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Top chef Airman chops into unique opportunity

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Flames leap skyward and sizzle near the man crouched beside them. The flames illuminate eyes weathered by a distinguished yet unfinished Air Force career.

Looking up over the expectant crowd, U.S. Air Force Iberville Carter, 19th Force Support Squadron federal chef, gives a crisp salute Sept. 19, 2018, as he is introduced as a chef representing Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, in the Arkansas Hospitality Association Iron Chef Competition. He then continues preparing his station for the presentation of the mystery ingredients and the start of the competition.

“The Iron Chef competition tests a chef’s cooking skills,” Carter said. “Chefs are presented with a full pantry and a mystery basket of ingredients. They have 30 minutes to cook a meal out of it and present it to the judges.”

Carter cooked solo during the competition, but he was far from alone. Members of the 19th FSS team joined him in spirit; many worked with Carter beforehand to prep food and imparted as much knowledge as possible.

“Right before the competition, we were teaching him vegetable ribbons,” said Brad Meyers, 19th FSS executive chef. “It helps him make tighter plate presentations. We’re ‘one fight, one team’ over here and we’re just trying to set our Airman up for success.”

As the competition began, Carter found himself moving with practiced ease thanks to his culinary arts history. 

“During my time in the armed forces I competed in other competitions like this,” Carter said. “I also grew up around cooking because my father was the first African-American chef on the Las Vegas strip. He inspired me, and I came in guaranteed for services because of him. I can’t draw on a piece of paper, but I can make art on top of that plate.”

Having learned a great deal from the competition and the judge’s feedback on his culinary skills, Carter looks forward to using that knowledge to mentor Airmen to the best of his ability.

“Mentoring Airmen is the main reason why I took this job and it’s why I stay in,” Carter said. “I’m going to take an Airman who has a passion for cooking under my wing and help prepare them for next year’s competition.”