News: 4th CAB cooks earn college credit
Story by Sgt. Jonathan Thibault
FORT CARSON, Colo. - Mouthwatering aromas of delicious gourmet foods fill the air as the cooks of 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, create meals and learn to make new cuisine, as part of an accreditation program for cooks on Fort Carson.
The cook accreditation program was proposed a year ago by Fort Carson Installation Food Service in collaboration with Pikes Peak Community College and the American Culinary Federation.
The 4th CAB had one warrant officer from the senior class and five enlisted cooks from the junior class that are the first cooks from the unit to go through the program.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Geier, brigade food service adviser, 4th CAB, 4th Infantry Division, has been in Army food service for 16 years.
“The accreditation program gives soldiers the opportunity to earn their culinary degree and earn college credit for their job skills learned throughout their military career,” said Geier. “This program is a great opportunity for food service personnel who want to go above and beyond to become more culinary experts.”
Since October, 4th CAB cooks have attended classes and earned up to 12 credit hours toward culinary degrees by taking classes before or after their normal work hours. They are given written and practical exams. The culinary arts accreditation luncheon at the Elkhorn Feb. 20 was their first practical exam.
“This program will raise the standards for cooks and propel their culinary skills to another level,” said Staff Sgt. Malcolm Mahogany, battalion senior food service noncommissioned officer, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th CAB, 4th ID. “The cooks will not only better serve the dining facilities, but will also gain tangible skills outside of the Army.”
The program is based off the curriculum used by PPCC, which is accredited by the ACF. All senior cooks are members of the ACF, the largest organization of professional chefs. Chef Thomas E. Schaefer, Fort Carson director of culinary training, accreditation and certification, and an ACF certified chef, is a volunteer who instructs the senior and junior cook accreditation classes, as well as the Fort Carson Culinary Arts Team.
“The cooks in this program are learning everything a person would learn in a culinary school,” said Schaefer. “I proposed this program a year ago and hope to build it into a program used across the Army, to allow soldiers to get college credit for the skills they have learned.”
IFS, PPCC, ACF and Fort Carson cooks hope to build the program into a three-part program that will earn the cooks an associate degree in culinary arts and are currently proposing internships at local restaurants and resorts.