Fort Gordon culinary students help give back to soldiers

News 12 This Morning/Tuesday Dec. 17, 2013

FORT GORDON, Ga. (WRDW)--"[For] a lot of these kids, it's their first time away from home. Some of these guys come straight from high school to basic training, so it's kind of nice to give them a little taste of home," said Sgt. Gabriel Earl.

Giving soldiers at Fort Gordon a taste of home is literally what culinary instructor Sgt. Earl had his culinary students do, by baking more than 10,000 cookies for Operation Goodie Bag--to provide a treat for about 3,500 soldiers for the holiday season.

"It was... a warm feeling," said Specialist Camille Ricketts, a culinary arts student at Fort Gordon.

The culinary program on Post just started this year, offering culinary training to soldiers who already had a background in cooking for the masses.

"With cooking in like a main DFAC, you're cooking for thousands of people so the amount that you're cooking is so much greater than cooking for culinary, which is like one or two, three people," Ricketts explained.

She says baking 10,000 cookies and other baked goods wasn't as hard as some of the other work Earl has them do.

She's only been stationed at Fort Gordon for five months now and says it's the first time she's getting restaurant style culinary training.

"You know, with the cuts and seasoning and plating and things like that," Ricketts said. "Things that I only saw on the Food Network--is what I started doing when I joined the culinary team."

"In our freezer we have duck and lamb and things like and they get to experience something new," said Earl.

"For me, what I'm taking from it is eating new things, learning new things because it's only going to make me better," said Ricketts.

But as these soldiers continue to learn fine dining, Ricketts tells me she and the rest of her class were happy to mass produce--for a good cause.

"It was fun," said Ricketts. "Everyone worked together well and we got the job done. That's what it's all about."

There are about a dozen soldiers in the culinary class there on post. They meet four times a week and came in on a weekend in order to bake everything for Operation Goodie Bag.

Volunteers and spouses came together to put the bags together and several businesses and folks in the community donated candy and the ingredients to make the baked goods.

The Fort Gordon culinary team is now preparing for one of the largest cooking competitions in every year--a military wide competition in Virginia taking place in March.

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