News: ‘Black Jack’ cooks sweep food competitions
Story by Staff Sgt. Johnathan Hoover
FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers assigned to various units and units from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, “Black Jack,” 1st Cavalry Division, came together to win the Active Army Field Kitchen Phillip A. Connelly Awards Program competition held at the Expert Field Medical Badge training site, Fort Hood, April 4.
The Philip A. Connelly Awards Program was established on 23 March 1968 to recognize excellence in Army Food Service. The program is named for the late Philip A. Connelly, former president of International Food Service Executives Association, who was responsible for obtaining IFSEA’s sponsorship of the event, according to the Evaluators Handbook.
“Overall of what we were looking for is the standard in field feeding, sanitation, quality of the meal, presentation of the meal and the way the customers are treated when they come in,” said Bryan Day of Detroit, member of the III Corps Command Maintenance and Evaluation Team. “The way the field site is laid out is everything in its proper place, everything built to standard, everything according to the Army manuals and regulations that give us our guidelines of how we are supposed to perform our operations.”
“The goal of these competitions is to improve the quality of the Army Food Service and keep us in line with what is going on in the commercial side of the house,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph Bodirsky of Bakers Field, Calif., the command food service technician assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2/1 CAV. “The same food that we are serving up here is the same food that you can buy downtown.”
Black Jack soldiers had a shorter time to prepare for the competition than other units on the installation but their willingness and resourcefulness pushed them through.
“Other units competing on Fort Hood in the field category had their equipment here. Black Jack soldiers borrowed from other battalions to complete their set up,” said Bodirsky. “Our soldiers’ resourcefulness was monumental.”
“I’m so proud of these soldiers. They have bent over backwards, putting in very long hours getting this together,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Roberts from Philadelphia, N.Y., and a senior food operations sergeant assigned to HHC, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2/1 CAV. “It’s great bringing the award to Black Jack, the soldiers wanted to win this.”
Roberts said that soldiers were volunteering to be on the team that represented Black Jack when the competition was announced.
Teamwork is huge, it’s a total command effort, not just the food service personnel, said Day. It’s from the commanders emphasis on feeding his troops, the other sections within that command, maintenance and how they support the field feeding team, supply and whether or not they are resourced properly and then the food service team itself.
The amount of support that we received from the brigade command team with anything that we needed shows they completely support the food services 100 percent, said Bodirsky.
“Competing at the installation level proved who had the best field feeding section and had the knowledge, training and who performs well in the field to meet the commanders intent to feed the soldiers,” said Bodirsky
Roberts said teamwork was a huge part of the competition, receiving tremendous support from every unit within the brigade.
It’s not just one battalion coming out to compete, we requested an exception to policy so that we could pull from all of our battalions making it a brigade team which shows our solidarity, said Bodirsky.
“Our commanders already know that in Black Jack we have the best cooks on Fort Hood, now we have proved to the rest of Fort Hood that we have the best cooks,” said Bodirsky.
Black Jack also received first place in the Military Dining Facility (garrison feeding operations).