Students in Palatine High School's culinary arts program had the opportunity to create unique meals during class Thursday, Oct. 5.
The students practiced for a competition called Cammo and Cooks where cooks are challenged to create meals using various pieces of military Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs. That competition is Wednesday, Oct. 18, at Harper College in Palatine.
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Serowka, an Illinois Army National Guard recruiter, brought the MREs the Palatine students used. He said it was interesting to see what the students came up with and how the groups worked together.
"It's great to see some of the groups really come together as a team," said Serowka. "Those teams are the ones that come up with some very creative dishes."
During the class, students were divided into teams. Each team was given a different MRE. Using that, as well as other minor ingredients from the kitchen, each team had to create a main dish, a dessert and a beverage.
Erika Varela, a culinary arts teacher at Palatine, said the students were not told what MRE they would get prior to the start of the challenge.
"I wanted it to be a surprise," Varela said. "I am excited to see what they can do with these."
Spc. Daniel Pelczarski, a cannon crew member with Battery C 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery, joined Serowka to teach the students about the MREs. After sampling the students' creations, he said the event was successful.
"It's interesting to see the creativity of these students," said Pelczarski. "MREs can be pretty basic."
Junior Cody Weller echoed Pelczarski's sentiment on how basic MREs can be.
"There isn't a lot of variety with these," he said. "That, and added to the time limit, makes this pretty difficult."
At the end, the students' dishes were judged by culinary students from Harper College. The top four students will be given the opportunity to compete at the Cammo and Cooks Challenge against cooks from Harper, as well as a team from the Illinois Army National Guard.
It will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Building A Student Center Lounge. Admission is free. The event is sponsored by the college's Hospitality Service Club and the Student Veterans Association.