Military meal cooking activity is ready to eat

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published October 20, 2017

 Lincoln High School senior Jashiney Knight, left, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Collier talk about the meals ready  to eat (MRE) competition  Oct. 13 at the Lincoln Career and Technology Mark A. Kedzior Center on the grounds of Lincoln High School.

Lincoln High School senior Jashiney Knight, left, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Collier talk about the meals ready to eat (MRE) competition Oct. 13 at the Lincoln Career and Technology Mark A. Kedzior Center on the grounds of Lincoln High School.

Photo by Maria Allard

WARREN — Something was cooking inside the Lincoln Career and Technology Mark A. Kedzior Center on the grounds of Lincoln High School the morning of Oct. 13.

It was time for the third annual meals ready to eat (MRE) competition, in which students in the Southwest Macomb Technical Education Consortium culinary arts program participated. SMTEC offers a number of vocational courses and is open to students who attend Lincoln, Center Line, Warren Woods and Fitzgerald high schools.

MREs are prepackaged food rations for the United States armed forces and usually include an entrée, a side dish, a cracker or bread, a dessert, a beverage and a flameless ration heater. At the competition earlier this month, students worked in groups to prepare meals from the prepackaged foods. The goal of the competition was to apply what the students have learned in the culinary arts course and also to show members of the armed forces how much their service is appreciated.

“Six thousand calories is what they need to survive on,” culinary arts instructor and chef Ramon Herrera said of the MREs. “There is a chemical that reacts with the water. It heats up the package to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which is boiling.”

Several members of the armed forces attended the event to taste the meals. The SMTEC menu included chicken pesto, veggie burgers, jambalaya, chili and breakfast items. All-purpose flour, jalapeños, tomatoes and peppers were available, too, in an effort to enhance the meals. The budding chefs also were encouraged to use a number of seasonings, including soy sauce and chopped garlic.

“With all these items, I want them to experiment with flavoring, culture and seasonings. I will be coaching them on flavors and seasonings,” Herrera said. “The students are training to think on their feet. Not everything is going to be perfect. This is what makes it challenging.”

Herrera added that the activity gave the students the opportunity to practice safety, sanitation, ethnicity and culture.

LHS senior Ricardo “Rio” Trice and his group made a breakfast MRE from muffins, crackers, eggs, bacon, cheese, sausage, onions and “a hint of hot sauce.” U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Collier was one of the armed forces members who participated in the taste testing.

“This is really nice,” Collier said. “Everybody is coming together, getting creative and learning how to cook.”