U.S. Army Europe food service specialist earns Army award for innovative field kitchen design
October 28, 2011
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Most Soldiers can probably tell you what it's like to live on MREs, and which field meals are their favorites. And most would probably agree that the monotony of eating them for days on end makes them crave something more.
Spc. Shaunta Cain, a food service specialist from U.S. Army Europe's Bravo Battery, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, is helping the Army cook up that "something more."
Cain designed a new piece of equipment she says will make life easier for deployed Soldiers -- though MRE salesmen might not like it much. Her idea, the Individual Kitchen, makes it possible to quickly feed real food to Soldiers in remote areas.
The design won Cain an individual award at the Department of the Army's first Food Advisor Innovation Award competition at the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Va.
Cain heard about the competition from one of her mentors, Sgt. Rory Davis, who she says inspired her during their deployment by cooking for the Soldiers in their unit on just two pieces of kitchen equipment.
The kitchen will benefit Soldiers and cooks in the field, she said. Packed inside the unit are a stove with two ovens, a tilt griddle, warming and cold cabinets, a 50-gallon water storage unit, work surfaces, storage, a serving window and serving tables.
The self-sustaining kitchen is also compact and fairly "green." Equipped with a solar generator and a water filtration system to provide clean water at times when potable water is not available on site, the unit is designed to be used by one or two cooks. It can easily be transported or air-dropped into austere locations where a full-sized field kitchen cannot be deployed easily or quickly.
"It's very small. It's for remote areas," Cain said. "You can bring the kitchen in and just start cooking,"
"'Modularity' is the new buzzword for future food service equipment, and her design checks all the boxes," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Georgene Davis, the U.S. Army Food Advisor. "It is amazing to see a junior Soldier so creative and in tune with food service. When I received the submission from Cain I could not believe a specialist had created this design."
"If I was deployed this kitchen would allow me he flexibility to operate with less personnel," said Davis. "In today's Army … doing more with less is critical."
Cain's supervisors should be proud, Davis added, because they have trained her well and she is a reflection of their commitment to excellence.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 James D. Donaldson, the USAREUR food advisor, said this new kitchen design could be a real boost to Soldiers, by providing an efficient and effective means to feed more real food to troops engaged in remote operations.
"With the current trend in the U.S. Army toward downsizing or right-sizing our forces, and the way we are fighting our current battles, Spc. Cain's kitchen design is something that would not only benefit USAREUR, but the Army as a whole," said Donaldson. "Spc. Cain's design allows commanders to deploy individual Soldiers to support small elements and be capable of cooking all types of rations within our family of rations."
Cain's design is currently being developed by the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center at Natick, Mass., where its key components are expected to be combined with elements from other designs to create a working test model kitchen, said Gregg Gildea, Food Service Equipment Team Leader at Natick.