The thrill of victory, lessons learned in defeat

Sgt. Kaiden Nguyen

Sgt. Kaiden Nguyen

By Staff Sgt. Johnathan Hoover, 11th Air Defense Artillery, 32nd AAMDC,  Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Marc. 16, 2017) The Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th “Imperial” Air Defense Artillery Brigade, had two Soldiers compete in the 1st Armored Division Iron Chef of the Quarter Competition March 7-9 at the Fort Bliss Culinary Center here.

Sgt. Kaiden Nguyen of Riverdale, Georgia, and Spc. Devin Broussard of Houston, displayed the courage and tenacity to take on all of Fort Bliss for Imperial with Nguyen winning it all in the noncommissioned officer category.

“I felt like I accomplished something great, not really for myself but for my section,” said Nguyen.

“I have to get ready for the Iron Chef of the Year now,” said Nguyen. “I’m going to continue to study and expand my knowledge of all areas of preparation and presentation.”

This isn’t exactly Nguyen’s first time achieving this goal, winning his first competition at Fort Drum, but he did not win in his first competition here at Fort Bliss.

“Persistence really does pay off,” said Nguyen. “When you put your mind to something and you continue to work toward that goal, you’ll usually end up achieving it.”

“Win or lose, the lesson I would have taken back with me is how much this has improved my cooking skills and how much it showed me if I buckle down to something and put my mind to it, then I can achieve it,” said Nguyen.

Unlike Nguyen, this was Broussard’s first competition, and although Broussard didn’t win this time, he isn’t ready to hang it up and will be back.

“It was new to me so I’m still in the learning process,” said Broussard. “I hope during the next competition, I do better than I did in this competition.”

Nguyen added that just one time coming here and doing this will increase a Soldier’s knowledge. It makes better leaders, it makes a better Soldier and it’s just an all-around good competition, he said.

That’s exactly what it did for Broussard.

“I learned to try to stay calm, try not to get frustrated so I’ll do better on concentrating and focus,” said Broussard.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Davidson said the Soldiers of ADA don’t receive the same training on plate presentation for a competition like this. Most just work in the dining facility and that’s all they know.

“I think the cooking portion is the hardest portion,” said Nguyen.

Broussard agreed the cooking was the hardest part.

“I’ve never done culinary before and I just learned culinary from cooking in the dining facility. Here it’s all about art, presentation and time management. I’m used to cooking for everyone and not for looks,” said Broussard.

Nguyen suggested researching a few things before coming to this competition.

“Before coming to this competition, look at the food channel, check out Pinterest and just study up on everything,” said Nguyen.

The competition also included a physical fitness test, weapons qualification, cooking portion and a knowledge board.

Nguyen said sometimes food service specialists are looked down on for the job they chose and people don’t consider them real Soldiers.

“I want everyone to see this competition and acknowledge cooks can do PT, we can shoot our weapons on the range, we go to the board, and with all that, we still have to demonstrate our culinary skills and put out a wonderful meal every day in the dining facility,” said Nguyen.

“As a Soldier, you should already be physically fit and you should already be able to shoot your weapon,” added Nguyen.

“The one thing I would like to add about this competition, if you’re a noncommissioned officer you should really urge your Soldier to do this,” said Nguyen. “It will set them up for the future Soldier of the Month board and promotion board.”


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