Malmstrom family spotlight

Renee Hickman, Ranches at Belt Creek executive chef, poses for a portrait March 28, 2018, in Belt, Mont.

Renee Hickman, Ranches at Belt Creek executive chef, poses for a portrait March 28, 2018, in Belt, Mont. Hickman moved to Montana with her family and landed a cooking job at a local ranch all in less than a year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

Renee Hickman, Ranches at Belt Creek executive chef, prepares a meal March 28, 2018, in Belt, Mont.

Renee Hickman, Ranches at Belt Creek executive chef, prepares a meal March 28, 2018, in Belt, Mont. After being an executive chef for a few months, Hickman took home ‘Best Presentation’ and ‘People’s Choice’ awards during a cooking competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)


Family support is key for Airmen resiliency. Malmstrom family spotlight is a feature published about unique and diverse family members of U.S. Air Force active-duty members assigned here.


This spotlight features Renee Hickman, Ranches at Belt Creek executive chef who supports her family with her husband, Chief Master Sgt. Shane Hickman, 341st Operations Group superintendent.


The Hickman family moved to Malmstrom in August 2017, joining the community as winter swept over the state.


Shortly after arriving to Montana, Renee landed a cooking job at a ranch off base.


After showing her new employer what she could achieve, she became the executive chef and was able to put her culinary degree to work.


“Being a military spouse is difficult,” said Shane. “Having to travel around with me all these years and following my career had held her back from following hers.


“Seeing her now grasp her dream as an executive chef makes me truly happy,” he continued. “She’s worked hard and deserves all the attention she gets.”


What is the best thing about being part of a military family?

“I love that we get to move around and see the world. Our kids have been exposed to so many different places, people and cultures,” said Renee. “It definitely makes us all more well-rounded people.”


What is your favorite thing to do in Great Falls or Montana?

“We really haven’t been able to venture out yet,” said Renee. “But I truly love the scenery and the people are all very nice. I’m excited to spend a summer here.”


The Hickman family has planned an inner tube-like camping trip with Renee’s co-workers, giving them a glimpse of their future summers here in Montana.


Tell the community a special story about yourself, about your achievements or what you love to do.

“I have been cooking and baking since my early childhood years,” said Renee. “I decided to go to culinary school in 2013 and I’ve been working in the industry since and I continue to refine my craft.”


In February 2018, Renee and four other local chefs competed against each other during a cooking competition at a fundraising event.


Renee and her team took home the ‘Best Presentation’ and ‘People’s Choice’ awards.


According to Renee, the event that took place was her first competitive cooking competition and she hopes to do it more often.


“I love feeding people,” she said. “I enjoy creating food that not only looks fun to eat, but tastes delicious and soothes the soul. We all have to eat so why not make it as pleasing as possible?”


What are you personally looking forward to?

“I would love to compete at next year’s (fundraising) event again, showcasing my culinary skills to more people here in Great Falls and also bring home three awards,” said Renee.


“My future plan, as of now, is to stay at the ranch and continue to enjoy cooking. I love working there. It’s my dream job,” she continued. “I love seeing my passion come alive.”


(Malmstrom family spotlight can be found regularly on the base website at http://malmstrom.af.mil. If you are a family member [parent; spouse; partner; child in middle school, high school or college; companion animal or other] and wish to be featured, or if you wish to nominate someone with their permission, please call 341st MW Public Affairs at 731-4050.)

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