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Airmen experience gourmet food, fine dining

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, left, works with his student and assistant, Tony Baja, to perfect the presentation of the roasted chicken cannelloni for the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Painter and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, left, works with his student and assistant, Tony Baja, to perfect the presentation of the roasted chicken cannelloni for the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Painter and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Joe Zamora, executive chef at the Club, cuts cheesecake before decorating each piece for the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner held at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Joe Zamora, executive chef at the Club, cuts cheesecake before decorating each piece for the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner held at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, impresses guests by using wine to create a fire while giving a demonstration at the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Painter and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, impresses guests by using wine to create a fire while giving a demonstration at the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Painter and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, displays and explains his presentation of the roasted chicken cannelloni during the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Painter and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, displays and explains his presentation of the roasted chicken cannelloni during the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Painter and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – A plate of black pepper calamari with spicy pomodoro sauce is ready to be served at the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – A plate of black pepper calamari with spicy pomodoro sauce is ready to be served at the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner at the Club Nov. 14. Guests paid $45 to experience a gourmet four course meal prepared by Chef Mark Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, and see a demonstration of how a few of the dishes were created. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Where there's smoke, there's fire. And typically when there's fire, it's not a good thing, but in Chef Mark Painter's case, the fire was an intentional part of his demonstration and his guests' dining pleasure.

Painter, certified executive chef and instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, prepared a gourmet meal for his guests right in front of them as a part of the Celebrity Guest Chef Dinner series at the Club Nov. 14.

Like so many other teens, Painter's first job was that of a dishwasher at the age of 15. Wearing a constantly wet apron was something he wasn't very fond of, so Painter asked to be a cook.

Being a cook wasn't enough, so Painter set out to be a chef.

"So I became a chef," he said. "I'm self-taught. I didn't go to a fancy culinary school, but I studied hard and I worked hard. I became an executive chef by the time I was 24 years old."

Painter was approached to become an instructor at Pikes Peak Community College, where he said he was a natural.

"I never thought about being a teacher. It just came naturally," he said. "Cooking is such a passion of mine that it makes it easy for me to explain to my students."

Not only does he educate students at PPCC, but Painter also hosts classes and does guest events. He was chosen for the event at the Club because of his expertise and experience.

"It's all about who you know," said Joe Zamora, executive chef at the Club. "And we know Chef Painter is amazing at what he does. He's very well known in the community."

Painter's experience helped him put together a mouth-watering menu for guests who paid $45 to enjoy some of the best gourmet food around.

"They can expect food from the heart," Painter said. "Beautiful food that is all homemade. I love food, I love cooking and I hope it shows in the meal."

It definitely showed. The first course kicked off with black pepper calamari with a spicy pomodoro sauce, followed by a Romano salad for the second course. The third course was roasted chicken cannelloni with homemade heirloom spinach pasta finished with marinara and asiago cream. Dessert was a toasted almond cheesecake with a Madagascar vanilla crème anglaise.

Each course was accompanied by a specially selected wine.

Even before each course was delivered, Roseanna Dailey said she knew how the food was going to taste based on its appearance. Dailey is retired Air Force and currently works in the bakery for Colorado Springs District 11.

"The presentation was great. His description was so perfect I tasted it before I ate it," Dailey said. "It was awesome - I could tell the flavors right away."

The experience and delicious food is what brings Dailey and her family and friends back to the Club for events like this one.

"This is the third celebrity chef we've come to," she stated. "We like to come to support the Club and the chefs. We really enjoy coming."

For more information about the Club and upcoming events, go to http://www.21fss.com/about/club/.

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