Joint Base Cape Cod, Mass. - There was the usual smell of diesel in the air while pulling through the Entry Control Point of the 1058th Transportation Company's area of operation at Joint Base Cape Cod, March 16, 2019. But upon arriving closer to the Food Service Section's Mobile Kitchen Trailer (MKT), there was a different smell. It was almost, and that new smell in the air indicated Army chow today was going to be a lot better than being tossed an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat).

"We're having chicken parmesan, corn, and they served up a great carrot cake," said Cpt. James Bower, commander of the 1058th Transportation Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard. "You would think you were out dining in the civilian world."

The meal today was a typical meal for the 1058th, and because of their excellent culinary skills, they are participating in the 51st Philip A. Connelly Awards Program for Excellence in Army Food Service Reserve Component Field Feeding Category Department of Army Phase Competition. There was a regional competition, and they were selected along with Alaska, Minnesota and Rhode Island to compete at the Department of the Army level.

The Philip A. Connelly Awards Program is named after Philip Connelly of Framingham, Mass., who was a leader in food service management. The program was designed to improve the professionalism of food service personnel and provide recognition for excellence in the preparation and serving of food in Army dining facilities and field kitchen operations.

Providing incentives and training the food service specialists to prepare nutritious and delicious food is beneficial not only for stateside training environments but it gives them the experience of preparing meals while deployed as well.

The Philip A. Connelly Program is aligned with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the Department of the Army (DA), Deputy Chief of Staff, G4. The Joint Culinary Center of Excellence (JCCoE), Special Programs Directorate (SPD) administers the program.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Langille, one of the Department of the Army evaluators for the competition, said that the winner and runner up will be announced in April.

"The unit will be notified if they're the winners and in May, the NRA, the National Restaurant Association, has a big show in Chicago, and they come to the show to get their presentation of the winning trophy that they received," said Langille.

He explained that the units are evaluated on the in-brief they provide to the evaluators in the morning, the layout of the field site, the maintenance of the equipment, the preparation of the meal itself and the way the meal comes out in the end.

According to Bower, there was over six months of planning. The culinary team, led by Sgt. Lacy Phongsaly, prepared practice meals and conducted training with her team before this event.

"I have a great team, we're all very positive," said Phongsaly, culinary sergeant, 1058th TC.

Her team of culinary specialists included Spc. Patrick Lilley, a financial manager, Pvt. 1st Class Farrah Antoine, a registered nurse at the Veterans Administration and Pvt. 1st Class Erika Caban, a TSA agent and recent applicant to become a K9 agent.

The food service specialists were not the only ones that made the team successful. The field sanitation team also had to go through a lengthy certification process. The maintenance section set up a generator and set up one on standby to power the equipment, and mechanics with a maintenance contact truck was readily available if there was equipment failure during the evaluation.

"Dedication from the Food Service Section and the supporting elements of the Field Sanitation Team, Kitchen Patrol Members, Cash Collection NCO, and Head Counter saw the section compete and succeed at the Regional level June 2018. We are excited to have been selected to participate at the Department of Army level," said Sgt. 1st Class Katherine Cross, 1058th TC.