Armed with skillets and knives, eight different teams of soldiers and community chefs battled on Fort Drum Wednesday, all vying for the title of Iron Chef. Our Amanda Kelley gives us an up close look at the competition and the secrets to success in the kitchen.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- It's a different kind of battle for these soldiers, armed with meats, vegetables and culinary talent. Eight different teams fighting for the title of 'Iron Chef.'
10th Mountain Division Food Advisor CW3 Felipe Cardozo said, "It's a mystery basket type of competition where there are two mandatory meats that they must prepare. They'll prepare two courses, one main course and two side dishes will be prepared."
In the fourth year of this culinary competition, chefs are challenged to cook against fellow soldiers and local community chefs, using rattlesnake, squab, venison or rabbit.
1st Brigade Combat Team Sgt. Sean Wroten said, "I think it's good for everybody overall because it takes everybody away from the certain brands that they're used to. It puts their talents to a whole other level."
Some teams fought back nerves.
1st Brigade Combat Team Spc. Maria Sampang said, "A little bit nervous also because I just cook by myself for myself or for my friends."
And for many it showcased their hidden talents.
Soldiers say the key to winning this competition might just be keeping your cool in this chaotic environment and everything else will just fall in place.
Sgt. Wroten said, "We're in a small kitchen trying to do a whole lot of stuff, running back and forth, running into people."
Teams faced limited materials and a fight against the clock to cook their courses. Specialist Sampang and Sergeant Wroten represented 1st Brigade after winning a competition at their own dining facility.
1st Brigade Dining Services Manager Staff Sgt. Christopher Rush said, "Just their plate presentation and the taste of their food was just a little bit better than everyone else's. The way they presented it and their attention to detail."
The two cooked up the winning plates and earned the honorable title of Iron Chef, all without following any recipe.
Wroten said, "Anyone can use a recipe card, but it's our opportunity to show what we can do on our own using different seasonings, different types of ways of cooking. It's my time to shine."
Delicious meals that also earned bragging rights for the next year.
This year's Iron Chef competition was the largest yet on Fort Drum. All five brigades were represented, including the 4th Brigade, which is stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana.