Amid the military mini-season finale of “Chopped: Military Salute,” a spinoff of Food Network’s classic high-pressure competition show, one competitor likely felt right at home working against the clock.
The Army’s representative in the finale, Sgt. 1st. Class Brian Colvin, a former explosive ordnance disposal technician, sported a prominent reminder of his previous job — a headband adorned with the Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal badge, which is awarded to troops who have spent nearly 10 years in a bomb disposal role.
Colvin and three counterparts from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps each deployed explosive flavors to win branch-specific competitions that qualified them for Tuesday’s final round. The four active duty chefs, who all currently serve as culinary instructors or enlisted aides to senior leaders, competed as a team against individual current and former “Chopped” judges.
Competitors on “Chopped” craft improvised exquisite dishes against a running clock from a basket of surprise ingredients.
Their first mission was the appetizer round against celebrity chef Amanda Freitag, using a mishmash of supplies that included a flag-shaped cake topped with fruit. Freitag defeated the troops after throwing together a spring duck with strawberry glaze served with crispy baby artichokes atop a potato and yampee purée.
However, the service members prevailed in the main course of surf and turf — go figure. They also had a lucky break when their opponent, Chef Eric Adjepong, suffered a set back after his cooking station blew up (perhaps because he isn’t a bomb technician) and caught fire, distracting him just enough that his durian mochi became “a little bit gelatinous and melted,” the judges said.
The dessert round against Tiffani Faison, an Army brat and long-time “Chopped” judge, was little more than mop-up duty for the “military task force,” as the judges kept calling them. The chaotic conclusion’s ingredients included apple pie with ice cream, starfruit, powdered eggs and hot dogs.
Colvin described the powdered eggs as “an Army favorite.” We at the Military Times Observation Post believe that all Americans are entitled to express their own opinions — members of our staff have fought to protect this very freedom. We also want to express our opinion: Colvin’s opinion on powdered eggs is bad and wrong.
According to his official bio, which was provided to Military Times after publication, Colvin joined the National Guard in 2004, completing Basic Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and medical training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He moved on to active duty service in 2006, and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne Division as a field medic. From there, he went on to attend Explosive Ordnance Disposal School at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Later, he went on to serve as a recruiter in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area, and most recently, he became the first EOD technician selected to serve as an enlisted aid; a role he currently serves in at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. His military education includes the Basic Leaders Course, the Advanced Leaders Course, and the Senior Leaders Course.
Colvin’s awards, according to his bio, include the following: the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaves; Army Achievement Medal, with 5 oak leaves; Army Good Conduct Medal, with 4 knots; the National Defense Service Medal; the Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Service Medal; the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal; Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Meritorious Unit Citation; Basic Recruiting Badge; Gold Recruiting Badge; Combat Medic Badge; Expert Field Medic Badge; Basic EOD Badge; and the Senior EOD Badge.
As for the “Military Salute” edition of “Chopped,” First Lady Jill Biden also made an appearance, and invited the military chefs to cook for her family over the upcoming July 4 holiday.
But she didn’t eat any of the powdered egg-based dishes.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 3:30 p.m. with additional information from Sgt. 1st Class Brian Colvin’s service record.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.