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Surprised, the soldiers ask, “Are these the burger buns we ate in the military?”

2023 International Military Cooking Competition


A complete transformation of hamburger buns supplied to the military

Teams created a variety of hamburgers using their own recipes

Ingredients from the Mystery Boxes were creatively cooked in just 30 minutes

A recipe book presented in the competition will be published and distributed to the military


The 2023 International Military Cooking Competitio 

The 2023 International Military Cooking Competition held at Seoul aT Center on November 7 was a festival of taste sensations. The sound cooking utensils echoed around the ears and stimulated the appetite, and the smell of delicious food filled the air. The completed dishes attracted attention with their splendid appearance. Top military cooks representing Korea, the United States and Singapore participated in the cooking competition.


On November 7, the team, “We Are the Top Chefs of the Navy” of Mine/Amphibious Flotilla Five, prepare hamburgers in an Army burger competition at the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT center) in Seocho-gu, Seoul.


“Clatter, bang, swish, sizzle” (the sounds of cooking and using utensils)


Chefs deftly transformed basic ingredients into luxurious dishes with their nimble fingers. The military cooks were busy preparing ingredients and cooking, but they remained calm and composed. Visitors were amazed by one chef’s lightning-fast knife skills, which were so deft that his hands were a blur as he prepared the ingredients.


Despite the sudden cold weather across the country one day ahead of the onset of winter, the cooking competition was filled with the enthusiasm of the cooks, as hot as the heat from the cooking equipment. The military cooks worked earnestly even in simple processes such as roasting vegetables and cutting fruit. Tension was felt as the time limit of 60 minutes approached. Judges visited each of participating teams, observed their cooking process, and asked questions.


For the first task of the competition, “recipes with multiple uses, Army burger,” the dishes were extraordinary. The dishes prepared by military cooks were like the expensive handmade burgers served in popular restaurants. The completed dishes were offered to judges and visitors for tasting purposes.


There was a queue for tasting. The visitors were amazed. The juicy meat and fresh crunchy vegetables were impressive. After trying the top recipes made by top cooks, evaluation did not seem to be important.


The Army burger competition is based on hamburger buns supplied to the military. The chefs produced different and unique flavors for the military hamburgers, which usually have a uniform taste. The creativity of the military cooks stood out. Sergeant Park Jun-ho, a member of a team from the 18th Fighter Wing East Sea Defense Squad, said after the Army burger competition ended, “Although I didn’t have enough time, I did my best and I’m confident that the results will reflect the effort I put in.”


The Army burger competition was followed by a “Mystery Box” event competition. This event was designed to test the cooks’ ability to react instantly, with ingredients revealed only as the competition started. Unexpected items, including noodles and canned foods, were provided, and the cooks were given 30 minutes to prepare dishes using their creative ideas.

(P2) Cooks from the team “Cheongryong Goes” of the Second Marine Division perform the first competition task.


In the afternoon, the second task, “special cooking competition, a sweet rain in the military service” followed. In this competition, the cooks prepared special dishes preferred by soldiers. Creative dishes based on various ideas again stimulated the eyes, nose and mouth.


After much consideration, the judges reached a conclusion in a situation where ranking was extremely difficult. The “Boramae Dining Team” of the Air Force Air Defense Control Command received the Defense Minister award. The “Maengho Surasang Team” of the Capital Mechanized Infantry Division was presented with awards from the Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the “Culinary Dragons Team” of USFK 581st Field Supply Company received awards from the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries. Other teams received awards from the chiefs of staff of military branches.


Before the competition, hosts Cho Woo-jong and Lee Mi-yeop held an event to support the participating cooks. Soldiers in the Defense Ministry’s military band played sweet songs to relax the military cooks and participants encouraged them with stories.


Vice Defense Minister Kim, Seon ho said at the competition, “Although they work behind the scenes, military cooks play a critical role in maintaining the combat strength and morale of troops. I hope this event will raise the pride of military cooks in all branches and help them create good memories.”


Gen. Paul LaCamera, Commander of US Forces Korea (USFK), said in a congratulatory remark read by Brigadier General Martin Keet on his behalf, “Think about the long journey you have taken to get here today. You are already fully equipped with the necessary capabilities.”



(P3) Soldiers of the Boramae Dining Team of Air Force Air Defense Control Command finish putting completed food on a dish.


The cooking competition has been held annually since 2019 to publicize the importance and activities of military cooks. It also aims to boost morale of military cooks and seek ways of improving military food. This event aligns with the Defense Ministry’s efforts to gradually increase basic food expenses so that the food preferred by soldiers is offered and quality ingredients are procured, and the Ministry’s medium-term plan to improve the military dining environment and cooking equipment.


The Defense Ministry said, “We will continue policy efforts to shift to a system to provide meals selected by soldiers, improve working conditions of cooking manpower, and contribute to the globalization of K-military food so that soldiers can be satisfied with meals.”


The Defense Ministry plans to prepare and distribute a “military meal cooking guide” listing the recipes of the competition to all cooking sites of the military.

 By Hyun-woo, Seo <>

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