by John Turner
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
9/24/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Three
NCOs from the 341st Force Support Squadron will demonstrate their
culinary mastery Oct. 7 as they represent the 341st Missile Wing in Air
Force Global Strike Command's first Global Strike Challenge 2015
Outstanding Chef Competition at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
Staff Sgts. Justin Reynolds, Stephen Marvin and Derek Cruz will have
three hours to prepare a main course and dessert as they compete against
six other teams in an outdoor venue. The primary ingredient required in
each dish will be revealed the night before, allowing each team to
develop a strategy. A panel of ten judges will grade each plate on
taste, texture, tenderness, creativity and overall presentation.
The winning team will be revealed Oct. 21 during the Global Strike Challenge score posting event.
While creating a meal guaranteed to impress ten different palates is a
tall order, Reynolds, the team's captain, is confident Malmstrom will
whisk away the inaugural victory.
"If all three of us agree on a flavor and we can execute it, I think we'll have a winning product," he said.
The team advanced to the Outstanding Chef Competition team through the
wing's 3rd Quarter Warrior Chef Competition Aug. 24. Together, Reynolds,
Marvin and Cruz wowed local judges by planning and preparing tri-tip
roast with roasted leeks, loaded mashed potatoes and blackberry crepes
within an hour and a half and incorporating three ingredients revealed
at the start of the event.
"In a way, the actual (GSC) competition may be easier," Reynolds said,
noting that the team will have several hours instead of mere minutes to
plan an approach. "We can sit around and ponder what we're going to make
and throw some ideas at each other."
All three members have broad experience with food preparation and bring
diverse culinary knowledge from all over the world through their
individual cultural upbringings as well as from various military
assignments and deployments. As teammates, they bring all that together
to create unique flavors.
"We've all been to a lot of different places in the world," Reynolds
said. "And you're always around different types of chefs from around the
world and you get to pick up on a lot of different things."
Cruz said his parents taught him how to cook starting at a young age in
Puerto Rico. His style is influenced by Spanish and Caribbean flavors,
and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of spices.
"The sun never set on the Spanish Empire at one point so you can imagine
the variety of flavors they brought to the culinary aspect of things,"
Cruz said. "Anywhere from Southern Spain to Northern Africa, Morocco,
those flavors captivate me."
Cruz has been in the Air Force for seven years--his anniversary date
coincides with the GSC competition--and at Malmstrom for a year and a
half. He is married and has a daughter, and plans to someday commission
as an Air Force officer.
Despite his passion for cooking, Montana is Cruz's first Air Force
assignment working in food service. He is currently the NCO in charge of
training missile field chefs.
"I've been waiting for this chance to show what abilities I hold," Cruz said.
Marvin is from Colorado and has been in the Air Force almost nine years.
He recently transferred from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron to the 341st
FSS to become the morning shift supervisor at the dining facility. He
has been at Malmstrom three years, is married, and plans to open a
restaurant after he retires from the military.
"Most of my career has been cooking," Marvin said, adding that before he
came into the Air Force his original passion was preparing sushi. His
style is influenced by recipes and garnishes of Asia, especially of
Korea through his family, and Europe. He said he learned most of what he
knows about cooking at Little Rock, Arkansas, where the focus was on
the flavor and tenderness of meat and the quality of the product as a
"I have an appreciation for learning different techniques and concepts
of cooking from all these different people, and for turning food into
art while making it delicious at the same time," Marvin said.
Reynolds is from Ohio and has been in the Air Force 11 years, three at
Malmstrom. Most of his Air Force career has been in food service
including recent duties in the missile complex. He is married and has
He said he learned a lot about cooking while in Japan and Korea. But if
the theme of the GSC competition leans toward Louisianan cuisine, he's
ready for that--he prepared many seafood specials while assigned to
Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
"I think the team we have is really going to pose a problem for younger
teams," Reynolds said. "Being able to have this experience and know we
can step out of the box on any variety of food is a benefit."
Cruz agreed, joking that he was surrounded by water for 20 years and is not a stranger to seafood either.
"That's where we're strong, being so diverse and growing up in different
parts of the United States," Cruz said. "We have a working knowledge of
growing up with these flavors and tastes."
Global Strike Challenge is the world's premier bomber, intercontinental
ballistic missile and security forces competition. Through competition
and teamwork at various locations throughout the country, the event
looks to foster esprit de corps, recognize outstanding AFGSC personnel
and teams and improve combat capabilities. More than 450 Airmen from
across AFGSC, as well as the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve
Command, Air Force Materiel Command and Air Combat Command will take
part in Global Strike Challenge competitions at various locations
throughout the country.