By SPC Monte Swift
U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) Soldiers from the 847th Human Resources Company (HRC) competed in the final stage of the Philip A. Connelly food service competition at Fort Snelling, MN, in October, after winning at the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and USAR Command competitions.
The five-Soldier team, along with other supporting members from the 847th, competed in a field environment to best demonstrate real-world conditions and the challenges associated with maintaining a kitchen in the field.
The Philip A. Connelly Competition, established in 1968, recognizes excellence in Army food service. The objective is to improve the professionalism of Army food service personnel and maintain high-quality food for Soldiers through proper sanitation, excellent cooking methods, teamwork, and preparation. The competition recognizes those who set the standard for preparing and serving food in dining facilities and in the field.
It is divided into five categories: military garrison, civilian garrison, active Army field kitchens, USAR field kitchens, and National Guard field kitchens. The team is scored by two DA-level raters and one civilian member of the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA).
“There is a very defined checklist that I have. It is pretty straightforward and includes sanitation, personnel, security, site location, quality of food; it goes on and on,” said competition evaluator Ron Coneybeer, IFSEA. “It is a big responsibility, being a cook. If standards aren’t kept, it could really hurt a lot of people. Not only are you putting their health in your hands, you are taking care of their nutrition.”
As the smell of freshly cooked food spread throughout the kitchen, the minutes ticked down for the lunchtime deadline. Lunch included Cajun meat loaf with Creole sauce, mashed potatoes, salad, tomato soup, strawberry shortcake, and two added sides of Caesar salad and jalapeño corn bread. Nearly everything was made from scratch, except for the biscuits and corn bread, which were made using mixes.
“They are going to win; I already know that,” said Command Food Service CW3 Kim Shiner, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). “I attribute their success so far to their training, their discipline, and just the Soldiers themselves. We have made them do this several times, and they have gotten better. They critiqued it to the point that they can do this in their sleep.”
CW4 Terese Domeier, Nebraska Food Program Manager and Evaluator for the competition for the past three years, said that maintaining Army food standards is an important part of ensuring readiness and self reliance in the field. The Army “has lost a lot of food service slots, and it is not good because we still need to be self-sufficient. You can’t always rely on the civilian sector to take care of your Soldiers if you don’t have food service personnel,” she said. “If you want to go out to the field and be self-sufficient, you need your food service personnel, and they need to maintain those standards.”
“I think they did excellent today,” said CPT Olubunmi Adekunle, Commander, 847th HRC. “There was a lot of teamwork going on. They put their all into it, and I am very proud of them. It has been a long road, and they have done very well up to this point, so there is no reason they shouldn’t win.”
The winner of the competition will be announced on or about December 23, with the winning team earning a trophy and a trip to San Diego, CA., next spring.
- SPC MONTE SWIFT is assigned to the 203rd Public Affairs Detachment in Des Moines, IA, as a Journalist/Photographer. As a civilian, he is a Truss Builder at Engineered Building Design, LC, in Washington, IA. He holds an A.A. in photography from Hawkeye Community College.
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