USDA Farmers Market Opens with a Military Chef Cook-Off

By: Jen O'Brien       Posted On: June 11, 2014

USDAOpening_2014-1On Friday, I headed to Washington D.C. to join FMC President Bernie Prince, Vice President Copper Alvarez, and Board Members Jeff O’Hara and Gus Schumacher in celebrating the 19th season of the USDA’s Farmers Market. The Opening Day festivities, which fell on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, highlighted the intersection of American Agriculture and the U.S. Military. The ceremony opened with a presentation of colors by the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard and the playing of the national anthem by United States Marine Band.

Anne Alonzo, Administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and Arthur Neal, Deputy Administrator, thanked returning veterans for their service, and highlighted the important role that their skills and experience can play in our agricultural community. Chuck Milam and Brian Borda of the Department of Defense were on site to announce a new development in the Healthy Base Initiative—a partnership with the USDA to create a user’s guide for running farmers markets at military installations. Milam said, “We’ve already had several farmers markets at healthy base locations—14 different locations that have been very successful. So we’re very excited to be here today and establish that partnership.”

The main event of the day was a cook-off between chefs representing each of the armed forces: Sgt. Monique Sorrell from the Army, Staff Sgt. Tasha Goodrich from the Air Force, Petty Officer Drew Arters of the Navy, and Sgt. Joseph Hale of the Marine Corps. The chefs used local, fresh ingredients to create dishes which were judged by Arthur Neal, USDA employee and former Army cook Alexis Taylor, and Eric Ziebold, Executive Chef at Mandarin Hotel’s CityZen. Chef Sorrell brought the prize home to the Army with her winning dish of cocoa-rubbed flank steak, asparagus and mint couscous.

We loved this fantastic take on a chef at the market event. Are you planning cooking demonstration, cookbook signing, or cook-off at your market? Show us! Share photos of your event with #FarmersMarketChef.