Airman selected to attend culinary forum for top US military chefs

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Alexandra Ayub, a 90th Force Support Squadron missile chef, won the Arthur J. Myers Food Service Excellence Award for the Western Hemisphere earlier this year.

As a result, she’s now been selected to represent the Air Force at the Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California, from July 30 to Aug. 6.

Ayub, who’s also a 90th Missile Wing ceremonial guardsman, earned the award after she received dozens of positive comment cards lauding her efforts as a chef in the wing’s missile complex, including her performance as a chef, attitude, personality and professionalism.

The Air Force-level award is given to two junior enlisted Airmen who’ve made a significant and positive contribution to the food services career field.

One missileer who frequents the missile alert facility (MAF) where she usually works said her quality as an Airman and a chef goes beyond simply cooking food well.

“She’s very enthusiastic and very flexible to us as a capsule crew, and I’m sure it’s the same for the people upstairs,” said 1st Lt. David Barnhart, a 320th Missile Squadron missile combat crew commander, who spends most of his time underground in a launch control center while deployed to the missile complex.

Ayub prepared food outside of normal mealtime hours to ensure Airmen in the complex were able to do their duty, showing her dedication to her role as chief of morale, he said.

“When there’s an emergency out in the field, and we need an emergency crew to come out, they haven’t eaten,” Ayub said. “It could be 10 o’clock at night and our facility manager can knock on our door and say, ‘There’s a crew coming in. Can they put in an order?’ and I’m more than happy to get up and cook for them because it’s actually them out there doing the work and maintaining our missile field.”

Ayub said she hopes to build up her teammates and make their deployments to the field like a home away from home.

“I put a lot of personality into my work,” she said. “I do care what goes into my team’s body. If they don’t eat well, or I don’t cook it well, or they don’t enjoy it, it brings down the morale of the MAF.”

She attributes her skills and drive partially to her upbringing and marriage.

“I progressively started learning to cook, and I want that childhood feeling to be felt by other people when they eat my food, so I provide three nutritious, healthy meals a day,” she said.

Ayub married her technical school sweetheart, Airman 1st Class Ozzie Galvan, a 90th Force Support Squadron fitness specialist who’s currently deployed overseas, and the couple began a long-running cooking competition, she said.

Galvan won a culinary excellence award in technical school, beating out Ayub. Now, she said, she has her Air Force-level award to hold over him until he can swing the pendulum back his way.

The upcoming armed forces culinary forum brings together chefs from across the Defense Department for higher-level training and culinary education.

“I can’t wait to do it. I’m hungry for more -- pun intended,” she said. “I’ll get with all these other service members from different military branches, and we get to learn things from one another. Not only that, we get to learn from master chefs from all over the world.”

When she returns from the forum, Ayub will spread the knowledge she receives to other chefs in her squadron and make her whole unit better, she said.

“It is a once in a lifetime experience. To taste and see how the other branches are. It’s going to be very uplifting for my spirits, and I’ll be able to bring it back to show what I’ve learned,” she said. “This is an experience for all of us chefs. If I can run that down the line with other chefs, our morale will go through the roof and we’ll have a happy and safer field.”

This experience is not the end for Ayub’s professional development, she said. While this is the highlight of her burgeoning career thus far, she will continue to better herself.

“I know I can be the best, so I know I need to get better,” she said. “I’m going to fly high.”