GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- The dining facility here at Camp Normandy again represents U.S. Army Europe in the 2017 U.S. Army-level Philip A. Connelly Award competition for excellence in food service.

The 42-member team of food service specialists and staff at the Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence T. Hickey Dining Facility left a lasting impression on the evaluation team: Each team member was presented with individual certificates of excellence, while the seven best performers were awarded command coins.

The CSM Lawrence T. Hickey DFAC at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria serves 250 meals, three times a day to the students and staff of the 7th Army Training Command Non-Commissioned Officers Academy at Camp Normandy, Grafenwoehr Training Area.

"You set a new standard in food service," said Army evaluator Jim Wulforst, a veteran chef, representing the National Restaurant Association, and 15-year-veteran of military food service competitions. "I have never before seen a cleaner facility and an empowered staff that exudes such professionalism."

Wulforst and Sgt. Maj. Anthony B. Brown, Army Food Service Sergeant Major, inspected the DFAC March 22 during breakfast and lunch. And the DFAC team's performance blew them away.

"There is a lot of scratch-based cooking here," Brown said when asked about what made the food special at this facility. "I find it hard to find anything wrong," he said when evaluating the produce quality, selection and presentation of what he considered an exceptional salad bar.

The CSM Lawrence T. Hickey DFAC has earned a strong reputation within the U.S. Army Europe footprint and across the U.S. Army. It won the Department of Army-level Connelly award in 2005 and was runner-up in 2008.

Brown was also impressed with how receptive the staff were to immediate changes. This was just one way they demonstrated their passion for serving the Soldiers with excellent food, he said.

During the outbrief, Brown advised dining facility manager Adriano R. Colella and his key staff, led by shift leader Karl Rohrer, to keep the team intact and together, allow innovations to continue, ensure staff are recognized for their work and to not become complacent.

"The Army wants to emulate industry," Brown said. The 405th Army Field Support Brigade facility is doing just that.

Given the outstanding performance of the team, Brown and Wulforst recognized seven food specialists -- four are normally recognized -- with a coin. They included Olga Engel, Christian Hoffweller, Nancy Pielucha, Dagmar Reuss, Nico Salzer, Selina Schmalzl and Luise Stauber.

The Philip A. Connelly is awarded annually to both small and large dining facilities. Launched in 1968 after the former President of the International Food Service Executives Association, the award sparks competition between garrison dining facilities and incentivizes excellence in the preparation and service of food. The 2017 winners will be announced in May.