Civilian and Armed Services Chefs Join Forces to Support Military Members and Their Families

Washington, D.C. culinary stars and military chefs participated in Blue Star Families’ Fifth Anniversary event
Staff Writer

Tory Pratt

Braised beef cheeks by chef Bryan Voltaggio and FS1 Kevin Saiyasak.

Blue Star Families – a national, nonprofit network by and for military families from all ranks and branches of the military, provides service members and their families with vital education and employment programs. On February 24, they celebrated their fifth anniversary at a gala event at the stately U.S. Chamber of Commerce building. Held in the elegant Hall of Flags, the ballroom was abuzz with the sound of friendly conversation and happy congratulations as military personnel and their families beamed with pride and acknowledged the hard-won victories they experienced during their transition from service to full employment.

Blue Star Families’ Fifth Anniversary Event (Slideshow)

Many of the military guests wore their dress uniforms and made for elegant figures as they mingled with more than 150 influential United States business and military leaders, members of Congress, Blue Star military, families, and civilian members, along with a host of V.I.P. attendees, including T.V. journalist and author, Bob Woodruff, who was the emcee for the evening.

Bob Woodruff’s compelling personal history of recovery from wounds suffered while serving in Iraq, and his stirring remarks during his open, were a fitting segue to a special tribute to First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden for their work with military families and their nationwide initiative, Joining Forces. In a unique collaboration that included celebrity chefs and active military chefs from the five armed services branches, the evening’s tasting menu included dishes inspired by the chefs’ backgrounds and cultural influences, and those chefs were: 

Chef Cathal Armstrong, paired with CS1 Bradley Fenton [Navy]
Chef Jeff Buben, paired with CS2 Frida Karani [Navy]
Chef David Guas, paired with CS1 Ian Brown [Navy]
Chef Bryan Voltaggio, paired with FS1 Kevin Saiyasak [Coast Guard]
Chef Nate Waugaman, paired with Senior Chief, Chef Wes Tavares [Navy]
Chef Robert Wiedmaier, paired with TSgt Mike Leo [Air Force]
Dessert prepared by Rebecca Clerget, pastry chef, Dog Tag Bakery

Guests were treated to a diverse menu that offered delicious and inventive dishes and ended on a sweet note, thanks to Dog Tag Bakery’s melt-in-your-mouth apple pie. Unlike most baked goods, however, the treats from Dog Tag Bakery do more than add to your waistline – they support the bakery’s unique business training and certification program run in conjunction with Georgetown University’s Center for Continuing & Professional Education (CCPE). Dog Tag Inc., a D.C. non-profit offers entrepreneur education, training, and real life work experiences to “newly-transitioned veterans with disabilities.” This program gives them the leadership and management training they need to be competitive and successful in their business careers. Buy a Blue Star Apple Pie in the bakery through the end of March and the proceeds go directly to Blue Star Families; it’s the deliciously patriotic thing to do.

Salmon Napoleon – Prepared by chefs Robert Wiedmaier and TSgt Mike Leo [Air Force] 

Summer Whitford

Wild Atlantic salmon sugar and salt cured and layered with crème fraîche between thin crisp sheets of dough and topped with caviar.

Kinilaw na Madia – Prepared by chefs Cathal Armstrong and CS1 Bradley Fenton [Navy]

Summer Whitford

Filipino-style ceviche prepared with fresh raw Madia fish marinated in freshly squeezed orange and lime juice with cilantro, Serrano chili, onion, and ginger.

Highlights of the Blue Star Families’ Fifth Anniversary Event

Summer Whitford is the D.C. City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal and the DC Wine Examiner. You can follow her on Twitter @FoodandWineDiva.

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