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    Iowa Army National Guard Culinary Specialists Compete for Award

    Preparing Pork Chops

    Photo By Staff Sgt. William Prahl | Culinary specialists with Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment, 209th...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. William Prahl 

    135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    There is an old saying, an army marches on its stomach. Most would agree on the logic of this statement. However, they may not know what it really takes to safely get quality food to Soldiers on the battlefield. The Army’s culinary specialist occupation is the driving force in making the food preparation process run smoothly and getting Soldiers the food they need to stay in the fight.

    The Philip A. Connelly Award program is a way to evaluate and reward culinary specialists who are responsible for feeding the U.S Army. In partnership with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) the award recognizes excellence in the Army food service. Active, Reserve and National Guard units are able to compete for the award.

    The culinary specialists of the 109th Medical Battalion, 67th Troop Command, Iowa Army National Guard had an opportunity to compete for this award on July 24, 2019, at Camp Ripley, Minn. during the units participation in an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) rotation. XCTC tests brigade combat teams in platoon level operations as well as the real-life support elements required to support the Soldiers.

    The Connelly Award competition assesses units that best exhibit food setup, site selection, field sanitation, storage of rations, security of the site, head-count procedures and movement of Soldiers. The location of where the Soldiers eat is also considered and if they have adequate cover and protection from the elements.

    Chief Warrant Officer 2 Keith Watson, state food advisor, Joint Force Headquarters, Delaware Army National Guard was one of three evaluators from the National Guard Bureau grading the culinary specialist’s performance. With 25 years experience in both military and civilian food science, he offers his expertise in grading the performance of culinary specialists.

    “A lot of people think this is a culinary evaluation,” said Watson. “It is not. It’s a logistic and operations evaluation. It’s this unit’s ability to take their MTOE [modified table of organization and equipment] field feeding assets, to include personnel and equipment, go to an austere environment and sustain themselves.”

    The 109th culinary team was lead by Sgt. Amanda Jacobson, first culinary Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the mess section. Jacobsen interacted with the evaluators, answering their questions, while simultaneously directing her team in successfully completing various tasks.

    “My observations of the sergeant [Jacobsen] running this, is she is very cool and collected,” said Watson. “A lot of folks, they kind of fall apart. She has reacted and you can tell this is well-planned.”

    The bulk of activity in the event centered in and around the Mobile Kitchen Trailer (MKT). The MKT is an expandable self-contained mobile kitchen facility utilized for the preparation of meals for approximately 250-300 Soldiers. The stoves and ovens running in the confined space of the MKT coupled with the July heat made the conditions almost as intense as the pressure from the scrutiny of the evaluators.

    The culinary specialists manned different positions in the serving area. Not only were they toiling in extreme heat in the MKT but also cleaning cookware in the Food Sanitation Center (FSC), shuttling supplies from the dry rations tent or refrigeration trailer and organizing the initial food line where salad and fruits were served.

    At one point during the competition the culinary specialist realized that their flour supply was depleted from a previous recipe leaving none for the soup. The team quickly adapted, made a change to a recipe, which is allowed under the rules, and used cheese sauce powder instead as a substitute for a thickening agent.

    “That in my mind is what this is all about,” said Watson. “They’re reacting. Being operationally sound. Being able to go, ‘Okay, I’m not going to serve water and I can take components of what I have and make an acceptable adjustment to the menu.’ That’s a professional food service Soldier.”

    Part of the grading process and the culmination of the competition included serving the meal to troops. Soldiers from the 109th Medical Battalion lined up ready for dinner. The menu for the evening was; pork chops, potatoes and gravy, green beans, cornbread, salad, and fresh cut fruit.

    Spc. Luke Chapman, a supply specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 109th Medical Battalion, 67th Troop Command, Iowa Army National Guard offered a glowing review of the culinary section.

    “They’re doing a really great job,” said Chapman. “All of the food has been really well prepared. You really can’t ask for more.”

    The results of the competition will be released in August and the winner of region four will go on to compete in the national Department of the Army competition. Two representatives from both the national winner and runner-up units will be able to attend the NRA’s annual multi-unit food show in Chicago. The winners can also attend culinary training at Kendall College, which is partnered with both the Connelly Award and the NRA.

    The award is named after Philip A. Connelly, who was a pioneer in food service management and made lasting contributions to both the civilian industry and military services.



    Date Taken: 07.24.2019
    Date Posted: 07.31.2019 12:54
    Story ID: 333462
    Location: CAMP RIPLEY, MN, US 
    Hometown: ARGYLE, IA, US
    Hometown: DAVENPORT, IA, US
    Hometown: DENTON, MD, US
    Hometown: IOWA CITY, IA, US
    Hometown: NORTH LIBERTY, IA, US

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    Iowa Army National Guard Culinary Specialists Compete for Award