Scott Event Center welcomes new head chef

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- East St. Louis native Armondo Lamar Sanders Sr., who once worked as a chef in the Army, returns to service for Scott Air Force Base—this time as the new head chef at the Scott Event Center. 

He joined the Army in November 2001 at the age of 18, where he served eight years as a culinary specialist. His primary responsibility was to prepare and serve food in the field or in garrison.

“The interaction I had with service members while serving my country as a culinary specialist motivated me to become a chef,” said Sanders.

“I started off young learning the basics on how to make soups and sauces from scratch and preparing baked goods. I had a great core of NCOs who taught me how to become a better cook.”

Sanders says he was born to cook. He grew up watching family members prepare meals and operate their own restaurants, and this encouraged him to follow in a similar path while experimenting and creating his own meals. Sanders comes from a long line chefs in his family—his uncle, Kevin Green, is one of the chefs who he admires the most. As his uncle progressed through his culinary journey, he always provided advice to Sanders whenever needed.

While in the service, Sanders was deployed to Iraq, Kuwait and South Korea, and Korea is where he said he really grew as a cook. 

“I learned a lot about Korean cuisines from the dishwashers who prepared their lunch, and I asked questions about ingredients and techniques that they were using,” said Sanders. “They taught me different styles of cutting, and how to blend different flavors. It gave me a lot of insight on how to cook Asian cuisine.”

Inspired to become even better, he traveled to Italy to take a cooking course. 

Eventually, Sanders left the Army to venture out to different jobs within the culinary field and pursued his education.
Sanders now works and goes to school full time. He attended L’École Culinaire, Southwestern Illinois College, and is currently attending McKendree University. He received his associates’ degree in Culinary Arts, Associates in Business Management, and is working on his bachelors in Marketing Communications.

Graduating from culinary school was one Sanders’ long-term goals in life. His new long-term goal is to have his own line of food trucks.

Until then, he continues to serve the U.S. military as a chef at the Scott Event Center. 

Eric Reed, 375th Force Support Squadron Scott Event Center manager, said, “I decided Armondo would be a good fit for the Scott Event Center when his answers during his interview were calm and collected. I could tell that he would easily be able to handle the challenges that would arise here, and that he would face each day with confidence and composure.”

Sanders has added menu items such as a catfish Po’Boy and plans to add rotating scratch soups to the lunch menu. Additionally, he has been working on new menu items for the catered events as well. Guests of the Scott Event Center should be seeing some new menus and ideas coming out in the future.

“Armondo has made many positive changes since he started working here,” said Reed. “He has reorganized the coolers and storage areas to create better flow, and he brings a new, fresh set of ideas for menu items. Armondo works very well with the rest of the staff. He has quickly become a trusted leader and a strong motivator for our staff here.”

Overall, Sanders said he enjoys the interaction with the service members, and says feeding them again has been a great experience.