FORT LEE, Va. (June 1, 2017) -- The Army's best dining facility operations were announced during a gala event May 19 in Chicago.

Winners of the 49th Philip A. Connelly Awards Program for Excellence in Army Food Service were recognized at the annual Military Food Service Awards ceremony hosted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

The winners are:

Best garrison food operation --- 405th Army Field Service Brigade, Logistics Readiness Center Bavaria, Grafenwoehr, Germany.

Best active Army field kitchen -- Echo Troop, 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii.

Best Army Reserve field kitchen -- Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 391st Military Police Battalion, Columbus, Ohio.

Best Army National Guard field kitchen -- Echo Company, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Battalion, Windsor Locks, Conn.

Brig. Gen. Rodney Fogg, Quartermaster General and Quartermaster School commandant, and his senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Sean Rice, Quartermaster Corps Regimental CSM, were among the Fort Lee representatives on hand to present the awards. The QM School administers the Connelly awards program.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Charles H. Talley Jr., Philip A. Connelly program officer, Special Programs Directorate at the QM School's Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, oversaw the evaluation of dining facilities at installations in four countries leading up to the announcement. He said the winners earned their distinction.

"The four winning teams were spot on with their execution and intent," he said, noting all met stringent judging criteria. "Their training effectiveness and efficiencies led to the end results."

Talley also said this year's competition revealed a great deal of individual effort, especially at the lowest level.

"Our most precious resources are our young culinary specialists," he said. "We saw support at every level affecting the training and development of those Soldiers in a way that contributed to the overall success of their operations."

The Connellys, established in 1968, is a mandated Department of the Army program that promotes food service readiness while supporting commanders and their missions. It focuses on management practices, customer service, accountability and sustainment operations. Its namesake was a food service manager who worked diligently to promote professionalism in civilian and military sectors.

Connelly winners in each category bested rivals in several subordinate events prior to competing at the DA level.

As a result of finishing first in their respective categories, teams were scheduled to receive food service management training at Kendall College in Chicago. Additionally, two members of each team will be afforded training at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America's Greystone, Calif., campus.

In light of how dining facilities operate from a management perspective, Talley said the foundation of success rests with the individual Soldiers, and the pride and spirit evident in their performances this year may set the stage for continued improvement next year.

Talley said all the food service operations in this year's competition should be commended for their contributions to mission readiness. Each showed there was much substance to simply competing in an event for accolades.

"At the end of the day, they want to be the best of the best," he said. "It's not thinking about a trophy or we get to go to the awards ceremony. They want that label of knowing they are the best of the best, and that's what the Connelly program represents. It is the epitome of what culinary excellence should be."