BREMERTON, Wash., May 24, 2017 — When Naval Hospital Bremerton’s Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Wojcik agreed to participate in the 69th Annual Armed Forces Festival’s Culinary Arts Competition, he was ready.
Wojcik, a Navy culinary specialist, had approached a family member and asked for his secret recipe to use in preparing for the event’s barbecue ribs category.
“I told my uncle that I really needed his recipe — the one that’s a winner,” Wojcik recalled. “With a lot of help from my co-workers at the galley, we pulled it off.”
Wojcik said he was stunned when he was announced as the winner in the ribs category.
He said he babied his barbecue pork ribs for several days before the event, constantly marinating, basting and seasoning. The end result, he said, 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 them before they were gone.
The hospital’s director for administration immediately announced that they needed to be placed on the command’s menu schedule.
“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,” Navy Cmdr. Robert McMahon said.
And, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Gleeson’s chili that was also on display at the event would be added as a soup option on the upcoming menu rotation, McMahon declared.
‘It Was Nerve-Wracking, But Fun’
“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, who hails from Grants Pass, Oregon.
The competition brings together military commands from all service branches throughout the greater Puget Sound region to showcase their epicurean skills in dishes ranging from chili to chicken to cake. The competition 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 grown since. In the past there’s been competition involving ice sculptures and garnish displays, hors d’oeuvres and appetizers.
Despite his first-time jitters in the limelight, Wojcik took it all in stride.
“I can call home and share this. The recipe really is a winner,” Wojcik said.