US ‘Iron Chefs’ Win Annual Cooking Competition In Japan

By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

I’m not sure what would be more fun – being the chef in a cooking competition, or the judge?

Either way, several U.S. and Japanese soldiers recently got to taste-test their comrades’ creations at an Iron Chef competition held during exercise Yama Sakura 73, a yearly bilateral command post exercise involving the U.S. military and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

Iron Chef at Yama Sakura

What's the SECRET INGREDIENT to a great partnership? Sometimes working together, means a little friendly competition. Only one team will take home the elite Golden Cutting Board — get a taste of the action at #YamaSakura right here!

Posted by Yama Sakura on Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Four teams went head-to-head. Team Mandoline, assigned to U.S. Army I Corps, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was up against a team from the JGSDF’s 9th Division called the Professional Nine. Japan’s Team Matsushima was up against their own comrades, the Cherry Blossoms of Dewa.

Army Sgt. David Tyo prepares chicken wings with waffles coated in a Sriracha maple syrup at the Iron Chef competition during exercise Yama Sakura. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew R. Cole

Working in kitchens at Camp Sendai, the teams had two hours to prepare a main meal and a dessert. They didn’t have much time to plan ahead, and if they didn’t have everything ready by lunchtime they were disqualified.

Their fellow troops got to be the taste-testers and critics – they voted on who got to take home the elite Golden Cutting Board. This year, the winner was Team Mandoline! They cooked traditional American foods, including chicken wings with waffles coated in a Sriracha maple syrup.

Soldiers from team Cherry Blossoms of Dewa from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Corps gather and prepare ingredients for a chicken wing dish during Iron Chef 2017 during exercise Yama Sakura 73. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Marquis Whitehead

“I’m just grateful for the experience and I’m very grateful for the support for all the cooks,” said Army Spc. Destinee Banda of Team Mandoline. “I think it just shows how hard we worked, and hard work pays off.”

“What this shows is the great relationships that we build across our entire units and formation,” said Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, I Corps commanding general. “This is just a great example of what our relationship and partnership really means to us.”

Congrats to Team Mandoline and all of the chefs!

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