The L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, La., is helping soldiers from nearby Fort Polk get basic and advanced training in hands-on culinary knowledge and skills.
To help “Team Polk”—the culinary team from the United States Army’s Fort Polk, La. Installation—prepare for the 40th annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event, to be held in March at Fort Lee, Virginia, the base has turned to specialists from the nearby L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, La.
The ten soldiers on the Team Polk team have been getting training in advanced, hands-on culinary knowledge and skills from the professionals in the resort’s restaurant kitchens. With the help of the L’Auberge chefs, the soldiers are learning everything from classic knife-cutting skills and world-class plating design, in addition to instruction on how to provide a boldly flavored ribeye steak cooked to order, or prepare thinly sliced octopus drizzled with lemongrass oil and topped with delicately placed caviar.
“We want to help train the soldiers, not only for this competition, but we want to impart skills that they can use if they choose to make cooking a career outside of the military,” says Lyle Broussard, Chef of the resort’s Jack Daniels Bar and Grill. “We are training the soldiers by fusing classic culinary styles with a modern approach to cooking.”
Members of the Fort Polk team are well aware of the tremendous opportunity that L’ Auberge is affording them to enhance the basic food-preparation techniques they learn as Army specialists who are charged with cooking food according to strict standards and dietetic recipes.
“The skills of the chefs we are working with, and the learning process, is pushing us far beyond cooking off of a recipe card,” says Pfc. Joseph Grims. “I never thought I would be training for the Army in a place like L’ Auberge. The training that we are receiving is invaluable.”
This year, due to team size, Team Polk will not be competing for the Culinary Installation of the Year award during the Fort Lee event, because teams must have 13 members or more to compete in that category. But Fort Polk’s culinary brigade still has high aspirations for what it hopes to bring back from the competition.
“My goal is that everyone on our team comes back with a medal from the American Culinary Federation [a sponsor of the event],” says Sgt. Joshua Hoyt, the Team Polk captain. “Doing that means everyone has to place in the individual events—and with this training, I believe we can do it.”