21st TSC cooks use recipe for success in competition

Master Sgt. Derrick Crawford, Story and photo
21st Theater Support Command

***image1***Combining leftovers with oatmeal cookies is not the conventional way to
make a blueberry crisp, but it’s just the sort of creativity that may
earn 29th Support Group cooks the Army’s top food service award.

Three judges from the Army Center of Excellence and Subsistence, which
sponsors the annual Phillip A. Connelly food service competition,
evaluated the 29th’s field kitchen operations while serving food at a
Rhine Ordnance Barracks training site Oct. 25. They factor
resourcefulness as an essential aspect of the competition.

“Under normal conditions, if you were going by a standard recipe card,
you wouldn’t have all of the materials here to make a blueberry crisp,
but you can make something just as good, which is what they are doing.
That’s using imagination, being creative,” said evaluator and ACES Sgt.
Maj. Tom Munson.

The idea is to take a basic boxed meal and use other food goods on hand to enhance it, he said.

“We took the blueberries and used oatmeal cookies and some leftover
waffles to make the crust,” said Pfc. David Wood, a cook from 5th
Maintenance Company. “We don’t waste anything out here. Staff Sgt.
(Nathan) Read came up with the idea. He’s been doing this for a long
time and he’s training us very well.”

Additionally, the cooks prepared what they called “Dragon Chicken,” a
rotisserie-style chicken with a little barbecue sauce on it, along with
potato au gratin, carrots, soup and salad.

Although they showed that the art of cooking is not lost in the field,
the cooks know evaluators took a hard look at how well they maintained
the site’s cleanliness.

“This not only has to do with putting out the best quality food, but
also has to do with sanitation,” said Sgt. Maj. Munson, who has served
more than 30 years in the food service field. “If the unit’s sanitation
is down, our force protection level goes down because when Soldiers get
ill, the unit is not mission-capable.”

The judges roamed throughout the barbed-wired encased site peppering
Soldiers with questions as they went about the tasks involved in
putting all components of a field dining site into play.

“We’re watching how they perform and testing their knowledge,” said
evaluator Art Ritt, a Department of Defense civilian. “The important
thing is teamwork, everybody pitching in to do and do it the right way.
We’re looking for leadership.”

Mr. Ritt, a consultant in the food and hospitality industry for 30
years, said it’s evident “they know their jobs, be it sanitation, the
headcount or dining room attendant.”

That’s a product of pride in their jobs and a commitment to training,
said Lt. Col. Richard Dix, 29th SG rear commander. “It’s about these
Soldiers. They’ve been working hard,” said Lt. Col. Dix. “The cooks
take it very personal. They’re Soldiers and they like to practice their
craft out in the field.

“I’m very proud of what they have done. We feel very confident that we’re going to win the Army-level competition.”