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School Age kitchen wins PACAF-wide competition
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Mildred Halili holds her kitchen's banner outside her kitchen at the School Age Program building June 24, 2011, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. In her first year of working at Yokota, Halili put her skills to the test in a Pacific Air Force-wide competition and won. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John D. Partlow)
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School Age kitchen wins PACAF-wide competition

Posted 9/30/2011   Updated 9/30/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman John D. Partlow
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/30/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Some people know that in the back of the School Age Program sits a kitchen where Mildred Halili cooks for children. What people probably don't know is that she and Geraldine McNeill are both winners of the 2011 Pacific Air Forces' Top Kitchen competition.

"I didn't expect to win," said Mildred Halili, 374th Force Support Squadron School Age Program cook and the winner of Top Kitchen. "I just did my job to the best of my abilities."

The competition, designed as training for Child/Youth Program cooks and service staffs, consists of three phases. Each phase covers a variety of activities, games and cooking conundrums for competitors to test their knowledge and skills of cooking and preparing meals. Recipes were made by the competitors and were designed to feed several children. Meal price and the Food and Drug Administration ratings were some of the few areas graded on.

"Kudos goes out to PACAF for thinking outside the box," said Cathy Catling, 374th FSS Airman and family services flight chief. "They facilitated a training program that was fun, and it focused on a sorely neglected part of our flight which is the food program."

"I've never done anything like this before," said Geraldine McNeill, the training and curriculum specialist for Millie's Café. "It was a great experience."

Halili and McNeill, team name Millie's Café, took home first prize, followed by Team Misawa from Misawa Air Base, Japan, and Denali Delights from Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Three teams from Yokota participated in the event.

Halili cooks for children from ages 5-11 in the School Age Program The first-place prize consists of $3,000 to spend on her kitchen along with a Top Kitchen hat and jacket, a set of kitchen knives and the PACAF Top Kitchen banner for her kitchen.

"Winning the award feels great," said Halili. "It's an accomplishment for me to get this award on my first year of working here."

Halili's partner in the competition shared her enthusiasm.

"I was ecstatic when I learned that we won," said McNeill.

As extra credit, participants made original recipes to turn in, and Halili's fruit pizza submission received the maximum amount of points it could receive, making it a delectable delicacy.

"I wouldn't have won without my team, especially Geraldine McNeill and Cathy Catling," said Halili. "It was a total team effort."

While this year's competition is over, Halili isn't content on sitting back and wants to start all over again.

"I'm looking forward to next year," said Halili. "I can't wait to see what challenges they throw my way."

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