JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Colonel Peter Crandall, commander, 404th Army Field Support Brigade, presented the Fiscal Year 2018 Regional Philip A. Connelly Award in the Garrison Dining Facility Category to the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, during a ceremony here Dec. 11.

The Philip A. Connelly program is a food service competition facilitated by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, headquartered at Fort Lee, Virginia, in coordination with the Department of the Army and the National Restaurant Association.

The competition provides opportunities to raise culinary excellence and professionalism in food service operations throughout the Army, according to the JCCoE.

The evaluators are extremely thorough and scrupulous in their assessments at every level, said Master Sgt. Candice Williamson, senior brigade culinary management non-commissioned officer, 16th CAB.

"This has been a long hard road, and we have gained a lot of experience and knowledge through the journey," she said. "Simply put, we are the best. We took the constructive criticism at every level of this competition and implemented changes."

To receive the award, the 16th CAB underwent evaluations from 7th Infantry Division, I Corps, and the 404th AFSB over the course of several months.

Evaluators scored the unit in 11 areas including:
- Training and supervision
- Dining facility administration
- Headcount procedures
- Receipt and storage operations
- Food service sanitation and safety
- Command support
- Appearance and attitude of food service personnel
- Serving and troop accountability
- Dining area
- Equipment and safety
- Food preparation and quality

Beginning in January 2018, the 16th CAB is scheduled to compete for the Department of the Army Philip A. Connelly Award alongside four other regional award recipients.

"We have worked together as a team in order to get to this level, and continue to grow and learn while moving forward," said Williamson. "We are confident and are looking forward to the challenge at the DA level."

During the final phase of the competition, the JCCoE is scheduled to directly evaluate the Raptors' Nest Dining Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"Nerves are a part of the challenge and will help us to grow and get better at this," said Williamson. "Every step is a learning experience, and we are excited about the next level."