Classic teamwork garnered Team Tribute, the best culinary specialists from the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, several awards with their borderland-inspired menu at the 45th Annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise at Fort Lee, Virginia.
The team took home silver medals in two of the biggest professional categories in the competition, Military Hot Food Kitchen and Nutritional Hot Food, and a bronze medal in the Team Buffet professional category.
Fort Bliss Culinary Team, known as Team Tribute, faced off against more than 200 military chefs from all branches of service around the globe, showcasing their talents and honed skills in the largest military competition in North America sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation.
Their Borderland menu was inspired by the way the El Paso and Juárez communities had come together in the wake of tragedy and the team members wanted to pay homage by representing the very best cuisine that both communities have to offer, according to Sgt. 1st Class Fabian Murillo, a Los Angeles native and certified executive chef assigned to the 153rd Quartermaster Field Feeding Company. Murillo also received a commendation medal for Armed Forces Chef of the Year.
“We wanted to pay tribute to the Borderlands on both sides of the border,” Murillo explained, noting that many of Team Tribute are first-generation Latinos. Inspired by the team’s heritage and culture, the special menu also pays tribute to Latino-Americans’ dual heritage.
Team Tribute brought home a silver medal for the Military Hot Food Kitchen event in which a five-person team must prepare 50 servings of a four-course meal from scratch within four hours; all preparation must be executed in an Army Mobile Kitchen Trailer (MKT).
This type of cooking platform is typically used to feed Soldiers in field environments, so winning a silver medal is a significant accomplishment for the team.
When Team Tribute is not competing, their collective culinary skills ensure readiness in the dining facilities on Fort Bliss and support Soldiers in garrison and on the field, according to Murillo. “The Army appreciates nutrition and what goes into your body,” he said. “We help nourish it so you can fight better, train better and be more efficient.”