Chopped Challenge: Laramie Students Get Taste of Military Meals, Careers
I don't know if you've ever had an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) - but they aren't exactly fine dining. But that's not to say they are horrible; MREs have their moments - I was particularly fond of the BBQ beef in my ROTC days. And, it's pretty fun ripping open the flameless heater and watching your stew or enchiladas heat up or scoring the occasional pack of cookies in your meal.
MREs are designed for quick meals for military members away from their mess hall, and though they have improved over the years (my grandpa calls the "new" MREs 5-star cuisine compared to his Vietnam rations), they aren't usually the first choice for cooking ingredients. So naturally, when I saw that Laramie High School's Career and Technical Education cooking class was crafting cuisine out of MREs, I had to learn more.
Laramie's MRE Chopped Challenge
Ms. Kallie Poncelow has run the MRE Chopped Challenge for her class every year for the last five years, typically around Armed Forces Week. When asked what the challenge was, Ms. Poncelow explained that,
"[The challenge] is a fun opportunity for students to apply what they have learned throughout the semester in a creative way using the MREs while also getting information about possible options after high school."
During the challenge, two National Guard members come to the high school with donated MREs for the students to use as cooking supplies. The Guard members then stick around to judge the resulting cuisine, akin to popular cooking shows.
This year, Guard representatives SFC Allred and SGT Mounts judged the competition. During the event, the National Guard members typically share opportunities for careers in the Guard while supporting a fun event for their local community.
The Winning Dish
Four classes went head-to-head at the MRE Chopped Challenge. Each team received their MREs and could supplement with three ingredients from the kitchen pantry to whip up their masterpieces.
The winning dish from this year's MRE Chopped challenge was a twice-baked beefy macaroni and cheese entree and an apple crumble upside-down cake made from an oatmeal cookie. I'd take those in an MRE any day!
For more information on Wyoming's National Guard, click here.
Meet the MRE Chopped Contestants