Cooking for hundreds of troops might seem like a far cry from being a chef in a commercial restaurant, but some veterans have used their service skills to get to the top table as civilians.
Chef Brian Hinshaw
After enlisting in 1982 to pay for his education, Brian Hinshaw found himself in a team of cooks who fed his MASH unit of first responders around the clock. Now he puts what he learned in the Army to use leading 63 corporate chefs for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. “Being flexible and making it work, no matter what was thrown at you in the field, helps navigate today’s challenges,” he told AARP Veteran Report.
He recently outlined his culinary philosophy to Columbus Monthly: “In the military, there’s only one way to do something, and it’s the Army way. And that’s how master chefs work. For instance, to master something like salmon, you butcher 50 cases of whole salmon until you’re operating on instinct, and it’s perfect.”
Chef Jason Talcott
Jason Talcott enlisted in the Army in 1990 and now holds the rank of command sergeant major in the Army Reserves. During his military career, he has been it all, as a senior manager overseeing a food program supporting 2,250 soldiers and as a culinary instructor teaching more than 1,400 soldiers annually. He was executive chef to Pentagon chiefs William Cohen and Donald Rumsfeld, feeding members of Congress and foreign leaders.
As a civilian, he’s worked for hotels, restaurants, country clubs, a university and a ski resort. He recently offered on LinkedIn “a few notes from a citizen soldier,” advising veterans: “To be a great leader, you have to be a great learner … stay curious and ask questions.”