225th BSB uses visit to prep for upcoming Connelly food service competition
Story and photo by Sgt. Robert England
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Steam rose from shiny silver trays as their covers were removed revealing delectable treasures within.
A spatula scooped out a sliced piece of lemon- baked fish, followed by greens and corn on the cob.
Kalua pig, teriyaki chicken, steamed rice and mashed potatoes rounded out the “Hawaiian Meal” at the Warrior Inn dining facility, here, Sept. 14.
The meal was served in honor of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Thomas Lamont, during his visit, here.
While Lamont focused on his working lunch with leaders from the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the 3rd BCT, Warrior Inn dining facility staff focused on serving lunch.
Lamont’s visit to their dining facility gave the food service specialists from the “Warrior Brigade” another opportunity to perfect their craft and showcase their talents to distinguished visitors before the final decision of the 2012 Philip A. Connelly Award, an Armywide competition for food service units.
These food service specialists with the 225th BSB, 2nd SBCT, have hosted other distinguished guests. Professional basketball players from the National Basketball Association dined with Soldiers from Schofield Barracks at the Warrior Inn during the USO’s “Hoops For Troops” tour in October 2011.
Also, local celebrity Carole Kai visited the 2nd SBCT dining facility for lunch while filming her TV special, “Hawaii’s Stars,” in April.
Staff Sgt. Lawrence Gerald, senior food service sergeant, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 225th BSB, 2nd SBCT, said he thinks that preparing meals for distinguished visitors has helped to improve the skills of individual food service specialists, as well as the operational standards for the dining facility.
“Any time we have distinguished visitors come through, it’s the Soldiers’ time to shine,” Gerald said. “Here at the Warrior Inn dining facility, we always put our best foot forward, but the Soldiers like to take it up a notch when DVs (distinguished visitors) eat here.”
“One thing about a dining facility, it’s always up-tempo; there’s never a dull moment in food service” Gerald added. “We’re providing nutritious meals for Soldiers, so we’re constantly on the go. Anxiety levels may go up when we have dignitaries eating here, but at the end of the day, we’re still going to put out a good, quality, nutritious meal.”
Gerald said that, earlier this year, judges inspected and observed the Warrior Inn dining facility during its daily operations. The Warriors rose to the challenge and bested about 10 other dining facilities throughout U.S. Army-Pacific, including those in South Korea, Alaska and Hawaii.
With its victory at the USARPAC level, the 225th BSB, 2nd SBCT, dining facility will advance to Department of the Army judging, scheduled later this year.
Sgt. 1st Class Eduardo Valencia, a platoon sergeant for the food service specialists of the 225th BSB, 2nd SBCT, said judges from Fort Lee, Va., will inspect dining facilities representing their respective regional commands during October-November.
The competition holds each dining facility to a high standard, but the Warrior Inn faces additional challenges in supporting training operations on Oahu, the Big Island and South Korea, Gerald said.
“The hardest part for us is that we do have a lot of moving pieces,” Gerald said. “Even though we’re prepping for the Connelly, we still have other missions, other operations to support. There are so many dining facilities that participate across the Army, but only one gets to say that they won the Philip A. Connelly, the most prestigious award in food service.”
Despite these challenges, Gerald expressed his faith in his comrades to bring the 2012 Philip A. Connelly Award home to the Warrior Inn dining facility while still accomplishing the mission.
“I think we have a great chance of winning with the Soldiers and noncommissioned officers we have now,” Gerald said. “It’s a lot of work, but I think we have a great team and a great chance to win it.”