The Art of the Table: An Inside Look at the Fort Bliss Cooking Club

WTU Force Structure Fort Bliss WTB cooking club Soldiers Marta Vazquez and Hyunjun Yoo, along with Chef Damian Donaldson, prepare lunch for the WTB Bible study (photo courtesy of the Fort Bliss Adaptive Reconditioning Program).

By Blaire Edgerton, Warrior Care and Transition

Adaptive reconditioning activities play an essential role in aiding the care and recovery of Soldiers during their time in Warrior Transition Battalions as well as after their transition back to the force or to civilian life.

While at the WTB, a Soldier is strengthened both physically and emotionally through participating in a series of activities that relate to his or her own interest and ability. These activities, ranging from physical training exercises to therapeutic and recreational programs, are designed to encompass physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of a Soldier’s recovery.

By connecting to the core components of a Soldier’s individualized Comprehensive Transition Plan, adaptive reconditioning reduces stress, increases self-confidence and independence, builds relationships with others and allows Soldiers to learn new life skills to assist with their transition, among other benefits.

In light of these benefits, the WTB at Fort Bliss established its first-ever cooking club in March of 2014. The club was founded in part by Soldiers Hyunjun Yoo and Marta Vazquez and aimed to support their career, spiritual and social CTP domains.

Members of the club worked together to prepare meals for the WTB Bible Study under the guidance of Chef Damian Donaldson.

Ultimately, it was Yoo and Vazquez that drove the success of the program, pushing their teammates to broaden their perspectives on cooking and employ skills such as planning, safety, budgeting and multi-tasking.

In June, Yoo’s dream of becoming a chef was realized when he graduated from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco. Among his many options moving forward are the possibilities of serving as a chef in the kitchen of a U.S. embassy in San Francisco or opening his own restaurant.

Vazquez, inspired by Yoo’s success, recently enrolled at the Culinary Arts School at the Art Institute of Phoenix and will begin classes this summer.