CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - "I've been looking forward to this," said Sgt. First Class Raymond Thompson, strength management NCOIC, Third Army, as he tunneled his way through a mound of dressing to the turkey beneath. Deployed here since October, Thompson, said he was enjoying his Christmas meal, despite being away from family.
"It's pretty darn good," smiled his dining companion, Warrant Officer Marilyn Gunn, 3rd Human Resources Center, here on her first deployment. A reservist based out of Richmond, Virginia, Gunn said she was impressed with the displays and food quality.
Dining Facility #2, nestled among a small desert mall of eateries and shops, provides three meals daily for all the troops and civilians who work in Zone two of this camp. The "Zone 2 DFAC" team is led by Sgt. First Class Darrin K. Douglas, food operations NCOIC, 1st Theater Sustainment Command and is comprised of 18 Tamimi Global contracted employees and 15 U.S. Army cooks.
A 22 year veteran and Morehead City native, who has been with the 1TSC for the past two years, Douglas said his Christmas plan was to provide "the same high quality food and strive to exceed the standard." Based on customer reactions, the team appears to have met that goal.
"There is but one term useable for the decorations in all of the events at the DFAC...Phenomenal!!!," said Vincent Franklin, intelligence officer, 1TSC. "They do such an amazing job there during the holidays....everyone goes sightseeing in the chow hall; the displays are great." Franklin, a former Marine, also participated in the Army tradition by serving junior team members their holiday meal.
The team worked for days in advance, preparing hundreds of pounds of food, carving dozens of potatoes, melons and onions, and baking over a dozen cakes and pies to provide a bounty of Christmas favorites.
The display themes were developed through combined efforts. "Because the TCNs are expert culinary personnel, they have honed their skills from years of experience," explained Douglas. "A vast majority of our Soldiers/NCOs in the DFAC have had some extended food service training. Both teams came together as a collective to build ideas."
Douglas provided direction and oversight while Krishna Panthi, DFAC Manager, Tamimi Global, provided input to the contracted team members. The team sculpted and painted a traditional manger scene, a beverage bar, carvings and cake displays. They even incorporated a water feature and snow blowing winter scene, all to "show respect and consideration," for their fellow Soldier-cooks and those serving here, far away from home, said Spc. Anthony Valencia, food service specialist, 217th Trans. Co.
"What contributes to the overall team effort is the cohesion that the TCNs and the military personnel have," said Douglas. "We both strive for the best we can do every opportunity we have."
The combined team's spirit de corps was not lost on their customers.
"They seem to take pride in surprising us with such great displays and such a wonderful spread of food," said Franklin. "They really appear to take pride in their work over there; this is a morale booster that I greatly appreciate."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16