UPDATE: Fort Gordon culinary students bring home medals

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News 12 This Morning/Wednesday April 30, 2014

It's been about six weeks since Sgt. Lance Smith and Sgt. Donovan Burkes competed against thousands in the 39th Annual Military Culinary Arts competition, but they remember it like it was yesterday.

"Coming up in the building, the nervousness of coming into a competition like that," Smith said.

4"Nervousness! I believe a lot of us were nervous when we first got up there on stage," said Burkes.

The culinary program on Post started in August 2013.

Now, almost 7 months later, they're their showcasing their talents here at home at Ft. Gordon's Customer Appreciation Day.

With just six months of training, they competed in March for the first time since 1985 and now every team member has brought home a medal.

"We had one silver. One silver, six bronze and one commendable," explained Burkes.

"It feels really good to bring home the medal," said Smith. "Everybody did very good and just coming home to Fort Gordon and everybody supporting the culinary team and everybody was behind us."
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Both Sgt.'s Smith and Burkes tell News 12 what they've learned from the culinary team, they'll take into their future.

"I believe it's set me up for success in the future," Burkes explained. "I've learned a lot throughout this whole first time and I'll be able to take these skills with me all throughout my career and I'll be able to teach my soldiers along the way."

Aside from receiving recognition, they say their biggest accomplishment from the program was learning their craft while also serving in the military.

"It was a real crunched schedule because a lot of culinary teams practice year end and year out. With us it was like...7 months," Smith explained.

"It's usually very smooth in a regular civilian job, but in the military I believe it's harder because on top of actually doing this, we have to go to our actual companies and do our other jobs," said Burkes.

Every member of the culinary team is part of the 35th Signal Brigade.

The program wraps it's first year next month and starts back up again in August and there's no word yet on whether they'll be competing again next year.

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