DFAC manager leads Devil's Den team to win
December 6, 2010
- 1st Infantry Division, Big Red One, Fort Riley, Thanksgiving, Dining Facility, civilian work force, CG's Best Thanksgiving DFAC
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Latonya Parrott, Devil's Den dining facility manager, has worked at Fort Riley for 20 years in food service. But for the past year, her main goal was to regain her DFAC's title as the best.
Parrot and Devil's Den earned the award for the Commanding General's Best Thanksgiving Dining Facility in 2008. After a tie in 2009, Parrot was determined to make 2010 her year. All it took, she said, was a lot of preparation.
"I've only had an hour and a half of sleep in 24 hours," she said Thanksgiving Day, adding she wouldn't change that for anything. "It was fun, and I think what I like the most about it is that we work on a normal day basis, but we don't really get a chance to sit and talk to each other - just have fun, let your hair down. We did this time, and we really enjoyed it."
The hard work - and the fun - paid off. Devil's Diner was announced as the 2010 winner at the Commander's Update Assessment Nov. 29, and Parrott was later notified.
"My staff said I was in here shouting. I was just excited," Parrot said. "It was great and everybody was happy, high-fiving, cheering. It boosts the morale of everybody that's here, and we all feel awesome."
Parrott attributes her staff's hard work and willingness to "jump in" with the dining facility's success.
Originally from Mobile, Ala., Parrott arrived at Fort Riley more than 20 years ago when her husband, Lindsley Parrott, who also helped her prepare for this Thanksgiving, was stationed at Fort Riley. The couple spent all eight years of his active-duty career at Fort Riley.
"When I got here, (cooking) was all I knew," Parrot said. "My mom and dad were excellent cooks. I was 6 years old when I learned to cook. When I was back in Mobile, when I first started, that was my passion.
And, she said, it still is today.
"This is my passion - to serve others and to see their smiles and joy," Parrott said, adding that serving Soldiers makes her day.
"I look at the Soldiers, some of them coming back from war, and they don't have any Family, and I want to be part of their Family," she said. "I tell them, 'I couldn't go with you in body, but I went with you in spirit.'"
Parrott now has her sights set on this year's Christmas meal, but then, it's back to thinking about how to hold on to Devil's Den's title.
"I think I will keep it the same, maybe put some more displays up," she said. "To me, it was the team effort and the team spirit that made the difference. Everybody rallied behind each other, which made it all worthwhile. That's all we need."