8th TSC cooks up excellence

| September 18, 2010 | 0 Comments

Vanessa Lynch & Capt. Jonathan Fredericks
Contributing Writers

Spc. Shavaar Cochran, head baker for the 45th Sust. Bde., 8th TSC, prepares a batch of handmade beignets, Sept. 10, at East Range, for the field kitchen category of Philip A. Connelly Awards Program for Excellence in Army Food Service. (Vanessa Lynch | U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs)SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Napoleon said it best, “An Army marches on its stomach.” Clearly, military personnel need to eat well to perform well, and Soldiers definitely performed well after the meal they ate, here, Sept. 10.

The smell of roast chicken, prime rib and fresh beignets lingered in the air at East Range – behind triple-strand concertina wire and M-2 machine gun nests, humvees mounted with MK-19 grenade launchers and guard-controlled entrances, and camouflage nets draped over tents – as a team of nine food service specialists created a feast to feed more than 85 hungry Soldiers in a small containerized kitchen that they had built from the ground. 

“You’re only as good as your last meal,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Philip Saunders, food advisor, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “The Soldiers who are coming in to eat (also) judge us, and I think they are eating pretty well today.”

Soldiers and food service specialists from the 45th Sust. Bde. made it to the final four teams competing in the 43rd Annual Philip A. Connelly Awards Program for Excellence in Army Food Service, in the active duty, active field category, for the first time since the late 1990s.

Last year, the brigade was the runner-up in the large garrison dining facility category and it hopes to clench the first place title this year.

Team members were: Sgt. Trinity Abilla, 84th Engineer Battalion; Spc. Shavaar Cochran, 540th Quartermaster Company; Spc. Marion Jackson, 45th Sust. Bde.; Spc. Steven Madic, 84th Eng. Bn.; Staff Sgt. La’Chom Madison, 8th Military Police Bde.; Staff Sgt. Josue Molina, 84th Eng. Bn.; Sgt. Timothy Lewis, 84th Eng. Bn.; Saunders; and Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Tate, 45th Sust. Bde.

The team had been up since 4:30 a.m., creating 30 items from scratch, including homemade pastries.

“I was expecting lesser quality food out here,” said Sgt. Fernandez Ruiz, Company A, 45th Sust. Bde. “But I was very much surprised. Breakfast was excellent.”

Every year, dining facilities all over the globe are put to the test to see if they can meet the challenge of being the best. 

However, the Connelly Awards Program’s objective is designed to meet three key objectives: improve the professionalism of food service personnel, thus providing the best quality food service to support Soldiers; provide recognition for excellence in the preparation and serving of food in Army troop dining facilities and during field kitchen operations; and provide added incentive to competitive programs  by adding a higher level of competition and appropriate recognition.

The inspectors, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Teresa Domeier, Sgt. Major Swilley Clark and David Mitchell traveled from Fort Lee, Va., home of the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, to evaluate site preparation, food preparation and presentation, as well as execution of the field-feeding site.  

From providing nutritional meals to creating morale-boosting environments, food service professionals keep the Army “rolling along,” according to Mitchell. He said the program honors those professionals, both military and civilian, who rise above the standard and continually demonstrate excellence in food service. 

“What will kill a team’s chances of winning is sanitation,” Domeier said. “If a Soldier gets sick, they can’t do their job. Sanitation is important all the time, no matter where you are cooking, and based on what I have seen here, they have taken the time to do things right.”

Army evaluators travel the globe to see how Army food-service personnel perform their jobs, and judge the finalists in five dining facility categories – small garrison, large garrison and field kitchens in active duty, Reserve and National Guard. Food service staff and their facilities are evaluated in a number of areas, including preparation, taste, nutrition, service and sanitation. 

“This field food service site is a static set up of how field food service would look if you occupied an area for more than 30 days,” Saunders said. “(The team) deserves an ideal amount of credit for their great accomplishments of exceeding the standard of food service for not only the 45th Sust. Bde., but for representing (U.S. Army-Pacific) as well.” 

“I honestly think we will win,” Tate said. “We put forth a lot of effort and hard work, and I’m sure it will all pay off in the end.”

Winners and runners-up will be announced Dec. 15.

(Editor’s Note: Lynch is news editor, Hawaii Army Weekly. Fredericks is assigned to the 45th Sust. Bde. Public Affairs, 8th TSC.)

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