What's Cooking? with Featured Chef Sgt. Keny Lazo

Marine Wing Support Squadron 272,

Marine Corps Air Station New River

Length of Service: 3 1/2 years

Hometown: Mansfield, Texas

Note: Lazo was named the Food Service Specialist of the Year for the East Coast.

What do you like most about cooking?

“The smell. It smells good. I enjoy it. Cooking in the Marine Corps is a very underappreciated MOS. If I get one ‘thank you’ a day, it makes me happy.”

What influenced you to become a chef in the Marine Corps?

“I was open contract, so the Marine Corps told me, but it is what it is. My grandmother always told me that it doesn’t matter what type of job you have as long as it’s not dirty money. To be honest, I didn’t even know how to cook before the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps has taught me a lot.”

What is your favorite type of dish to make?

“Everything, but I love chicken. It doesn’t matter what kind of chicken. I just love chicken.”

What’s one thing every person should have in their kitchen?

“The heart to cook. If you don’t put heart into your product, you will never know if it tastes good or not.”

Who inspires you to cook?

“There’s really no one who cooks in my family, but I do have two Marines who inspire me, Master Sgt. Morris Mayfield III, and Gunnery Sgt. April Mayfield. When I got to the fleet, I got a phone call from Gunney Sgt. Mayfield asking me if I wanted to compete at a cooking competition in Fort Lee, Va. I won a bronze medal that year, and that kept me on track. I may not have wanted food service, but there is always something good. You can get something good out of it.”

What do you like most about the recipe you’re providing?

“There’s different ways you can make it. There’s chicken or it can be turkey. I like chicken just because it’s my favorite meat. I’m not really into beef or steak or anything else. I just love creamy food, and this recipe is creamy. It’s delicious.”

Chicken a la King

(Serves four)
2 lbs chicken  1/4 cup shortening or salad oil
3 3/4 cups water 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt (or salt to taste) 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or pepper to taste)
1/8 cup milk 1/8 cup peppers
5 ounces water 1 tablespoon pimentos
2 cups stock 
 1. Wash chicken thoroughly, drain well and remove excess fat. Place chicken in pot, add water, salt and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at 180 degrees until done.
 2. Remove chicken, strain stock and reserve for later use. Remove bay leaf and discard. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces.
3. In a separate pot, reconstitute milk, add to stock and mix thoroughly. Heat to a simmer but do not boil.
 4. Blend shortening or salad oil with flour. Use a wire whip to stir until smooth. Gradually add milk and stock mixture, stirring constantly. Simmer 10 minutes or until thickened.
 5. Add pepper, onions and celery. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until tender.
 6. Add cooked chicken, peppers and pimentos to sauce and heat to serving temperature.