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Military Foodservice Professionals Hone Their Culinary Skills and Build Their Careers at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

Servicemen and women from all branches of the U.S. military took part in advanced culinary education, training, mentoring, and networking sessions at the 2016 Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence, Aug. 1-5. The annual event is hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena, California.

- 2016 Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation in California, Aug. 1-5. -
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Aug. 09, 2016 – Servicemen and women from all branches of the U.S. military took part in advanced culinary education, training, mentoring, and networking sessions at the 2016 Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence, Aug. 1-5. The annual event is hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena, California.

Forty one students attended this year’s Forum and participated in courses on knife skills, global flavors, and culinary techniques. The weeklong educational event is designed to hone attendees’ culinary and foodservice management skills by offering interactive seminars, cooking activities, and mentoring and career-coaching sessions. The classes are led by top culinary instructors from The CIA, and leaders in the restaurant and hospitality industry participate in mentoring sessions and roundtable discussion to share their expertise with the students.

Highlights included interactive tasting seminars, roundtable mentoring sessions, and a special session added to the traditional CIA program that addressed creative ways to enhance UGR’s (unitized group rations), modules commonly used in the military that provide a complete, hot meal for servicemen and women in the field.

In addition, a competitive healthy recipe contest, sponsored by Rose Packing Company, challenged students to create a complete meal using pork loin over the course of an afternoon.

GySgt Larry Thomas, SSgt Michael Adamson, Sgt Cindy Argueta, Specialist Karen Butler, SrA Quentin Cole, CS2 Jeremy Knox, Specialist Joshua Miller, Sgt Keon Pondexter and Ssgt Brenton Schmidt served on the winning team. Their winning dish was a Grilled Mojo Marinated Pork Loin with Herbed Saffron Couscous, Cilantro Lime Slaw with Roasted Poblano Peppers and Pan Roasted Tomatoes. The judges were provided with a rubric to choose the winners based on taste, appearance, nutrition, and recipe creation.  

Several industry leaders sponsor and attend the forum including representatives from Sodexo, Hormel, Ecolab, NewChef Fashion, Victorinox, Ventura Foods, Butterball, Hobart/ITW, BJ’s Restaurants Foundation, Aramark, and Sysco.  Trinchero Family Estates hosted a military appreciation dinner and Constellation Brands hosted the graduation celebration.

“With more than 40 years serving U.S. government clients, Sodexo is honored to help build the skills – and careers – of the top foodservice professionals from our nation’s armed forces,” said David Scanlan, CEO, Sodexo Government Services, North America. “This forum at Greystone – one of the most distinguished culinary educational facilities in the nation, if not the world – provides our servicemen and women with the expertise they need to continue offering the best in foodservice to our nation’s armed forces.”

“The Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence fulfills a crucial gap, providing our military foodservice professionals with the necessary skills to succeed not only in their current roles, but in restaurant and industry careers for years to come,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president, NRAEF. “With the restaurant industry thriving, these culinary educational sessions will help our servicemen and women build rewarding careers – both during and after their service to the nation.”

According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 250,000 military veterans are currently employed in the restaurant industry, and the number of employment opportunities is projected to increase by 25,000 in the next five years.

“The NRAEF’s military training program continues to evolve and I’m so proud to be a part of the difference the Foundation is making in these men and women’s lives,” said Dick Hynes, representing the Hobart Corporation, a division of ITW and chair of the NRAEF Military Advisory Group. “This event not only provides additional training to military foodservice personnel, it challenges them to become even better leaders and shows them what they can achieve in the foodservice industry.”

The National Restaurant Association and NRAEF have a long history supporting the US military dating back to 1956, working to build career opportunities for military personnel, veterans and their families. The Culinary Institute of America also boasts its own deep US military connections, making it the ideal venue for continuing education for military foodservice personnel. Founded by Frances Roth and Katherine Angell in 1946, the school was designed to help returning World War II veterans learn the necessary practical skills to enter the post-war workforce.

The following military personnel participated in the 2016 Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence:
  • SSgt Michael Adamson; US Air Force, Little Rock Air Force Base, AR
  • Sgt Eric Antonio; US Army Reserve, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Ramoncito “Ramon” Arcega; Military Sealift Command, USS Mount Whitney
  • Sgt Cindy V. Argueta; US Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton, CA
  • SSgt Octavius Ausbon; USAF Reserves, Maxwell AFB, AL
  • SrR Alexandra Ayub; US Air Force, Francis E. Warren AFB, WY
  • Amn Ruta Bartkute; US Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK
  • SrA Trevor Boutin; US Air Force, Peterson Air Force Base, CO
  • Sgt Benjamin Brezovic; US Marine Corps, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Specialist Karen Butler; US Army, Kaiserslautern, Germany
  • E4 Caleb Cejka; Air National Guard, Boston, MA
  • SSgt Anthony Clarkson; Air National Guard, 123rd Airlift Wing, Louisville, KY
  • SrA Quentin J. Cole; US Air Force, Ellsworth AFB, SD
  • Specialist Samuel Colesworthy; US Army, Fort Bragg, NC
  • CSC Phillip Cushman; US Navy, San Diego, CA
  • SrA Brennan Duhe; US Air Force, Travis AFB, CA
  • Sgt Erick Fleming; US Marine Corps, Portland, OR
  • Assistant Cook Norma Garcia; Military Sealift Command, Barrigada, Guam
  • SrA Alex Hall; Air National Guard, Des Moines, IA
  • CS2 William Harris; US Navy, USS Texas
  • SSgt Haylee Jones; USAF Reserves, Duke Field, Florida
  • A1C John Hisola; US Air Force, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
  • CS2 Lugene “Lou” Johnson, III; US Navy, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • CS2 Jeremy Knox; US Navy, Point Loma, CA
  • SSgt Gretchen Manalo; US Air Force, Hulburt Field, FL
  • A1C Juwan Milhouse; US Air Force, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England
  • Specialist Joshua Miller; US Army Reserve, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • CS2 Malik Moody; US Navy, Naval Base Rhode Island
  • Amn Cristian Narino-Garcia; US Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, FL
  • CS2 Ryan Panado; US Navy, Yokosuka, Japan
  • Sgt Keon Pondexter; US Marines, Jacksonville, NC
  • PFC Justin Reichwein; US Army, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  • Specialist Renaldo Rodriguez; US Army, Kaiserslautern, Germany
  • GySgt Marc Rodriguez; US Marines, San Diego, CA
  • CS2 Bradley Simpkins; US Navy, Yokosuka, Japan
  • SFC Katherine Struck; Army National Guard, Lincoln, NE
  • SSGT Brenton Schmidt, US Air Force, San Antonio, TX
  • PFC Brian Styles; US Army, Kaiserslautern, Germany
  • GySgt Larry Thomas; US Marines, Beaufort, SC
  • Sgt Carlos Valentin; US Marines, Beaufort, SC
  • Sgt Letty Y. Vazquez; US Marines, Camp Lejeune, NC

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the NRAEF exists to enhance the restaurant industry’s service to the public through education, community engagement and promotion of career opportunities. The NRAEF works to attract, develop and retain a career-oriented professional workforce for the restaurant industry. In 2016, the restaurant and foodservice industry is projected to provide a record 14.4 million jobs, making it the nation’s second largest private sector employer. For more information on the NRAEF, visit

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