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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 5, 2023

Coast Guard Culinary Team 3-peats in the Joint Culinary Training Exercise 

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG Writer 

The Coast Guard’s Culinary Team took home the Armed Forces Culinary Team of the Year honors for the third straight year, medaled in EVERY competition they competed in, and are sending three members to join the U.S. Army’s Culinary Team to compete in the 2024 World Culinary Olympics. 

Not a bad showing 

On top of winning the top prize of Armed Forces Culinary Team of the Year, your Coast Guard Culinary Team earned seven gold, 10 silver, and five bronze medals. The accolades go on: 

  • Petty Officer First Class John Toman won Armed Forces Chef of the Year 
  • Petty Officer First Class Miriam Lutz won Armed Forces Pastry Chef of the Year 
  • Petty Officer First Class Danielle Hughes won Best in Show for the Overall Hot Food Challenge 

With Lutz’s win as Armed Forces Pastry Chef of the Year, she earned an opportunity to represent the Coast Guard to compete at the American Culinary Federation’s National competition in New Orleans. 

Go Coast Guard, beat Army! The team earned gold in the Mobile Kitchen Trailer, beating out ten Army teams on their own equipment!  

The Military Mobile Kitchen Trailer is a team event where five chefs cook a four-course meal on the exact equipment the Army uses while deployed down range. The kitchen trailer uses compressed diesel fuel to run the extremely high-heat equipment which includes a flat top, two burners, and an oven. Led by Toman, the MKT Team secured the Coast Guard’s fourth consecutive victory in the category. 

  • Petty Officer First Class John Toman, from the Commandant Flag Mess, led the team. 
  • Petty Officer First Cass Miriam Lutz, from Training Center Yorktown, Virginian, prepared the desserts. 
  • Petty Officer Second Class Raymond Filippi, from Station Wrightsville Beach, made the vegetarian option and all the sauces for each dish. 
  • Petty Officer Second Class Alvin Cooper, from Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin, (get this:) made ricotta cheese for the salad topping. He made ricotta cheese! 
  • Petty Officer Second Class Brett Pierce, from Base Miami, served up the soup and puree for each dish. 

Student Team Challenge  

Not to be out done, our most junior cooks brought home the silver in the coveted Student Team Challenge. 

  • Petty Officer Third Class Brooke Contegiacomo, from the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, led the Coast Guard’s Student Team, serving as executive chef and expeditor (expo). 
  • Petty Officer Third Class Samantha Mouring, from the Coast Guard Cutter William Trump, dished up a salad consisting of compressed beets and goat cheese terrine. (I don’t even know what that is and this third-class petty officer is whipping it up like no big deal!) 
  • Petty Officer Third class Boris Mewborn, from the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca, skillfully executed a challenging Escoffier fish course.  
  • Petty Officer Third Class Sierra Slocum, from the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, took the lead on desserts, serving up lemon bars and homemade ice cream. 
  • Petty Officer Third Class Jared Hausler, from the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball, nailed the Cornish game hen course. Hausler also served as the apprentice to Toman in the Armed Forces Chef of the Year competition. 

Still more medaling 

  • Filippi and Pierce earned silver medals in Nutrition Hot Food Challenge wherein they each skillfully prepared a four-course meal under 1,000 calories. 
  • Contegiacomo also raked in a bronze medal in the new category of Student Pastry Chef of the Year for her drool-inducing, banana foster-inspired cake. 
  • Mewborn represented very well as he pulled in a bronze in the Student Chef of the Year category. 

What comes after all this winning? 

Our team did so well that the U.S. Army’s Culinary Arts Team selected Toman and Hughes from the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Quarters, and Petty Officer First Class Jeff Plotz to join them to compete in the 2024 World Culinary Olympics.  

The Culinary Olympics is the oldest, largest, and most diverse international culinary arts competition in the world. Roughly 1,800 participants from 67 nations fought for the Olympic title in the 2020 Culinary Olympics. Plotz, from the Department of Homeland Security’s Executive Dining Facility, represented the Coast Guard in the competition as a member of the Joint Military District of Washington Team. 

Team Makeup 

With Toman, Hughes, and Lutz leading, eight members from operational units across the fleet joined as new Coast Guard Culinary Team competitors. This is not a hand-selected team of all the best Coast Guard cooks with competition experience or Special Command Aides only. These are operators. These are culinary specialists who are out there on the high seas cooking for their crew day in and day out, coming together for 10 days of training, and then going head-to-head against the best chefs from across all branches of service to include international teams as well. 

Joint Culinary Training Exercise 

The Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) at Fort Lee is the largest military culinary competition in North America. The competition is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation and showcases the talents of military chefs from around the globe in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.  

The JCTE continues to focus on the student chef – our future. The current format mirrors the structure of the World Culinary Olympics held every four years in Erfurt, Germany. This annual event has it all: ice sculptures, pastries, seafood, wild game, and amazing centerpieces made of all edible items. From aiolis to zabaglione (had to look that one up, too!), it can all be seen during the annual JCTE.  

Coast Guard Culinary Team History 

Since 2008, Coast Guard Culinary Team has racked up 500 American Culinary Foundation medals and six best-in-show awards for individual competitions.  

Over the years, the team has become a platform for advanced culinary training and mentorship for Coast Guard culinary specialists. Each year, the Culinary Services Division selects new team members who receive coaching and training from members with prior competition experience. The goal of the Coast Guard Culinary Team will always be to provide culinary specialists with the skills needed to advance their culinary acumen while encouraging these members to pass on their newly obtained skills to improve food service delivery and mission support across the fleet.  

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