FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The 82nd Sustainment Brigade's field kitchen was assessed by a board of evaluators sent to Fort Bragg on behalf of Forces Command July 29, to discern whether or not they were eligible to compete for the Phillip A. Connelly award, in the field category at the Department of the Army level.
Winning the Phillip A. Connelly award is widely considered to be the biggest achievement possible for an Army kitchen. The kitchen was graded on both a breakfast and lunch meal by FORSCOM during the one-day evaluation. Breakfast consisted of biscuits, eggs, hash-browns, creamed beef, ham, and grits, while lunch consisted of steak, baked chicken, potatoes, string beans and several other entrees.
"There's nothing hard about it, you just have to prepare early," said Spc. Antonio D. Mitchell, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. "It's not hard as long as you use good team work. Our biggest achievement, I think, was preparing lunch. We fed about 200 Soldiers today and we handled it pretty well."
Also competing for the DA level on FORSCOM's behalf are kitchens from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., the 43rd Sustainment Brigade of Fort Carson, Colo., and the 69th Air Defense Artillery from Fort Hood, Texas.
Once a kitchen makes it to the DA level, they compete against opponents outside of the continental United States as well, making the distinction of being the winner of the Phillip A. Connelly award that much sweeter, knowing that they are truly of the best in the Army.
"The Phillip A. Connelly award is like the Super Bowl of food service," said Chief Warrant Officer Princido Texidor, an Arecibo, Puerto Rico native who works for United States Army Garrison, Company A, out of Fort McPherson, Ga., and acts as the FORSCOM Army food service advisor. "It'll give them bragging rights; if they go to the DA level, they're going to be competing with units from all over the world, Germany, Korea, Hawaii, Japan, and other units from the states ... everywhere. They can say that they're the best in the entire Army in field food service if they win."
If Fort Bragg wins FORSCOM will come back to assist by providing the food service specialists with more training to better prepare them to excel and hopefully win at the DA level. The distinction of becoming a Phillip A. Connelly award winning field kitchen has motivated the Soldiers to work very hard, said Texidor.
"The Soldiers were doing an excellent job, highly motivated and taking pride in what they do," said Texidor. "They were very excited."
After the last meal of the day was served, many of the event's participants left with a strong feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Many achievements were made throughout the day, both personal and throughout the unit.
"To me the biggest achievement today was the Soldiers learning how to get things done on time," said Sgt. 1st Class Cedric McCabe, of HHC, 82nd Sustainment Bde., the noncommissioned officer in charge of the field kitchen. "That was the biggest obstacle too. We have a lot of young Soldiers and they're starting to understand pressure."
Aside from judging the food that was prepared, the FORSCOM evaluators also make sure that everything is done within Army food service regulations and guidance, said Texidor.
The event, sponsored by the International Food Service Executives Association, rewards the winning unit's hard work and dedication with an award ceremony in Reno, Nev., in April of 2010.