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Contestants at the second annual MRE Cook-off, hosted by the National Museum of the Marine Corps, compete to see who can make the most delicious meal with Meals Ready to Eat on Feb. 1, 2014. This year’s contest is Feb. 7 and openings are still available.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Cameron Storm

Pack your antacid: time for the third annual MRE cookoff

29 Jan 2015 | Denny Hostetter Marine Corps Base Quantico

Most everyone has heard of the “Iron Chef,” and many are also aware that it takes a cast iron stomach to enjoy MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, the military’s field rations). The National Museum of the Marine Corps will pit would-be iron chefs against the infamous MREs in the third annual MRE Cookoff, Feb. 7 at noon.

The challenge is simple: make the tastiest meal (or at least the most palatable) out of two MRE packs “blindly” pulled from a box and whatever ingredients each chef can fit into his or her cargo pocket” (the big pocket on the trousers of field uniforms, about the equivalent of a quart-size plastic bag). With a cooktop fueled by a Sterno can, contestants will work their magic, hoping to be awarded the coveted Golden Canteen Cup.

“We started this cookoff as a way to attract visitors to the museum during our slower winter months, but we had no idea how popular it would become. Last year we had eight contestants and some really creative MRE concoctions, not to mention a good-sized audience all interested in tasting those concoctions,” Michele Flynn, NMMC visitor services chief, said.

The competition will begin at noon on the Museum’s second floor outside the Devil Dog Diner. There’s still time to sign up as a competitor by contacting Flynn at This year’s competition will be judged by local chefs and other local “celebrities.”

Everyone is invited to join in the culinary fun, either as a competitor or spectator. If the awesome smells induce hunger, there are plenty of tasty meals in the museum’s diner and Tun Tavern, too.

Marine Corps Base Quantico