Culinary Arts Workshop to challenge the chops of 92Gs

Culinary Arts Workshop to challenge the chops of 92Gs

Michigan National Guard


Date: 03.04.2019
Posted: 03.04.2019 10:14
News ID: 312727

Gianni and Lisa Licari bring cooking-show intensity to 92G workshop

Photo By Spc. Samantha Hall | Gianni and Lisa Licari are planned to attend the culinary cook-off portion of the 2019 Culinary Arts Workshop at the Belmont Armory in Michigan. Their first restaurant, Licari’s Sicilian Pizza Kitchen, was opened on the Food Network show “3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay” in 2012. The couple are excited to bring cooking-show intensity to the 92G workshop in April. (Michigan National Guard photo by Spc. Samantha Hall)

The first Culinary Arts Training Workshop and Competition is scheduled to be held April 16-19, 2019, at the Belmont Armory, Michigan.

The event is geared towards attracting and retaining more National Guardsmen to the military occupational specialty 92G, or culinary specialist. This assignment involves cooking and serving food in service of the military, whether in garrison or the field.

The event will provide training in equipment orientation and operation, food field sanitation, and the Army Food Management Information System for Soldiers who are MOS qualified.

The event will also feature a cook-off competition on April 18, 2019, at 1:00 pm featuring Lisa and Gianni Licari, owners of Licari’s Sicilian Pizza Kitchen in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which opened on the Food Network show “3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay” in 2012.

Both Lisa and Gianni will lead their respective teams of eight 92G in a 90-minute cooking competition. However, there will be much more than just cooking involved; injects and conflict are planned to make the event a more exciting challenge for the competing teams.

In 2012, the Licaris had 3-week notice to build their facility from a sandlot with four walls to something to accommodate Bobby Flay’s 3-day attempt to create a fully-functioning restaurant.

They plan on instilling a similar intensity to the competition.

Gianni admits that, before their restaurant opened in 2012, he had been spoiled by the culinary skills of his mother and Italian wife and, therefore, didn’t know anything about cooking. Since the show and the opening of their business, he says his role has drastically changed.

“The reason you’re getting a husband and wife team now, for this competition that is coming up, is because you have a husband, or myself, that knows and can cook better than my wife,” Gianni said.

“Oh, no, no, no, no. I wouldn’t say that,” Lisa retorted with a cringe.

“And so there’s a little bit of a competition there now. And she’s good at what she does in the kitchen and I’m ‘very’ good at what I do in the kitchen…”

“There’s no adjective to describe me? You get ‘very good’ and I get ‘good’?”

“What you’re going to get at this culinary arts competition is a husband and wife team/two know-it-alls in the kitchen that are really gonna provide some fun, some really cool dynamics, and a very friendly competition,” said Gianni before he and his wife flashed each other wolfish, toothy grins.

“We’re trying to have a really motivational, inspirational event for these guys to show them some love, show ‘em a good time,” said Sgt. Maj. Matthew D. Kwiatkowski, G4 Sergeant Major at Michigan Joint Forces Headquarters.

Kwiatkowski says the field of culinary specialty is worth it purely “for the love of cooking.” It’s not always easy, but the results are rewarding.

This is the first time an event like this has been organized by the Michigan National Guard, and Kwiatkowski hopes similar events will continue into the future.

Over the next couple years, he aims to refine culinary teams within Michigan to compete against each other in the Phillip A. Connelly Award Program, established in 1968 to recognize excellence in Army Food Service. Then, after three years, Kwiatkowski hopes to send teams that demonstrate exceptional culinary excellence and professionalism to the Joint Culinary Exercise in Fort Lee, Virginia, the largest military culinary competition in North America.

For now, these ambitions will start with a fun, family friendly event to showcase the world of culinary arts in the Michigan National Guard.


About Webmaster