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Begun in 2003, first the Military Hospitality Alliance, a sister organization to IFSEA, and now the Veteran's Support Network, have held two annual competitions - the Military Culinary Competition and the Enlisted Aide of the Year Award.  Having skipped one year in transition, in 2017 IFSEA joined VSN in hosting the 14th culinary competition, held outside Marine Barracks and the 15th Enlisted Aide of the Year Award, held as part of a USO Salute to Military Chefs dinner at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, VA.

Since 2013, VSN has held food service certification classes for homeless veterans, at no cost to them.  Funds raised through VSN and IFSEA will allow us to take those classes to cities where IFSEA has a concentration of members, who may take this on as their annual charity event.

certification classes for homeless veterans

In 2013, Ed Manley was presented with an idea to take homeless veterans, put them in a restaurant employing only such people, so they could be trained to get jobs in the industry.  Ed did not think customers would go to a restaurant run by homeless people, but had just taught 19 Navy chefs at Camp David, and thought, what if we gave homeless vets the same training and certifications that the president's staff had, wouldn't that give them a new lease on life. 

Networking with local homeless shelters, such as U. S. Vets, Veteran's Village (Las Vegas), the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, we find veterans who have, for a wide array of reasons, found their lives turned upside down, with seemingly no way out.  Many provide them with "fish" (food, clothing, housing) which lasts for a day.  We are the ONLY organization we know of, that provides them a "fishing rod" (education, resume building certifications, confidence, hope, belief) so they can catch their own fish.  We then help them to find sustainable jobs befitting their military experience and certifications earned. 

If you want to help, contact Ed Manley at 561-929-4765 and just help us set up the classes, or help us with funds - $300 will pay the hard expenses of one veteran (exam fees, pins and patches, graduation luncheon, trainer's travel expenses, etc.).

2017 Culinary Competition

2016 Culinary Competition, Tropicana Las Vegas

Homeless Vets Day 1

Homeless Veterans on Class Day 1

Vets at Graduation

The Same Vets at Graduation Luncheon at Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

Enlisted Aide of the year award

In 2003, Senior Chief Martin Mongiello suggested that Ed Manley and Mary Starkey of the Starkey Institute of Household Management, meet, as he knew they would come up with SOMETHING.  Mary suggested an award for the best enlisted aides in each service, introduced Ed to CMSgts "Doc" Murdoch and Pat Moore, who put a joint service team together to develop the award criteria, Pat introduced Ed to Elaine Rogers, President of the world's largest USO, which held the Chef's dinner, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Each service submits their best E. A., those people go to the Ritz for an interview board consisting of a retired 3 or 4 star officer, the spouse of a 3 or 4 star officer, and service representatives.  It is a BIG deal in the career of each of the 5 finalists, from which the Armed Forces Enlisted Aide of the Year is chosen.  The award is presented at the USO Salute to Military Chefs dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City.  The WWE presents the winner with a WWE Championship Ring and a huge WWE Title (aka belt) in a shadow box, which rotates to the service Chief's office at the Pentagon for the following year.  The winner receives $1000 from VSN and the others receive $500 each.  Originally hosted by the Military Hospitality Alliance, VSN (a 501(c)(3) charity corporation and IFSEA are now the sponsors.

At the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City

2017 Enlisted Aide of the Year MSgt Scott Strippoli, flanked by (l-r) MGySgt Jesse Camacho, Hobart's Dick Hynes, Dave Zander, Chef Robert Irvine, Ecolab's Jack Kleckner, Ed Manley. At the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City.

Military Culinary Competition

Military Culinary Competition

EAOY Winner 2016

Enlisted Aide Award

Seeing some very successful military culinary competitions being held at bases such as Fort Lee, we thought it would be a great benefit to the military chefs if we held a competition in the public view, so civilians could see the talent possessed by military chefs.  Originally sponsored by the Military Hospitality Alliance, the competition is now co-sponsored by VSN and IFSEA.

In 2002 and 2003, the competition was held in the cow barns (minus the cows) at the Timonium Fairgrounds, as part of the Maryland Restaurant Association trade show.  You would have loved to see the vendors eyes pop wide open when General Jumper, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, visited our first competition and walked around the show.  The third year they moved to the Baltimore Convention Center where costs got us kicked out, so we skipped a year.    MGySgt Jesse Camacho arrived at Marine Barracks and the Commandant, General and Mrs. Conway, fully embraced the thought of a competition outside their door.  In 2007, we joined the Barracks Row Main Street Fall Festival, which draws about 10,000 people to view our competition at the famous 8th and I Barracks.   Spending 2016 at the Tropicana Resort in Las Vegas, with Chef Robert Irvine, we returned to Barracks Row in 2017.  We typically give out $7,000 in prize money, though we had to reduce it in 2017, but expect to raise it back in 2018.  For the first time, in 2017, IFSEA student branches were allowed to compete, and SUNY Delhi and the U. of Maryland, Eastern Shore competed, with SUNY beating all 14 teams in round 1.  Due to a lack of teams signing up, the 2019 competition was cancelled and most likely this competition no longer serves a need.  Many of the best competitors got their start at our competition. 


Resurrecting a successful program from the past, for companies that would like to have our 117 year old association present them with the IFSEA Gold Seal, representing their quality of product, service and professionalism. In the past the interest was for military business, so we sent out active duty military personnel. We will still do that, as available, but supplementing with retired military and civilians with excellent credentials. Like our culinary competition, the winners feel best when they have great respect for those who judged them; thus we are picky with who is on our team. We’d love to have you apply. You must be an IFSEA member to apply.


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