Chef Dirk Yeaton, the “Grill Sergeant” at the Murphy-Goode Winery in Northern California, visited the Stuttgart military community March 26 and 27 to prepare food for service members, civilians and their families, and share tips on cooking, and tasting and selecting wines.
The trip was organized by America’s Chefs, a nonprofit, public benefit corporation that brings famous and interesting chefs to military locations to provide entertainment, education and boost morale.
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation arranged several events for Yeaton to showcase his talents.
The visit began with an evening of barbecue and wine tasting at the Patch Community Club March 26. Having worked the grill all day, Yeaton spent the evening putting the finishing touches on ribs and pulled pork, and shared cooking tips. Also on hand were wine experts from Kendall Jackson, the parent company of the Murphy-Goode Winery. They provided samples of some of their wines and offered tips on tasting wine and pairing wine with food.
The next morning, Yeaton had breakfast with cooks at the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Dining Facility on Panzer Kaserne, and helped them prepare the lunch meal. While grilling steaks, chicken and ribs, Yeaton and the dining facility cooks shared their trade secrets and a few Army stories, as Yeaton is a U.S. Army veteran.
Yeaton enlisted in the Army in 1984 as a food service specialist for very simple reasons.
“I knew I wasn’t college material, I liked cooking, and I wanted to get out of Littleton, New Hampshire,” Yeaton said. “So I signed up with the only recruiter in town, and off I went to basic training.”
Yeaton served for several years at Fort Bragg, N.C., before leaving the service to pursue his passion of cooking.
“I really enjoyed the service, but it was really, at that time, a job like any other,” Yeaton said. “There was no war or any sort of conflict, so we just cooked at the base dining facility. What these service members are doing now, it’s pretty incredible. They sacrifice a lot, and I just want to give back a little.”
For Yeaton, giving back means more than just visiting with service members and cooking for them. His employer gives 50 cents from every bottle of its “Homefront Red” to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that assists U.S. military personnel and their families with financial assistance, as well as counseling and recovery support. Operation Homefront is a part of the Combined Federal Campaign.
Yeaton is not at all secretive about his recipes and shares them freely on the winery’s website. He is also glad to share his cooking techniques, tactics and procedures with service members who seemed thrilled to take advantage of the opportunity.
“You think you know what you are doing, but then you listen to a professional like him and learn something new,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Macias, a food service noncommissioned officer at the 1/10 SFG DFAC. “It was really cool of him to come do this, and we learned from the experience and enjoyed it.”
Yeaton’s visit culminated the evening of March 27 at the Kelley Club on Kelley Barracks. The focus was on how to make the best burger and pair it with a great wine. Yeaton was just as open with his recipes and wine tips as he was the previous evening.
“When I was younger I used to be very secretive about my recipes, but I learned that doesn’t really do me any good. It’s much better to share what I know with others,” Yeaton said.