Marine Corps cooks he was competing against were given a 35-question written test. Cote took the written test by two questions. After that, the cooks went into a cook-off. Steak was the main entree for the cook-off. The cooks were free to prepare any dish they wanted. Cote prepared pepper steak with fried rice and vegetable stir-fry, and apple cream cheese torte for desert, clinching his victory in the cook-off portion of the event.

"His food didn't taste better, it looked better," Dieken said. "He won the cook-off by a large margin due to his garnish abilities.

Cote said he spent the day and night prior to judging preparing his dishes so they looked good. Something his competitors didn't do.

Cote is the fifth Marine from the station to be awarded ComCab West Chef of the Quarter over the last five consecutive fiscal year quarters.

"It's a pride factor now," said Dieken. "I'd hate to be the Marine that goes up there now and doesn't win."

For every competition, the station messhall sends up a Marine who hasn't already won to give them a chance to take the top honors, said Dieken.

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