Joliet West students compete in Cooks and Camo Competition

Megan Krok, Editor-in-Chief

On Wednesday, April 20, members of the military led the Cooks and Camo food competition with students of Joliet West’s food fundamental classes. The competition involved a three course meal prepared by students only using MREs, or Meals, Ready-to-Eat, that was provided and judged by the military members. 

“The kids work on team building, creativity, and they get to explore their pallets a little bit more,” said Staff Sgt. Ralph Fulgham of the Illinois Army National Guard, who was a judge in the competition.

The food fundamental classes were broken into groups to prepare three courses, an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, for the judges. Students were given for minutes to make the appetizer, six minutes for the entrée, and another four minutes for the dessert. Judging was then best on the flavor and presentation of each dish.


According to food fundamental teacher Elizabeth Gurican, students had little to no preparation for the competition. “I kept the lab a surprise for them,” Gurican said. “They knew that guest speakers were going to come in and cook with them and that it would be a competition,but they didn’t know what ingredients they would have, how much time, what type of style food they would be making.” Once the students were given their MRE packages, they had 2 minutes to plan out their meals.

Groups that won the competition were awarded with water bottles and shirts from the military members. Additionally, students were able to receive more information about the Illinois Army National Guard and how students can get involved.

“I thought it [the competition] was an amazing opportunity,” said Gurican. “The students enjoyed the national guard members that came in, the fast-paced competition, and being able to be creative with what they had given to them in order to complete a dish.”