News: 326th wins Army Reserve Command Philip A. Connelly Award
Story by Capt. Jeffrey Gruidl
NEW CASTLE, Conn. -- Competition is known to breed innovation, force teams to perform in a cohesive manner to meet their objectives and prove they are the best. A prime example of this is the Philip A Connelly Awards Program for Excellence in Army Food Service competition.
Soldiers from the 326th Quartermaster Company, New Castle, Pa., recently came together to compete and prove that they have what it takes to be the best and Dec. 28 it was announced that the 326th was the Army Reserve Command winner of 44th Philip A. Connelly Award. Soldiers from the 326th competed in multiple United States Army Reserve Command level competitions before being announced as the winners.
“This is the super bowl of food service,” said Nestle Professional’s Corporate Executive Chef Ron Coneybeer, head observer for the event. “To even make it to this level they have already proven that they are already winners and an A-Team.”Upon learning the results, Warrant Officer Willis Glass, 326th team leader, said, “Winning the Philip A. Connelly competition meant reaching the highest standard set for any Army Food Service Specialist or Food Service Technician. It was a combined effort of the field feeding section, support of Soldiers from the 326th QM commanding officer, coaching from Food Service Technicians and senior 326th NCO's, and assistance from ECS 103 staff and the entire chain of command.”
The team, which was led by Glass, included Staff Sgt. Russell Haley, Sgt. Ashley Williams, Spc. Spencer Meyers, Spc. Rickita Salter, Pvt. Corey Morris, and the support of the 326th.
The Connelly program, which was established in 1968, has had a major impact on the degree of professionalism associated with Army food service. According to information from the Army Quartermaster School, “Much of the professionalism associated with today's Army Food Service Program is a direct result of the Connelly competition and the invaluable support provided by IFSEA. The greatest value to the profession, however, is the program's fringe benefits, which, in essence, produce improvements in the quality of food and food service afforded to the soldier.”
The team, which was tasked with making a meal for 60+ soldiers in a Mobile Kitchen Trailer, had their work cut out for them over the course of the day long competition. Steady snowfall and temperatures hovering around freezing kept the work site cold, muddy, and slippery.
“This is great Army Training,” said Chief Warrant Officer Marc Morrell, USARC food service adviser. “The event takes place over the course of 18 months so that they will get different weather conditions. This gives me an opportunity to observe them in the field and check their proficiency of field equipment. This is much different from cooking in a dining facility.”
In addition to cooking the meal, supporting members of the team are tasked with providing force protection to include an entry supply point, disposing of trash, sanitizing the cooking equipment, and aiding the cooking crew in numerous other ways.
“No one out here is more important than anyone else,” said Glass. “Although the cooking team is the most visible, this is a team event and we need everyone to perform their assigned tasks.”
The menu included tomato soup, Cajun meatloaf, mashed potatoes, glazed fresh, carrots, strawberry shortcake and salad.
“We had to do things that separated us from the other teams,” said Glass. “We trid to enhance the recipe any way we could. They give us a guideline and we put a signature twist on it."
The Connelly event is managed by the Quartermaster School’s Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, co-sponsored by the International Food Service Executive Association and Department of the Army and the 326th will be presented with their award in conjunction with the annual IFSEA conference where representatives of both winning and runner-up units in the competition are hosted as guests of honor at the weeklong food education conference.