Story by Douglas Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs
He had approached a family member and asked for his secret recipe to use in preparing for the ‘Ribs’ portion of the highly-contested event.
“I told my uncle that I really needed his recipe, the one that’s a winner! With a lot of help from my co-workers at the galley, we pulled it off,” said Wojcik, who was stunned in being announced as the winner in the 2017 69th Annual Armed Force Festival’s Culinary Arts Competition for ribs.
He babied his barbeque pork ribs for several days before the actual event, constantly marinating, basting and seasoning. The end result was an entrée dish that literally fell off the bone. The ribs instantly drew rave reviews by those fortunate enough to be able to taste before they were gone. NHB’s director for administration immediately announced that they needed to be placed on the command’s menu schedule.
“CS2 Wojcik’s ribs are so good that we are going to replace the ribs we now offer with them on the 21-day menu rotation. These are incredibly good,” stated Cmdr. Robert McMahon, adding that CS2 Daniel Gleeson’s chili that was also on display at the event would be added as a soup option on the upcoming menu rotation.
“Since this was my first time, it was nerve wracking. But fun. It was great to be able to show what we do because much of our time is spent behind the scene in preparing the daily menus,” said Wojcik, from Grants Pass, Oregon.
The competition brings together military commands from all service branches throughout the greater Puget Sound region to showcase their epicurean skill in dishes ranging from chili to chicken to cake and is routinely held in conjunction with the city of Bremerton’s annual Armed Forces Day Parade, billed as the largest west of the Mississippi.
The event began as a simple chili cookout 44 years ago and has since branched out to what was on display in front of an appreciative and enthusiastic crowd. In the past there has also been such varied competition involving ice sculptures and garnish displays, hors d’oeuvres and appetizers.
Despite his first time jitters in the limelight, Wojcik took it in stride.
“I can call home and share this! The recipe really is a winner,” Wojcik said.
He might have added a little culinary specialist expertise to ensure just that.