WHITE SANDS, N.M. - Culinary specialists from G Company, 47th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, participated in the III Corps-level evaluation for an Army-wide culinary competition held at Fort Bliss' Dona Ana Range, White Sands, New Mexico, March 4.
The competition is a part of the Phillip A. Connelly Award program, which recognizes food service branch personnel across the Army and promotes professionalism.
Representing the "Old Ironsides" Division in the program's Army Field Feeding category, the culinary team used a monthlong field training exercise held by 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery, to showcase their abilities.
"We have been out here on a daily basis, feeding 350-400 Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Manuel Grajeda, G Company, senior food operations sergeant. "The leadership found it in the best interest of the command to capitalize on this opportunity and show that we are not just playing a role, but we are committed to our craft."
Along with a concertina wire parameter and security force, to include M109 Paladins, the culinary team's fully functional field feeding area was established to demonstrate their full potential.
"When I arrived in this unit, I saw a remarkable group of Soldiers making it happen," said Grajeda, a former recruiter and NCO Academy instructor, now a 12-year food service veteran. "I knew from that moment this was a team that could win a DA-level award."
Performing to standards worthy of a DA-level competition is key, but it is these standards that III Corps chief food operations management, Sgt. Maj. Timothy Woods, said are essential to food service in the Army.
"When we come out to evaluate food service operation, [inspectors] are checking to make sure that the teams are following regulations and upholding the standards," said Woods, who is in charge of running the corps' food program. "Aside from ensuring that food is properly prepared and Soldiers are trained and know how to use their equipment, we also evaluate how well they understand the overall concept of operations."
Woods added that while he and his team also come out to coach, teach and mentor - all the while making comments on food preparation, serving technique, and area appearance - that this is still a competition.
With the unit's III Corps-level evaluation complete, G Company Soldiers will have to wait until their III Corps competitors at Forts Riley, Carson, Hood and Sill are evaluated before III Corps announces who will move on to the FORSCOM-level competition.