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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Expeditionary Training Base"

Competition heats up at Boiling Points cooking challenge

By Cpl. Brianna Christensen | | April 17, 2014


Chefs from the Marine Corps Installations West region took first place against three other services in the Boiling Points cooking competition held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds April 16.

The teams’ dish, which consisted of an appetizer of fried eggplant and seared scallop caprese, and an entrée of seared duck, sweet potatoes and a fruit medley with a star fruit and horn melon sauce, was chosen as 1st place by the judges. The judges were Food Network judges, Penny Davidi and Troy Johnson, and radio personality, Jesse Lozano.

Boiling Points is a competition hosted by Aaron Williams, the corporate division chef for Food Fanatics, Los Angeles, which challenged the Marine Corps, Army, Navy and Coast Guard to go head-to-head in a 45-minute cooking competition.

“We started Boiling Points with US. Foods Los Angeles a few years back and we do it at all of our major food show events,” said Williams. “Today is a little different because it is the first time we have done it with the military.”

US. Foods asked each branch of the military to put together a team of four people that would compete for a first place trophy and a knife kit.

“Boiling Points is just a fun competition,” said Williams. “We introduced three mystery ingredients and the competitors had 45 minutes to complete an appetizer and an entrée which included those ingredients.”

“I have been in many competitions, but this is the first one I have done where we don’t know exactly what we are going to be cooking,” said Arce, the enlisted aide for MCI West and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s commanding general.

The competition was challenging not only because of the mystery items, but because the four Marine chefs had never worked together before.

“Today is the first time we are meeting,” said Arce, a Ponce, Puerto Rico native. “We have never cooked together which makes the competition even more intense.”

Not knowing the mystery ingredients did not stop the Marine team, made up by Staff Sgt. Karla Arce, Gunnery Sgt. Justin Bell, Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Jacobs and Sgt. Arturo Torres, from being the first to enter the kitchen and plan possible dishes with what was available in the pantry.

 “I am competing with other Marines who have been in the field for a lot of years and their skills are insane,” said Arce, who had been a chef for 11 years. “I am looking forward to seeing them in action and seeing how they handle the pressure.”

“We are extremely excited that we were able to do this with the military,” said Williams. “We have done military food shows in the past, but this has definitely been one of the biggest military events that we have done and it was a lot of fun.”

Bell is the enlisted aide for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot’s commanding general, Jacobs is the enlisted aid for the I Marine Expeditionary Force’s commanding general, and Torres is the chief cook for the 62 Area Mess hall on Camp Pendleton.