By Kimberly Fritz, Fort Lee Public AffairsJanuary 9, 2009
Fort Lee, Va. (Jan. 8, 2009) -- For the next year, the Roy L. Morrow Consolidated Dining Facility will be known as Fort Lee's best dining facility.
Dining Facility 3002, which serves meals to approximately 800 hungry patrons three times a day, won Best Dining Facility of the Year for fiscal year 2008 in the Commanding General's Best Facility Awards Program. Awards for best dining facility manager, installation best cook, best food service worker and best facility attendant were also distributed to deserving members of Team Lee.
Ray Hosey, food service specialist for the installation food program, said the contestants are judged on a number of elements relevant to their positions.
"It is very competitive," Hosey said.
The dining facilities are judged based on administration, atmosphere, menu planning, sanitation and customer satisfaction. While units assigned to the DFAC rotate on a schedule, other patrons arrive early for lunch. One group of Marines goes out of their way to dine at 3002 every day.
"We eat here for lunch every day. The rest of our class eats at another dining facility, but we choose to come here even though they open a half hour later," said Pfc. Brandon Ellis, U.S. Marine Corps Detachment student. "The food here is superb. One day we came for lunch and they had crab legs. I don't know what the occasion was but it was great."
The personnel at the five dining facilities on Fort Lee strive for perfection every day. Each quarter represents another opportunity to compete for an award while improving aspects of the food service program.
Johnnie Durant, installation food program manager, said the competitions are a vehicle to recognize excellence in the operation of food service, ensure uniform standards for the command food service program, enhance the professionalism of the overall installation food service program and improve the standards of quality and service to the customer.
Annette Tomes is the winner of fiscal year 2008 Best Dining Facility Manager of the Year title. She has worked to feed Fort Lee forces since 1981. Recruited for a cooking job during her senior year of high school, Tomes became head cook within the first year and reached the status of manager a few months later. She is a repeat winner in these competitions, having earned Facility Manager of the Quarter at least five times.
She credits her success and longevity in the industry with the enthusiasm she has for people, particularly Soldiers.
"I love feeding people," Tomes said. "I guess that's why I am still here, the passion I have for taking care of the Soldiers, sometimes I think I've earned my own stripes."
Tomes has always gone out of the way for those who come through the lines in her facility.
"I remember one Soldier who had his jaw broken and he wasn't eating very much," she said. "His drill sergeant asked us if there was anything we could do to help him. We purAfAed his food for a few weeks and helped him gain back some of the weight he had lost. While we aren't dieticians, we are charged with taking care of Soldiers."
Tomes said the Soldiers are the reason she is employed and she strives to make their days a little bit better, with a hot meal, a warm atmosphere and a friendly smile. She motivates her employees to give Soldiers the best meal possible and the utmost respect.
Virginia Jackson was named Installation Cook of the Year, which is fitting since she works at the year's best dining facility. Jackson began her career as a dining facility attendant years ago while her husband served as a photographer in the Army. Working in facilities throughout the United States and in Germany, she eventually became a cook.
Jackson said she found satisfaction cooking for the scores of Soldiers who nourished their bodies on the food she's prepared.
"I love to cook," she said. "I always have."
Jackson has been working as a cook at the dining facilities on Fort Lee since 1999. She has not competed in the Commanding General's Best Facility Awards Program before this year but doing so has created a competitive nature in her. She looks forward to competing again for best cook of the quarter.
For each competition, the cooks are evaluated in 10 different categories, taste, food preparation, presentation, use of kitchen equipment, use of garnish, measurement procedures, use of recipe card, cleanliness, attitude and personal appearance.