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    New York National Guard cooks work around the clock to keep Soldiers fed

    New York National Guard cooks keep Soldiers fueled at AT

    Photo By Sgt. Cesar Leon | New York Army National Guard Soldiers move through the food line at the dining...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Cesar Leon 

    New York National Guard

    FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Sgt. Kelivs Cedeno’s workday the week of Aug. 16-22 began around 3 a.m. and ended at about 10 p.m. Then he started all over again.

    But the food service specialist in the New York Army National Guard’s 369th Sustainment Brigade, says he doesn’t mind the crazy hours.

    “Working in the kitchen is hectic, it’s stressful, it’s fast paced, it’s unforgiving, it’s tiring but it is fun if you have a good group – and we have a good group,” Cedeno said.

    For Cedeno, a Bronx, N.Y. resident, and the other cooks of the 369th’s headquarters company, annual training revolved around making sure 300 of their fellow Soldiers got fed on time so they could do their training.

    “There are very few Military Occupational Specialty codes that are as critical as the cooks,” Sgt. Ian Pierre said.

    “You can mess up a meal to the point where you either don’t feed troops or they can get the wrong food and it takes them out of action and you can’t continue your mission,” the Rockaway Park, N.Y. resident said.

    Most National Guard Soldiers come to annual training or drill, they train and they become better at their jobs,” said Capt. Louis Dellipizzi, the commander of the 369th Sustainment Brigade’s headquarters company. The cooks have to hit the ground running and be at the top of their game each time, he said.

    “Every time they come to the army they are performing their real world mission. It’s not training for them – it’s game on,” said Dellipizzi, an East Islip, N.Y. resident.

    Cooking for 300 is a demanding job.

    Food has to be stored at specific temperatures and handled in specific ways to ensure it doesn’t spoil. Army meal plans and recipes must be followed exactly.

    This all takes organization and attention to detail, Cedeno said.

    “We can’t be moving from station to station without a purpose,” Cedeno said. “Everything has to have a purpose; everything has to be precisely planned.”

    The pressure is really on when the kitchen crew is short-staffed, like his team was this annual training, Pierre said. It means making sure that everything is planned out in advance, he added.

    “We know we have a job to get done and this is what we all enjoy doing – we make it work,” he said. “It creates a little issue with prep work. You really have to manage your time differently,” Pierre said.

    “It takes about two hours to get the prep done. While the food is cooking you have to check the temperatures, especially the meats and your main course,” Pierre said.

    The work continues non-stop.

    Soldiers assigned to KP or “kitchen police” play a key role in the mess hall because Army regulations prohibit a cook who is working from handling garbage, Pierre said.

    “The KP job is essential in the kitchen because if you don’t have enough KPs you are stuck losing a cook to assist with those duties,” he explained.

    Once one meal is complete the cooks reset the kitchen, make sure it meets the Army standards and prep for the next meal.

    That mess hall is a 24 hour operation and the soldiers in there really impress me,” Dellipizzi said. “Cooks are lucky if they get a couple hours of sleep at night.”



    Date Taken: 08.21.2015
    Date Posted: 08.26.2015 15:06
    Story ID: 174323
    Location: FORT DRUM , NY, US 

    Web Views: 165
    Downloads: 1