Chili cookoff spices up commissary

Competing in the cookoff are, from left, HM1 James Thime, Karey Judice, Rachel Erdel, Capt. Brad Erdel of the U.S. Marine Corps, CM2 Maurice Wah and his wife, Bobbie, and CS1 Shawna Mayer, wearing her uniform from when she served in the kitchen of Vice President Joe Biden.

Photo by Andrea Howry / Lighthouse

Competing in the cookoff are, from left, HM1 James Thime, Karey Judice, Rachel Erdel, Capt. Brad Erdel of the U.S. Marine Corps, CM2 Maurice Wah and his wife, Bobbie, and CS1 Shawna Mayer, wearing her uniform from when she served in the kitchen of Vice President Joe Biden.

Judging the chili are, from left, SWC James Mathews of Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, BUCS Charles Luna of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, Naval Base Ventura County CMDMC Thomas Cyr and Army Spec. Jose Marrero, food inspector.

Photo by Andrea Howry / LIghthouse

Judging the chili are, from left, SWC James Mathews of Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, BUCS Charles Luna of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, Naval Base Ventura County CMDMC Thomas Cyr and Army Spec. Jose Marrero, food inspector.

Capt. Brad Erdel of the Marine Aviation Detachment at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, serves up his winning chili at the First Annual Chili Cookoff at the Port Hueneme Commissary.

Photo by Andrea Howry / Lighthouse

Capt. Brad Erdel of the Marine Aviation Detachment at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, serves up his winning chili at the First Annual Chili Cookoff at the Port Hueneme Commissary.

A Marine whose call sign is “Chef” took first place in the First Annual Chili Cookoff at the Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Port Hueneme commissary, defeating the five other contestants that included his wife and a culinary specialist who used to prepare meals for Vice President Joe Biden.

Capt. Brad Erdel of the Marine Aviation Detachment at NBVC Point Mugu won the Wednesday, Nov. 7, competition with “Our Favorite Chili,” a recipe that included, among other ingredients, homemade chili paste, steak, cornmeal and a bottle of beer.

The five judges — four active-duty Sailors and an Army food inspector — ranked his recipe higher than his wife’s, but she didn’t mind.

“I’m not surprised; I’m very proud of him,” Rachel Erdel said. “He actually does most of the cooking when he’s home. The only thing I knew how to make before I met him was reservations.”

The chili cookoff is the brainchild of the commissary’s new director, Velma Siler, who brought the idea from Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. A bakeoff is in the planning stages for next month.

“It’s for our Sailors,” she said. “It brings some excitement to the commissary.”

The second-place finisher was Bobbie Wah, who won for “Bobbie’s Gut-Busting Chili.” Her husband, Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Maurice Wah of the 31st Seabee Readiness Group, helped serve the chili to the judges as his wife divulged the secret ingredient: tequila.

Finishing third was Culinary Specialist 1st Class Shawna Mayer, whose most recent tour of duty was the kitchen of the vice president’s home in Washington, D.C. Before that, she prepared meals for then-Gen. David Petraeus and before that, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Mayer, who is on terminal leave and is expecting her first child in March, prepared two recipes. The first was Black Mountain Spicy Italian Sausage Chili with Mini Corn Bread Muffins with Roasted Corn and Pepper Jack Cheese. The second, which won third place, was Hunter Creek White Chicken Chili with Mini Corn Bread Muffins with Smoked Gouda and Crumbled Bacon.

But no one could beat Erdel, a culinary school graduate who entered the military after a career as a professional chef, working at, among other places, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“I grew up in the Midwest, and fall to me means football, apple cider and chili,” he said. “It’s comfort food.”

The top three finishers took home $75, $50 and $25 commissary gift certificates, respectively.

NBVC Command Master Chief Thomas Cyr had high praise for all the dishes he judged.

“They’re all very good,” he said after the final tastings. “I’d sit down and have a bowl of any of them. Very nice.”

The other judges were Army Spec. Jose Marrero, the food inspector; Senior Chief Builder Charles Luna of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5; Chief Steelworker James Mathews of Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center; and Senior Chief Michael Root of Port Operations.

The other contestants were Hospital Corpsman 1st Class James Thime of Naval Branch Health Clinic Port Hueneme, who made Black Hawg Chili; and Karey Judice, who made Karey’s Chili and whose husband is Equipment Operator 1st Class Scott Judice of NMCB 3.

© 2012 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Commanding Officer

CAPT. LARRY VASQUEZ

Chief Staff Officer

CAPT. SCOTT LOESCHKE

Lighthouse Editor

ANDREA HOWRY, 805-989-5281

Public Affairs Officer

KIMBERLY GEARHART
Ventura County Star - 805-437-0000

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MARGIE COCHRANE, Ventura County Star

Niche Publications

JOHN GARCIA, 805-437-0365

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The Lighthouse publishes every other Thursday. All stories and photos must be submitted no later than the Thursday prior to publication. To submit a story or photo request, call the Lighthouse editor, Andrea Howry, at 989-5281 or send an e-mail to lighthouse@navy.mil.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014
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