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NEWS | March 9, 2016

Parker, Barnhill score silver in Nutritional Hot Food Challenge for U.S. Army Reserve Culinary Arts Team

By Timothy Hale U.S. Army Reserve Command

FORT LEE, Va. – Why would anyone peel grapes? If you’re Staff Sgt. Joseph Parker and Sgt. Joshua Barnhill, with the U.S. Army Reserve Culinary Arts Team, it makes perfect sense.

Parker and Barnhill peeled grapes, seared trout, and made a spice cake without eggs and milk to earn a silver medal in the Nutritional Hot Food Challenge at the 41st Annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event, March 8, 2016.

“Peeling the grapes helps to alleviate the texture of the grape skin,” said Barnhill, the team’s grape peeler. “We seared them, poached them, and then peeled them.”

Barnhill, who serves in the 377th Theater Sustainment Command from Belle Chasse, Louisiana, has only been on the U.S. Army Reserve Culinary Arts Team for five days and this event was his first taste of culinary competition. He said he wasn’t nervous because he knew that Parker had competition experience.

“His experience definitely helped,” Barnhill said. “I really wasn’t that nervous because I knew if you rush, you make a lot of mistakes. It’s been a complete learning experience all the way around.”

Parker, with the 451st Quartermaster Company, 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), had been away from the team for six years, only recently rejoining. In 2010, he earned a coveted spot as a team member on the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team (USACAT) competing in the Culinary World Cup that year in Erfurt, Germany.

“I apprenticed with [Staff Sgt.] Joshua Spiess on the USACAT team and I learned a lot,” Parker said. “I was over there for 40 days. It was a great, and humbling experience. So now, I know more and I want to pass it on. My expectation, when I walk into a competition kitchen, is gold or nothing. So, if I score silver – I still like silver – but I’d rather win gold.”

Barnhill said that even though he’s been an Army culinary specialist for nine years, he said he had never experience anything like he has seen over the past few days.

“We don’t do anything quite like this, in regards to presentation, at my unit,” Barnhill said. “The skill level is that you see here is amazing. I’ll take back the knowledge that I gained here and pass it on to everybody in my unit. Additionally, I’m going to try to hold the unit to a different standard – a better standard.”

Barnhill encourages any U.S. Army Reserve culinary specialist to try out for a place on the team.

“It’s a great opportunity. Learning is everything,” he said. “Calm down, take it all in it’s a good experience to make something better of yourself.”