BAGHDAD-Sgt. Brock D. Chase (left), of Rocky Mount, N.C., Spc. James D. Hinks (center), of Henderson, N.C., and Spc. Elizabeth Lawson, of Riegelwood, N.C., make a crab boil at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, Iraq, May 22.

BAGHDAD - Sgt. Brock D. Chase, of Rocky Mount, N.C., with Company E, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team knows all about keeping the troops happy.

In the 100-degree afternoon heat in a small, 20-foot square kitchen at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah recently, Chase carefully inspected mounds of split king crab legs, ensuring the seasoning is just right.

The dining facility serves nearly 1,000 meals at a time. More than 20 Company E Soldiers and 30 civilian contractors from around the world work 11-hour shifts prepping, cooking and serving meals, and keeping the kitchen clean.

"It needs more," says Chase, as he sends Spc. Elizabeth Lawson, a Company E cook, from Riegelwood, N.C., to the spice rack. She quickly comes back with an armful of seasoning containers-white pepper, chili powder, paprika, which are poured into the vat holding hundreds of crab legs.

"I like it when the Soldiers say 'mmmm, that is good,'" said Lawson.

Chase paces the kitchen, checking every detail and sampling the food as he did in civilian life as a restaurant owner. He sold his restaurant, "The Big Cheese," before deploying with the brigade earlier this year.

Critics have sometimes complained about Army food, but Chase brushes that off. "As long as the Soldier is happy I do not pay attention to anyone else," he said.

Page last updated Wed June 17th, 2009 at 12:09