News Search

178th Wing Airmen take first, second place at Mess Hall Madness event

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rachel Simones
  • 178th Wing

Two members of the 178th Wing placed first and second at the Mess Hall Madness cooking event hosted by Chef Robert Irvine at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base USO, Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 22.

Master Sgt. Jacob Hellickson won first place, and Senior Airman Solita Powell won second place.

Hellickson’s winning dish was schaschlik.

“It’s basically a kabob. It’s traditional from where I grew up in Germany as a staple, barbecue, summer-type dish,” said Hellickson.

He seasoned the dish with charred scallion, basmati, tzatziki, and curry chutney and served it over a bed of rice.

Hellickson’s dish was inspired by his upbringing in Germany. Hellickson’s father was in the Army, and was stationed just outside of Heidelberg. Hellickson’s time spent in Germany inspired his traditional European dish.

 He scored 37.7 out of 40 possible points.

 “This was the first time that the USO had done this [type of event],” said Hellickson. “They really went all out.”

Four service members competed in the cook-off. The competitors had one hour to complete their dishes, and they had to be cooked on a charcoal gas grill.

“It was super nerve wracking, but it was fun,” said Hellickson. “It was a fantastic experience.”

Four judges, including Chef Irvine, rated the entrees based off of presentation and taste.

Irvine is a celebrity chef who hosts the Food Network series Restaurant: Impossible. He has more than 27 years of culinary experience.

“It was great to have the Guard represented in such a big way,” said Hellickson.

Service members who participated in the cooking challenge were selected from photo and video entries that they submitted prior to the event.

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market sponsored the event.