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Airman Chef Competition: serving up artistry

Walter Stump McDowell seasons bacon-wrapped swai for the appetizer course during the Airman Chef Competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ray Crayton)

Walter Stump McDowell seasons bacon-wrapped swai for the appetizer course during the Airman Chef Competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ray Crayton)

Green Team members are busy at work putting together a colorful appetizer dish. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ray Crayton)

Green Team members are busy at work putting together a colorful appetizer dish. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ray Crayton)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Four teams, one winner. The scene in the kitchen at the base restaurant was a shot right out of a television cooking competition.

The Robins Airman Chef Competition Friday evening was a test to see which team could produce the best four courses during the course of the evening. More than 50 people were in attendance and served as judges for the dishes.

In the end, Walter Stump McDowell and his gold team triumphed with an entrée of pork tenderloin and a potato side.

McDowell is no stranger to cooking contests as he has been on BBQ Pitmasters along with his wife, Tab McDowell better known as Mama Stump.

"Just have fun," McDowell told his team before the competition.

The gold team's selections also included an appetizer of bacon-wrapped swai with mango and goat cheese, a soup course of asparagus and onion, and a dessert of cream puff pastry with piped Chantilly cream and pine apple compote.

More than 900 dishes would be served by the end of the night, according to Jon King, Base Restaurant manager.

"We were able to mesh individuals from many backgrounds and cooking abilities to provide a masterful delivery of food art and delectable tastes not seen at Robins," said King following the event.

Each team had one master chef from the local area. Two teams were stationed in the downstairs cooking area while the other two were upstairs.

Zac Marfell brought his two children, Parker, age 11, and Rylee, age 7, to support their mother, Rebecca Marfell, who was on the brown team. They had their own competition going on at the table as well. The child who was the best behaved received a reward.

"We regularly watch 'Iron Chef' and 'Chopped,'" said Zac Marfell who works in the Foreign Military Sales F-15 program office.

Coworkers Vanessa Capra, Grace Wingfield and Tammy Tobler - all from the C-17 FMS office - didn't know what to expect of the competition. They all agreed they weren't expecting a live three-piece band along with their meals.

"The ambiance is awesome," said Wingfield.