CAMP PERRY, Ohio - The sweet, succulent smell of roast beef, onion soup and brownies filled the cold air as the 454th Transportation Company prepared dinner for 170 troops at Camp Perry, Ohio, March 9.
Food specialists from the 454th TC, representing the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, were the first out of 14 units to compete at the U.S. Reserve Command level this year for the Phillip A. Connelly Competition.
The Connelly awards provide recognition for excellence in the preparation and serving of food in Army troop dining facilities and during field operations.
This year, the unit prepared their meal in the mobile kitchen trailer complete with stoves, dining area and a dishwasher.
USARC evaluators flew in from Fort Bragg, N.C., to judge the troops on various areas of food service, to include knowing the capabilities of their equipment and how to maintain it.
"We evaluate them on preparing the food safely, and that they are doing everything by the receipt card," said Chief Warrent Officer 4 Pamela Null, USARC Food Service. "There is a checklist to make sure they are hitting all of the sections."
The 454th TC was chosen by the 310th ESC to participate in this competition after competing with another unit from the command.
"We did the first round and we did well," said Spc. Marcela Zambrano, 454th TC food service specialist.
The cooks in the unit have a combined experience of less than two years, according to the noncommissioned officer in charge, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Miller.
"They are actually doing things they have never done before. It's all coming together," said Miller.
"I am a little nervous," said Zambrano. "I just became a cook about six months ago. This is something new I can experience."
As the temperature dropped rapidly, and the generator ran out of fuel, the cooks pressed forward in preparing dinner.
"Overall, it went well. We adjust every time we are cooking. That's the nature of this, especially on the MKT," said Miller.
"No one lost their cool. You all kept positive attitudes, and that was some great onion soup," said Null to the cooks once the competition was over and dinner was served.
In the end, the Yankee pot roast was tender and juicy, the onion soup was excellent and the brownies were delicious.