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A member of the US Air Force dices vegetables during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

A member of the US Air Force dices vegetables during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

A member of the US Air Force dices vegetables during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

A member of the US Air Force dices vegetables during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

Tim Sullivan, who has been with the Coast Guard for 16 years, checks on the chicken during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015.

Tim Sullivan, who has been with the Coast Guard for 16 years, checks on the chicken during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

Flags decorate the Coast Guard samples during the Military Chefs Cook on June 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

Flags decorate the Coast Guard samples during the Military Chefs Cook on June 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

Dustin Webb, who served 15 years in the Coast Guard, puts the finishes touches on samples during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015, in Washington, DC.

Dustin Webb, who served 15 years in the Coast Guard, puts the finishes touches on samples during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015, in Washington, DC. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

Ret. Col. Jamie Manker - with the Air Force - cooks chicken during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015.

Ret. Col. Jamie Manker - with the Air Force - cooks chicken during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

The US Army's chicken sample cooks on the grill during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015.

The US Army's chicken sample cooks on the grill during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

Four military services were represented at the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015: The US Army, the US Navy, the US Air Force, and the US Coast Guard.

Four military services were represented at the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015: The US Army, the US Navy, the US Air Force, and the US Coast Guard. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

Two women under the US Air Force tent dole out samples during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015.

Two women under the US Air Force tent dole out samples during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

A woman under the US Navy tent doles out samples during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

A woman under the US Navy tent doles out samples during the Military Chefs Cook-Off on June 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON — The smells of cooking drifted up and down Pennsylvania Ave. Saturday as military chefs diced, sliced and minced the morning hours away in preparation for the 23rd annual Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle.

Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard chefs manned four tents for their own Military Chefs Cook-off. For a $5 donation to the USO, visitors can sample the fare from each represented military service (the Marines weren't taking part), and vote for the best. Saturday, the chefs were preparing chicken recipes; Sunday, it will be pork.

“We’re here to support the USO and give back to those who always support us," said Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Chad Adams. "We’re here to rock it out, and this year the Navy’s not going to win.”

The Coast Guard team prepared Jerk Chicken Mango, made with chicken thighs, Jamaican jerk seasonings dry rub, and mango chutney.

“You have spicy, a lot of sweet, a little bit of heat,” Adams said. “So bon appétit.”

The Air Force also went sweet and hot, with grilled chicken with a blackberry barbecue sauce, a mixed medley of vegetables and a cilantro/lime/jalapeno sauce.

“I’m absolutely excited to be here," said retired Air Force Col. Jamie Manker, the chief financial officer of the Veterans Benefits Administration. "Any day cooking is a great day in my book."

“I don’t think we’ll win, I know we’ll win,” Manker said.

The Navy was cooking traditional barbecue chicken.

“Not too flat, not too spicy,” said Keith Evans. Everything was made from scratch. Evans is retired Army, but was representing his active-duty Navy son.

Team Army was cooking a sweet and spicy chicken dish with roasted red potatoes on the side.

“We’re working well together as a team and making sure the food is delicious,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kristen McPhee, who is stationed at Fort Belvoir.

“It’s a mustard-based sauce," said Army veteran Raphel Watkins. "I ended up putting a little too much spice in it, and my teammates helped me get it just right. So now I think we have the best sauce of the day."

Watkins is currently in the culinary arts program at Stratford University, one of the sponsors of the cook off.

“Go Army,” Watkins said with a smile and a thumbs-up.

The results will be in Sunday night.

Email: tibbetts.meredith@stripes.com Twitter: mjtibbs

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