JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The culinary specialists with the Washington National Guard’s Delta Company, 141st Brigade Support Battalion, 96th Troop Command, take pride in feeding Soldiers. They were recognized during March drill for their work with the coveted Phillip A. Connelly Award in the field category.
“The competition was a challenge. Being able to win this was a direct result of hard work on the Soldiers’ part,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Noel, culinary management noncommissioned officer. “A lot of creative thinking went into how to execute a very challenging meal. It built confidence in their skill sets and removed any doubts they may have had about how well trained they are at doing this.”
The Department of the Army and the International Food Service Executives Association established the Phillip A. Connelly Memorial Awards Program in 1968 to improve food service operations and recognize the best mess halls in the Army. The program is named in honor of the late Phillip A. Connelly, former president of the International Food Service Executives Association.
The award is presented to the best Active-Duty and Reserve/National Guard Garrison and Field Kitchens in the Army.
Delta Company’s win in the field feeding category was evaluated on administration/training supervision, headcount operations, request/receipt and storage of rations, field sanitation, command support, appearance, serving troop acceptability, kitchen site selection/layout, maintenance of equipment and food preparation and quality.
Winners take part in higher-level culinary competitions.
“The next round is a two-day event. The first day is a timed event on setting up their containerized kitchen, and then Day Two is the meal operations. National Guard Bureau and Department of the Army pick the menu. So that way, it’s universal, and every team is using the same menu as a foundation,” said Master Sgt. Melissa Turner, state food program manager and JFHQ senior culinary management noncommissioned officer. “The uniformity allows us to base our scores off the same meal. There are three evaluators for each event.”
Turner believes a large part of the unit’s success is the approach to mentoring the younger culinary specialists in the Washington Army National Guard.
“Part of the job of evaluating is also mentorship. You have the warrant officers there to provide technical advice, and then we have the senior enlisted as part of the evaluators, and that part is mentoring them during the process,” said Taylor.