USO Military Chef Cook-off | Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle

USO Military Chef Cook-off


Through USO-Metro’s partnership with Giant, the Military Chef Cook-Off has become a BBQ Battle staple, and this year is no different. USO-Metro is pleased to welcome Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine as our host of the 2021 Military Chef Cook-Off as part of the Giant® National Capital BBQ Battle Virtual Experience, running through the month of June. The Military Chef Cook-Off has representatives from each branch of service facing off to determine who can prepare the best BBQ Brisket, and YOU, the fans, will determine the winner! Read about each one of our chefs below and check out their pictures and recipes, then try the recipe for yourself and cast your vote for your favorite. This year’s winner will be announced on July 1, 2021!

This Year’s Winners of the 2021 USO Military Chef Cook-Off

First Place: Sgt. Alexander Jones (Marines)
Second Place: CS1 Danielle Hughes (Coast Guard)
Third Place: TSgt Jarrid L. McIntyre (Air Force)

Vote for your Favorite Team


SFC Luis E. Irizarry

My name is Luis E. Irizarry Rodriguez, born and raised in Puerto Rico. I have been married to my wife Aimee for 17 years, and together we have two beautiful children, Gabriella and Nicholas. I had my first opportunity to work as a cook in 2007 at a fine dining restaurant located in the southern region of Puerto Rico. I never thought I would start working in the gastronomy world. From then on, I’ve been in the culinary industry for about 14 years. Most of my experience comes from working with all kinds of seafood, octopus, conch, lobster, shrimp, oysters, and many others during that time. In 2009, I joined the United States Army as a Culinary Specialist, and my cooking career began to expand. I started incorporating what I had learned from Caribbean cuisine with all the different types of gastronomies worldwide.

In terms of BBQ, I’ve always been fascinated by everything that this culture encompasses within gastronomy. The Caribbean Native Indians created this unique cooking technique that was initially called barbacoa. Over time, it transcended to the north and transformed into the four most recognized American-classic barbecue styles that we know today: Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, and Texas. This fact sounds incredibly familiar to me, and it makes me feel more passionate about this art and drives me to learn as much as I can. I have now begun to venture into meat smoking techniques and am constantly practicing to perfect this craft. Please check out my food illustrations and recipes for the Smoked Brisket and Memphis-style BBQ sauce but with a Caribbean twist using Guava and Cilantro. Enjoy!

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CS2 Dion Lambert

My name is CS2 Lambert and I am from Porterville, California. I have been in the Navy for 5 years and am currently stationed at the Secretary of the Navy Executive Dining Facility at the Pentagon.

When I first joined the Navy, I admittedly never thought that I would work as a culinary specialist. However, after having the opportunity to go on a three month underway to Rota, Spain my entire outlook changed. It was here that I received extensive training and worked with a phenomenal team that I truly believe has made me a better and more disciplined chef, sailor, and man.

Having had this life changing experience and met some incredible people along the way, I feel that I have found my passion and calling. Watching my superiors host barbecue cookouts and the bonding experiences these were made me realize that this is where I belong and what I was meant to do.

I am humbled and very thankful to represent the Navy in this barbecue competition.

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Sgt. Alexander Jones

Born and raised in beautiful North Carolina, and a proud native of Gibsonville. Alexander’s family heritage is steeped in southern slow cooking, family gatherings, and barbecue. Alexander’s barbecue traditions have always been a part of the love and fellowship of his family. He embraced the passion of his family in Benson, North Carolina, in Eastern-Style Carolina Barbecue. Through his dedication and passion, less than a year after joining the Marines, Alexander stood out amongst his peers and was able to become the first Lance Corporal (E-3) in the history of the Marine Corps to be admitted into the prestigious Marine Aide Program. Throughout his career, Alexander has been recognized for outstanding leadership, motivation, and community engagement. A few of his accomplishments include 2018 Marine Military Chef of the Year, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal Recipient, and orchestrating donations to about 350 less fortunate families each year. Sgt Jones currently carries his heritage with him by utilizing a custom-built smoker that he brought with him from North Carolina. He faithfully smokes a variety of game and traditional meats, seafood, and vegetables. He emphatically takes pride in the magic that is produced from all that he has learned from low and slow smoking.


TSgt Jarrid L. McIntyre

Howdy y’all, my name is TSgt Jarrid L. McIntyre and I am a proud member of the US Air Force. I am currently stationed at Randolph AFB in San Antonio, Texas but have moved all over the world during my time in the military, and have just absolutely loved seeing everyone’s love for BBQ. I originally hail from the corn fields of South East Missouri on the banks of the Mississippi river in the great town of Cape Girardeau. Growing up I have so many memories of the family getting together for great BBQ’s. When I think of BBQ it makes me think of family, friends, and communities coming together for what is sure to be good food, good laughs, and good times. Now that I am older I have carried that spirit of bringing people together with BBQ everywhere I go by cooking for my troops, my family, and also cooking for my community. My neighbors and I get together every Friday, and we always have the best time and leave each other’s homes stuffed with some of the most delicious BBQ you’ve ever eaten. I have been in the Air Force for 12 years, and it has flown by quicker than I could have ever imagined. Food and cooking have been a part of my life, long before joining the military. As a child, I remember my momma always saying to me, “If you don’t like the food I’m fixing then you’re going to have to fix your own”. So I started to do just that. Now I wasn’t the best cook or griller at the time and I made a lot of charred jerky, but I loved the creativity and the thrill of grilling, and I kept at it till everyone in my house was begging me to grill dinner!! My life has always been about togetherness, friendship and laughter! Whether it was grilling burgers and hot dogs in 100 degree weather in Tucson, Arizonia or late night BBQ’s after work, while stationed in Incerlik Air Base, Turkey; there has always been food to share with friends and family. Everyone around me knows there is always an open seat at my dinner table and I’m proud to say they have taken advantage of that knowledge. Good food, and good people have always been the source of good times and memories throughout my life.

Good food is always a tool that is sure to bring people together. Even to this day when my neighbors smell the smoker turn on, they normally always pop in for a glass of sweet tea, and a plate, and I just love that. It’s been funny because everywhere I have lived my neighbors always love getting in the kitchen with me; preparing food, teaching each other new tricks, and most importantly just enjoying each other’s company. The thing that I have learned most through BBQing, and cooking in general is it’s a tool, a tool that can be used to make some of the best memories you’ll have from the sights, to the smells, the laughs, the triumphs, and the failures, it’s always a good time when you’re around the people who bring you joy.

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CS1 Danielle Hughes

CS1 Danielle Hughes was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She enlisted in the United States Coast Guard 9 years ago; she then spent her first 7 years of enlistment at sea in South Florida. Currently she is stationed in Washington D.C. at the Commandants Flag Mess located in Coast Guard Headquarters. BBQ and culinary in general have always been her passion; it runs deep in her veins stemming from her large Italian/Irish background. In 2020 Petty Officer Hughes and 11 other CG Culinary Specialists were selected to compete for the Coast Guard in the 45th annual Joint Culinary Training Exercise in Ft Lee, VA. For the first time in 14 years of competing, CS1 and her team took home the distinguished title of Armed Forces Culinary Team of the Year and she was named the Armed Forces Chef of the Year. Petty Officer Hughes is not the only chef in her family to have taken the stage in Ft Lee. Just 35 years’ prior her uncle, Duanne Scavicchio, US Army, also competed. CS1 is committed to her craft and her service. PO1 Hughes was also selected to and is a current member of the United States Army Culinary Arts Team (USACAT). Ultimately her goal is to pay it forward to the Coast Guard/Culinary program the way her mentors have considerably invested in her.

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