By Cpl. Nicola McCuin
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Yuma, Ariz. -- For
some, baking is a chore. But for others, it comes as natural as
eating. Lance Cpl. Jeremy S. Duncan, MCAS Mess Hall baker, has
been interested in baking and cooking about as long as he can
remember. Duncan recently proved that his proficiency in the
galley is as solid as his love for culinary creations. He was
selected as the Commander, Marine Corps Air Bases Western Area's
Chef of the Quarter.
"Once a quarter, the best two Marines
represent the air station at the competition," said Master
Sgt. Leonard J. Rose Jr., mess hall manager and member of the
Chef of the Quarter board. The Marines are selected on their
ability and food preparation knowledge, Rose added.
The competition was held at MCAS El Toro. The
day began with the Marines taking a written test. "We were
tested on basic food service knowledge, sanitation, table
settings, field mess, and pastry," said Duncan, a Tacoma,
Next, the Marines reported to a five-member
board. As with all meritorious boards, the Marines' appearance
and bearing was under scrutiny too.
"I was a little nervous reporting to the
board," 22-year-old Duncan said. The Marines were asked 10
questions. "The oral portion of the exam was in the same
subject areas as the written," Duncan said.
For Duncan, the studying paid off, and he
creamed the competition. "I studied general knowledge. But
many of the things we do on a daily basis -- like checking meat
temperatures to make sure they are at the correct cooking
temperature or right for serving," said Duncan, who enlisted
in the Marine Corps to travel and gain experience.
Duncan attended a vocational cooking school
before joining the Marine Corps, and his recruiter persuaded him
to stay with his vocation. "I'm glad I did. I love all
aspects of the job," Duncan said. "After someone has
had a hard day at work, they look forward to a nice meal before
they go home and relax, and I like being able to serve people and
make them happy."
Duncan's first kitchen experience was at the
tender age of 8. "I went out and picked blackberries, came
home and found a cook book, and I made a blackberry cobbler and a
big mess," he said.
Duncan does not intend to take his culinary art
away from the Marine Corps anytime soon. "I want to do at
least one more enlistment, and then I will decide if I'm going to
stay in or get out," the baker said.
According to Rose, the mess hall had hit a dry spell and not captured the Chef of the Quarter trophy for several competitions, but Duncan has quenched the drought.
Division of Public Affairs, Headquarters,
United States Marine Corps, Washington, DC 20380-1775 Commercial:
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Date: 05/29/97 Release #: 345
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