Some may question why an Air Force general needs one personal chef, let alone a staff of three, but Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Medeiros is quick to defend why her work, cooking for the second-highest-ranking officer in the U.S. military, is important: “Food is a common ground for anyone in the world,” the chef says. “You can’t discuss multimillion-dollar affairs over Hot Pockets.”

It’s a tradition dating back centuries, that of generals of opposing armies sitting down together to break bread and broker agreements. “That meal helps build trust,” says Medeiros. “It establishes a relationship, a place to share personal stories so they can do business later.”

Medeiros has experienced firsthand the necessity of building trust. When she was deployed in Afghanistan, she had to navigate the local customs of a patriarchal society while scrambling to find canape ingredients in unfamiliar terrain. “When I got back to the U.S., I told my daughters, ‘You have no idea how lucky you are to be living in this country,’ ” she says.


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