Unit: 2D MLG
Length of Service: 2 1/2 Years
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
What do you enjoy most about cooking?
“I enjoy waking up every morning and being able to be in a kitchen. It takes me back to when I was a kid. I’ve been in a kitchen for as long as I can remember. It’s also nice to see how you can brighten a Marine’s day with food. That’s my whole job, supporting the warfighter. It’s what I’m all about.”
What influenced you to become a cook?
“I cooked before the Marine Corps. One of my first jobs was in a Turkish restaurant a family owned. It seemed like I was always in the kitchen. As far as the Marine Corps, actually, at one point, I weighed 380 lbs. I didn’t really see much into the future. My dad was in Vietnam and he’d always had that dream for me but I didn’t see it. It took me three attempts to enlist but I did it. I lost almost 175 pounds. It was really interesting how eating certain food helps you lose weight and eating other foods helps you gain weight. It’s cool to find that balance.”
What’s your favorite type of dish?
“I’d like to mention the dish I brought in today, the Mojo Flank Steak. I like it because it’s a year round food. You make it with orange and lime juice so it gives you an uplifting kind of feeling when you’re cooking it from the scents. It reminds me of summer.”
What’s one thing people should have in their kitchens?
“Gloves. You’re always going to make some sort of mess. You want a clean kitchen, we always say clean as you go. With gloves, you can keep clean. Also, it’s important to swap them out as you move along in cooking so you aren’t cross contaminating.”
Do you have any advice for amateur chefs?
“Keep in mind that we eat with our eyes not our stomachs. Presentation is important. One thing I’ve noticed feeding Marines is they like bright colors. Peppers and fresh vegetables are a hit. Show people something and make it colorful and fun. Always keep passionate about what you are cooking.”
What do you like most about the recipe you’re providing?
“It’s an interesting dish. A lot of people don’t know how to cut a flank steak properly. You want to cut it at an angle with the grain. If you cut against the grain the meat will be ratty and torn up. It’s a big cut of meat. Also, it’s healthier than a lot of other beef.
Mojo Flank Steak
2 lbs flank steak
1 yellow onion cut into ¼” slices
½ red pepper, julienned
½ green pepper, julienned
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Teaspoon kosher salt
¾ tsp black pepper
Fresh juice of one orange
Fresh juice of two limes
1/8 cup fresh minced garlic
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
¼ cup oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Yields 4 servings
1) Combine ¼ cup of oil, cumin, cayenne pepper, celery salty, pepper, salt, orange juice, lime juice, garlic and cilantro. Blend together with immersion blender.
2) Place steaks in roasting pan, coating all sides. Marinate two hours.
3) Remove steaks from marinade, reserve marinade for use in step 5 and discard excess.
4) Place ¼ cup oil in tilt skillets, searing steaks at 400 degrees for 2 to 3 minutes until browned on both sides.
5) Toss peppers and onions in reserved marinade. Place on sprayed roasting pan and top with steaks. Roast the steaks and vegetables in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes or until done. Minimum internal temperature should read 145 for 15 seconds.
6) Slice the steak on a slight bias cut, ¼ inch, with a slicing knife.