News: 593rd Sustainment Brigade Dining Facility competes with heart for Phillip A. Connelly Award
Story by Sgt. Jacqueline Fennell
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - “The atmosphere is always great in this facility and they take pride in what they do,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Verbeke, I Corps (rear) (provisional), regarding the quality of service he received at the 593rd Sustainment Brigade’s Dining Facility. Verbeke said he has been eating at the 593rd Dining Facility for almost five years.
Food-service operators at the 593rd Dining Facility competed for the Phillip A.Connelly Award, at the Installation Command regional level, June 12, after being nominated for best-in-food-service at JBLM earlier this year. The results of the competition will determine who competes at the Department of the Army level food-service competition beginning in October of this year.
Sgt. 1st Class Anita Frazier, the 593rd Dining Facility manager, said she had a flavor for Asian-Pacific heritage when she collaborated with her culturally diverse soldiers and peers regarding recipe ideas for the menu she designed.
Senses were enticed with the aromas of Hawaiian Kalua Pig, lemon peppered fish, sweet potatoes and vegetarian stuffed bell-peppers which melded perfectly in the dining room.
Frazier said, “My soldiers prepare food with love and deliver the best in quality to fellow service members and civilians every day.”
Frazier explained the quality of food is an indirect result of ensuring her soldiers are taken care so that love can be tasted in their cuisine.
Food-service soldiers, who are customer-service professionals, work tirelessly behind the kitchen doors and enthusiastically greet patrons on the front serving lines at the 593rd Dining Facility.
“Our cooks here provide service with a smile here,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Levien, commander of the Sustainment Troops Battalion, 593rd SB. “What makes this dining facility unique from other dining facilities is that non-commissioned officers in charge, here, listen to soldiers' suggestions.”
Levien further explained that food quality is based on what soldiers want. The tasting experience is more than just good; it’s healthy, added Levien.
Health conscious eaters were able to enjoy a flavorful meal at a mere 493 calories.
Installation Command representative, Thomas Lara, who was the competition evaluator, said food service is about taking care of soldier’s needs; not just anyone can run a dining facility.
Lara added, “It has to be in your heart and blood to take care of soldiers and provide quality every day.”
Sgt. Antwain Moody, a food-service specialist assigned to the 21st Cargo Transfer Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 593rd SB, explained, “We put a lot of heart and soul in the food and it took us three days to prepare for this meal.”
Moody mentioned that he was from the south and added, “I was thinking of back home when I was cooking the pig.”
Many food-service specialists started planning weeks before the Phillip A. Connelly competition in order to focus on presentation and appeal.
Spc. William Tharpe, assigned to the 2nd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, said it took him a couple of weeks to mold two blocks of ice into fruit bowl and fish ice sculptures which were used to display an offering of fruit inside the dining room.
During the evaluation process, Lara, the competition evaluator, said he was looking at food preparation quality and presentation, production schedules, sanitation, the appearance and attitude of food service personnel as well as food safety and protection.
437 service members and civilians moved through the serving lines and were given several options to make healthy choices. Many found a warm comforting atmosphere in which to enjoy their lunch.
Lara said the presentation was great, the food tasted good and he heard no complaints from customers who dined at the 593rd Dining Facility.
“Army food service tries to incorporate items that would be best for the health of a soldier, but trying to make it taste good is the challenge,” saidVerbeke. “They do a good job of doing that here.”
This work, 593rd Sustainment Brigade Dining Facility competes with heart for Phillip A. Connelly Award, by SGT Jacqueline Fennell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.