Daisuke Sugiyama, a cook at the Camp Zama Dining Facility, prepares a tray of greens Friday for lunchtime diners. The DFAC staff received their trophy Wednesday for winning the "Small Garrison" category at the Armywide level of the 2011 Phillip A. Connelly Awards, the results of which were announced in December 2010.

The Camp Zama Dining Facility staff received their trophy Wednesday for winning first place in the "Small Garrison" category of the Army-wide level of the 2011 Phillip A. Connelly Awards, the results of which were announced in December 2010.

DFAC Manager Brad Richardson was presented the trophy by the commander of USARJ and I Corps (Forward), who praised him and his staff of 19 for setting themselves apart and accomplishing "a major achievement."

"[The Connelly competition] probably one of the Army's most stressful competitions," said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr. "The tasks are demanding, the requirements are very stringent, and there is a small margin for error."

The DA-level win was the culmination of the Camp Zama DFAC being named the best in the Installation

Management Command " Pacific regional competition last July. The dining hall previously won at the IMCOMPacific level in 2010, 2008 and 2006.

"The Connelly competition is very big across the Army's food service program, and it's very hard to win at any level," said Richardson, who took over as manager in May. "I've been in many Connelly competitions throughout my military career and I've only won at the DA level one time " that's how tough the competition is."

Competing dining facilities are judged by evaluation teams that grade them in 20 areas of service, including food preparation and quality, food safety, appearance, training, and equipment and facilities.

"They look at your whole food service program," said Richardson, who has more than 20 years of experience in Army food service. "You're graded on how much knowledge your food service personnel have in each category."

It is exactly that level of expertise and professionalism from his Japanese staff that Richardson says helped lead the Camp Zama DFAC to win the Connelly title at the Army level.

"I'm very proud of my team; they are one of the best teams I've ever worked with," said Richardson. "Whatever you ask them to do, they do it " and they do it properly every single time."

The DFAC is open seven days a week and serves breakfast and lunch for up to 1,100 customers during the week, and brunch and supper for about 200 on the weekend " more than 5,000 hot meals per month, said Richardson. His goal is to repeat a DA-level win for the fiscal 2012 competition, the first step of which was completed when Camp Zama once again placed first in the "Small Garrison" category at the IMCOM-Pacific Region last month.

Winning again will take the continued commitment to excellence displayed every day by his staff, said Richardson " and the pressure of other dining facilities looking to reclaim the trophy.

"One of the sayings that we have in the infantry is, 'You are only as good as your last live fire,'" Harrison told the DFAC staff. "The expectation now is that you are the dining facility to beat, so you're going to have to raise your game up another notch."

Page last updated Sat August 20th, 2011 at 00:00