Pacific Army chefs prepare for top culinary events

| February 26, 2015 | 1 Comment
Army food specialists from the 25th Infantry Division and 8th Theater Sustainment Command, take vegetable slicing lessons as part of their Advanced Culinary Arts training, Sept. 16, at the Bronco Dining Facility on Schofield Barracks. (Photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs)

Army food specialists from the 25th Infantry Division and 8th Theater Sustainment Command, take vegetable slicing lessons as part of their Advanced Culinary Arts training, Sept. 16, at the Bronco Dining Facility on Schofield Barracks.

Story and photos by
Sgt. Jon Heinrich
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — For the Army’s top chefs on Oahu, every day leading up to mid-March brings a chance to improve and prepare.

Pvt. 1st Class Willie Mills, an Army food service specialist with Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, seasons chicken before it can be cooked, Feb. 10, at the K-Quad Dining Facility.

Pvt. 1st Class Willie Mills, an Army food service specialist with Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, seasons chicken before it can be cooked, Feb. 10, at the K-Quad Dining Facility.

Food service specialists working at the 45th Sustainment Brigade and 25th Infantry Division are training at the 8th Theater Sust. Command’s Dining Facility (DFAC) at K-Quad, here, throughout February, to prepare for upcoming Department of the Army and Department of Defense competitions.

The Soldiers will compete for the Philip A. Connelly (PAC) Award, March 10, here, and will participate in the DOD Culinary Arts Competition, March 1-13, at Fort Lee, Virginia.

During the PAC, judges will inspect the DFAC itself, and during the DOD competition, they will focus on the chefs’ food preparation, service and presentation.

“One of the big things is sanitation, the cleanliness of the facility,” said Master Sgt. Robin Propes, the brigade food service noncommissioned officer in charge for the 45th Sust. Bde.

That involves keeping the floors swept and mopped throughout the day, cleaning dirty dishes used by both the diners and cooks, and wiping down all tables.

Army food specialists from the 25th Infantry Division and 8th Theater Sustainment Command, practice serving plates as part of their Advanced Culinary Arts training, Sept. 16, at the Bronco Dining Facility on Schofield Barracks.

Army food specialists from the 25th Infantry Division and 8th Theater Sustainment Command, practice serving plates as part of their Advanced Culinary Arts training, Sept. 16, at the Bronco Dining Facility on Schofield Barracks.

With a true train-as-they-fight mentality, Propes said, “They’re practicing a meal every Tuesday because our competition that we are actually getting judged on is March 10, which is a Tuesday. So every Tuesday, they come in, and they prepare that day’s meals from start to finish.”

While training for the PAC award, the cooks are still performing their daily duties, serving Soldiers meals and maintaining the cleanliness of the DFAC.

“It’s really an inspection on our daily duties,” said Staff Sgt. Ashley Leiva, the shift leader for Sustainment Bistro, 25th Transportation Company, 524th Combat Sust, Support Battalion, 45th Sust. Bde. “We’re supposed to be giving good, quality food every day.”

As shift leader, he manages the chefs and the meals in the DFAC.

“I oversee everything in the kitchen,” Leiva said, “everyone inside the kitchen, so I have to make sure everyone is here, make sure that everyone has something to do, that there’s no time being wasted.”

Propes said there will be approximately 30 Soldiers involved in the PAC from the cooks themselves to the administrative personnel and the ration section that controls the inventory.

Soldiers from the 8th TSC and the 25th ID sculpt a sea turtle from ice. The turtle is part of a larger “Reef Life” ice sculpture for the Pacific Command-level of the DOD Culinary Arts Competition. Ice sculptures have a long tradition of enhancing the presentation of cold foods and beverages.

Soldiers from the 8th TSC and the 25th ID sculpt a sea turtle from ice. The turtle is part of a larger “Reef Life” ice sculpture for the Pacific Command-level of the DOD Culinary Arts Competition. Ice sculptures have a long tradition of enhancing the presentation of cold foods and beverages.

Leiva said that competing in and winning these competitions is and will be an honor for U.S. Army-Pacific, U.S. Pacific Command, and Army food service specialists as a whole.

Propes said, “Everybody’s motivated. We all have our eyes on the prize and hope that we win.”

The team said the preparation for the PAC inherently helps their members prepare for the DOD competition later in March.

 

Philip A. Connelly Program

The Philip A. Connelly Program was established March 23, 1968, in order to recognize excellence in the Army Food Service.

It is named after the late Philip A. Connelly, the former president of the International Food Service Executives Association.

The program’s objectives are to promote and improve the Army food service through awareness, encourage and recognize deserving units for superb performance, award individuals for outstanding management and to honor the traditions of the program.

Culinary Arts Competition

The Culinary Arts Competition promotes growth in the military food service profession and showcases the talents of military chefs from all branches of the U.S. armed forces.

The competition focuses on practicality, nutrition, workmanship, economy, presentation, creativity and concept.

It recognizes individual and team efforts while providing incentives and recognition in the form of certificates, medals, trophies and continuing education credit hours that can be used toward credentialing.

History of Army Culinary Profession

The first military food program was established in 1775 by the Continental Congress in an attempt to standardize rations to units.

Company-level food service was introduced in 1777 with the focus on personal cleanliness and close supervision of food preparation and cooking.

After the War of 1812, the War Department was responsible for the procurement of common supply items for all services, and the Army Subsistence Department was merged with the Quartermaster Department. Despite these new changes, the Army was still issuing rations to individual Soldiers until after the Civil War when companies were assigned cooks.

In 1917, the Army adopted the concept that it was better to have too much than too little and that supplies should be sent forward without requiring units to submit a requisition, which added greatly to the total requirement for subsistence during World Wars I and II.

During the 1940s, coordinated subsistence procurement began taking shape with three Quartermaster depots for nonperishable items and 35 Quartermaster Market Centers for perishables.

The Vietnam War changed the way Soldiers were given food due to no clearly defined battle lines. Supply routes were in constant danger, leading to rations being used more.

In the 1970s, the Army introduced the Mobile Kitchen Trailer in an attempt to push subsistence forward to the fast-moving battlefield.

During the 1980s, Meals, Ready to Eat and Tray Rations were created and became the standard rations for Soldiers in the field. Continued improvements to these rations over the years have led to larger portion sizes, increased variety of meals and better preparation methods.

In 1986, the Army took the lead in military nutrition science, presided over by the Department of Defense Combat Feeding and Research Program. As a result, the Military Nutrition Division has been leading the way of physical, physiological and nutritional requirements research in addressing the needs of modern military personnel.

Thanks to modern research, ration and hydration requirements have been defined for Soldiers working in different environments, ranging from altitude and temperature.

Scientists from the MND and Pennington Biomedical Research Center continue to improve ration technologies, address nutrition concerns, establish new programs for Soldier weight management and otherwise optimize performance through military nutrition research.

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  1. Jane says:

    Enjoyed this article, thanks for sharing all this information, very informative.

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