Ex Jt Caterer
Catering personnel from Royal Air Force Marham have recently returned from the Combined Services Culinary Competition, more commonly known as Ex Jt Caterer. This event is held annually at Sandown Park Race Course and pits the best Caterers from all 3 Services against each other.
The Marham Team of 14 Caterers which included 4 Station members selected for the Royal Air Force Buffet Team and made up of both Chefs and Caterers displayed their trade skills in a number of events ranging from junior and senior classes of 30 minute duration through to open and team classes of up to 90 minutes.
Competitors were funded for a total of three practices prior to the competition, such was the enthusiasm and commitment by all team members to not only represent RAF Marham but the Royal Air Force that much of the preparations was conducted in their spare time, post shift and weekends. The preparation of the team can not be underestimated and the support from both FS Mickey Gargett and Cpl Emma Gray whose time, experience and subject knowledge in mentoring the team of Chefs and Caterers respectively ensured all competitors were at their peak for the competition.
The first day saw SAC Liam Grime competing in the Junior Pork class, displaying exceptional culinary skills worthy of his place in the RAF and Combined Services Culinary Team, this resulted in a Silver Medal, best in class and secured the first points in a Blue Ribbon event for the Royal Air Force. Presenting his dish of a Smoked Pork Loin and Braised Potatoes and Seared Pork Loin served with Crushed Peas, Poached Beetroot and Carrots and finished with a Pickled Plum Puree and Apple Jus. The final competitor on day one saw SAC Chris Woodcock competing in the Open Ethnic Class, presenting a Salt Cod Fritter served with a Coconut Mash topped with Wilted Spinach accompanied with a Caribbean Salsa. From the first events it was clear that the Judges marking was extremely tight with high expectations and very little given away.
An 0430 start and day 2 saw the majority of the Marham personnel competing, many of whom were in their first major competition. Despite this everyone was very calm and confident; all but the non competitors who, showing more nerves than the entire team put together had spent most of the night wide awake hoping they had done all they could to prepare the team.
0800 and the first event of the day saw SAC Michael Salmon compete in the Junior Lamb class, continuing from the previous day the judges made a clear intent of the high standards expected, despite this SAC Salmon presented what was his finest dish and was justly rewarded with a Certificate of Merit.
With the first event complete competitors soon settled into the swing of the competition, continuing throughout the morning saw SAC Myke Pollard who was unlucky to miss out on silver ware in the Senior Fish class and SAC John Parr competing against some very strong opposition to secure a Certificate of Merit in the Junior Chicken event.
The afternoon events kicked off with SAC Adam Warner competing in the Junior Chef of the Year. This comprised of a one hour class with competitors producing a main course from a classic recipe and a sweet element containing pineapple. Despite some extremely frustrating practice runs leading up to the competition, Warner pulled out all the stops and secured a Bronze Medal in what was becoming a fierce competition. The day’s events culminated in the team competition of the Inter Services Cook and Serve class. With Cpl Si Blows heading the team of Chefs along with SAC Chris Woodcock who was competing in his second event of the competition and SAC Charlotte Neathway shoring up the Front of House duties on the Caterers side. The duration was one and half hours, with the team presenting a three course meal to two guests and two plates to the panel of celebrity and military judges. With only two practice runs prior to the competition nerves were running high, but once the nerves had settled down and the team got into its stride and all was going well. On the day everything went to plan enabling the team to achieve a well deserved silver medal.
The Royal Air Force hosted the final day of the competition with RAF Marham’s Cpl Chris Beavis, SAC Dan Scott, SAC Dan Cook and SAC Liam Grime competing in the Open Team Buffet. After two day’s of competing the Royal Air Force trailed the Army 6-1 with all to play for. Another early start for the team, however there was little complaining as the Open Buffet Team had worked throughout the night to present their class. The day started well for the Marham Team seeing SAC Grant Worsley awarded a Certificate of Merit in the Open Duck Class and the Open Buffet Team sparking the fight back with the award of a Silver Medal and Best In Class to take the Blue Ribbon points for the Royal Air Force. The Parade of Chefs secured another Best in Class to bring the Royal Air Force back into contention.
The afternoon events saw both Marham Caterers in action. First up was SAC Rachel Walmesly competing in the Senior Steward Skills. Initially setting the table prior to dining Rachel then displayed her exceptional skills in peeling a banana with a fork and spoon, not an easy task, the bananas were then caramelised, flambéed in cointreau and served with a vanilla ice-cream justifiably resulting in the award of a Silver Medal.
The next event saw SAC Louise Lyon competing in the Open Steward class. Competing against members of the Royal Navy and the Army it was clear Louise’s skill set was far beyond her rivals. Serving a fillet steak flambéed in brandy with a mushroom and cream sauce served with a side salad of mixed baby leaves, cherry tomatoes and spring onions with a Dijon mustard dressing her professionalism and interaction with the customer secured a Silver Medal, only a minor flaw from the judges denied SAC Lyon a Gold.
With the Royal Air Force producing it’s finest day the scores were level at 8 points apiece with the Army. The final class and last Blue Ribbon event to take the point and the show case of the competition saw the finest senior chefs from each of the three services pitted against each other in the Inter Services Senior Chef class. Representing the Royal Air Force was Marham’s very own Cpl Chris Beavis, who by now was well into his 30th hour without sleep. Again the competition was strong and the eventual winner came from the Royal Navy.
The win in the final event for the Royal Navy resulted in the competition being declared a draw between the Royal Air Force and The Army with 8 points apiece. Although the Marham Team were young and for many it was their first competition on the big stage all can be extremely proud of their achievements and all members are keen to compete next year and assist the Royal Air Force in an outright victory.
Following our conversation this morning, please find attached the Catering article from the Combined Services Catering Competition (Ex Joint Caterer 12) held recently at Sandown Park Race Course 23-25 Oct 12 for inclusion in the Dec issue of Marham Matters.
The photographic Section has a number of photo’s including a team shot with the competitors and awards. The article is quite lengthy and may need condensing and a little flowering up.
I am on leave until the 19 Nov, if you require any additional detail please contact Sgt Wilson in the JRM on Ext 7880.
Many thanks for all your assistance.