USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 culinary specialists competed in a chili cook-off aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Sept. 20.
Twelve cooks throughout CGS 9 were given the opportunity to put their culinary skills to the test and showcase their talent.
The cook-off gave culinary specialists a chance to break away from daily routines and test their knowledge and skills in the galley, creating different variations of their own chili.
"It's a great way to meet other chefs," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Thomas Helms, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 staff. "I wish everybody good luck."
Culinary specialists cook for thousands of Sailors each day using limited ingredients stored aboard. On a typical day aboard an aircraft carrier, culinary specialists serve approximately 15,000 meals and 2.5 million meals over the course of a six-month deployment. Normally as one meal is being served, the cooks are already making preparations for the next meal.
"I don't know what I'm up against," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Keith Williams, USS Cape St. George (CG 71). "This is my first time on a carrier and my first chili competition. I had to modify my recipe to up my game for this competition."
Some of the cooks stirred up traditional recipes, like Williams, who used his father's old recipe for the cook-off. Others put their own spice into the event like making a Bloody Mary chili for the competition.
Chili sampling and judging began at noon in the admiral's wardroom and was judged based on six categories: color, texture, flavor, spice, aroma and consistency.
"This is a good way to display our skills," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Jonathon K. Yates. "Culinary specialists don't get to show what they can really do most of the time."
Yates is a master certified food executive assigned to USS Lincoln, where he serves as the commanding officer's chef. Yates' assistant, Culinary Specialist 3rd Class William Felix, also helped make the chili. Both started preparations for their chili the night before.
The eight culinary specialist teams served samples to the five judges: Rear Adm. Mark D. Guadagnini, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9; Capt. Carol Hottenrott, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9; Capt. John Eden, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2; Capt. Bill Byrne, USS Cape St. George commanding officer; and Capt. Timothy Kuehhas, USS Abraham Lincoln executive officer.
"It is a great opportunity to foster some camaraderie in the strike group, and we get to taste the benefits," said Hottenrott.
After conferring with the other judges, Guadagnini declared the Yates and Felix team the winners of the chili cook-off.
"It is a big accomplishment for me and Felix, being our first chili competition," said Yates. "We get to meet some of our colleagues on other ships and see some old familiar faces. We learn from each other and hope we get the opportunity to do other competitions in the future."
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.