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Single Airman program gets cooking at Autry Tech

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Vance students receive professional culinary instruction at Autry Technology Center in Enid, March 2. Team Vance enjoyed the first night of a four-part culinary course coordinated by the base's Single Airman Programming Initiative. (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Vance students receive professional culinary instruction at Autry Technology Center in Enid, March 2. Team Vance enjoyed the first night of a four-part culinary course coordinated by the base's Single Airman Programming Initiative. (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Airman 1st Class Ariel Schlenther, a 71st Medical Operations Squadron Airman, separates a chicken at Autry Technology Center in Enid, Oklahoma, March 2. “I learned a lot on Monday, and I actually applied it to my dinner recipes this past week,” Schlenther said of the Single Airman program-organized class. “I love to cook and thought this would be a great opportunity.” (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Airman 1st Class Ariel Schlenther, a 71st Medical Operations Squadron Airman, separates a chicken at Autry Technology Center in Enid, Oklahoma, March 2. “I learned a lot on Monday, and I actually applied it to my dinner recipes this past week,” Schlenther said of the Single Airman program-organized class. “I love to cook and thought this would be a great opportunity.” (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Team Vance learns from Chef Tyler Whitson at Autry Technology Center in Enid, March 2. The culinary class was the first of a four-class series offered via the Single Airman Program Initiative. (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Team Vance learns from Chef Tyler Whitson at Autry Technology Center in Enid, March 2. The culinary class was the first of a four-class series offered via the Single Airman Program Initiative. (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Stacy Ann Smith, a 25th Flying Training Squadron spouse, chops vegetables with classmates at Autry Technology Center in Enid, March 2. Team Vance enjoyed the first night of a four-part culinary course coordinated by the base's Single Airman Programming Initiative. While SAPI funds are initially allotted for single Airmen, opportunities can be extended to the greater military community. (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Stacy Ann Smith, a 25th Flying Training Squadron spouse, chops vegetables with classmates at Autry Technology Center in Enid, March 2. Team Vance enjoyed the first night of a four-part culinary course coordinated by the base's Single Airman Programming Initiative. While SAPI funds are initially allotted for single Airmen, opportunities can be extended to the greater military community. (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Team Vance learned efficient kitchen skills as part of a culinary class series at Autry Technology Center in Enid, Oklahoma, March 2. Vance’s Single Airman Programming Initiative has connected troops and the military community with intermediate and advanced culinary skills classes throughout the month of March. (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Team Vance learned efficient kitchen skills as part of a culinary class series at Autry Technology Center in Enid, Oklahoma, March 2. Vance’s Single Airman Programming Initiative has connected troops and the military community with intermediate and advanced culinary skills classes throughout the month of March. (U.S. Air Force photo / David Poe)

Single Airman events calendar. (courtesy graphic)

Single Airman events calendar. (courtesy graphic)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- In a time of Air Force quality of life program restructuring, the Single Airman Programming Initiative endures.

In a partnership between Vance's SAPI committee and the Autry Technology Center, a local vocational school, Team Vance got off the base and into the kitchen for the first night of a four-part culinary course, March 2.

SAPI funds are endorsed by the Office of the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force and are administered by the Air Force Personnel Center, Services Directorate. Locally, the quality-of-life program is operated by the 71st Force Support Squadron.

According to the committee, active duty or reserve single Airmen of any rank are SAPI's primary focus, although opportunities can extend to any individual who is otherwise authorized to use 71st FSS programs.  

Chef Tyler Whitson, an Autry Tech culinary instructor, started the group off with "basic knife skills" and shared some efficient kitchen practices.

"With preparation, dinner should only take 20 minutes [to cook]," Whitson said. "It shouldn't take over an hour."

The students learned how to separate a chicken into a week's worth of meals. They prepared batter-fried chicken thighs, red wine-braised chicken legs and chicken legs with a pan sauce. They also cooked up a fresh vegetable stir fry.

On her first SAPI outing at Vance, Airman 1st Class Ariel Schlenther, a 71st Medical Operations Squadron Airman, said she enjoyed "Chef T's" instruction and has already put his teachings into action.

Airman 1st Class Kibby Anglin, the Vance SAPI committee secretary, said that Vance's annual SAPI funds are use or lose.

"Vance has generally been forfeiting a lot of the funds yearly," she said, adding that unused funds are typically redistributed to installations with higher program participations. "Our goal for this year is to not only use all of our allocated funds, but hopefully be granted additional funding toward the end of the year to add in some last-minute events or equipment as well."

Whether it's cooking classes or auto hobby lessons, skydiving or paintballing, Anglin, a Team Vance air traffic controller, said she hopes SAPI at Vance will not only be about the activities themselves, but also the friends that could be made along the way.

"Even though we have only offered a few events so far, I've noticed that the Airmen who have been participating have not only been enjoying the events and activities, but they have also been growing both their social and professional networks," she said. "Airmen who normally wouldn't encounter one another on base, are now being provided an opportunity to meet."

The culinary class series will culminate with a "Chopped" cooking competition, March 30. In the style of the Food Network reality-based cooking television show, students will receive surprise ingredients and make a meal that will be judged by Vance leaders.

Classes at Autry Tech are just some of the SAPI opportunities on tap for 2015. See photos for a schedule and contact your organization's SAPI representative for more information.