BAGHDAD - Cooks from the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st
Cavalry Division work in the dining facility at Joint Security Station War Eagle to create satisfying and high quality meals for Soldiers.

"Our goal is to give the highest quality meals to Soldiers who come and eat at JSS War Eagle," said Worcester, Mass. native, Staff Sgt. Lorne Robbins, the dining facility manager assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div.

To ensure that products keep their serviceable quality, cooks receive food deliveries about once every four days. Robbins has been very pleased with how well the supplier works with them.

"They can't always have everything we need," said Robbins, "but they do really well in trying to get it for us."

Providing enough food is only part of the job.

"Outside of making sure that there is enough food for all the Soldiers and trying to keep our job from growing tedious," said Robbins, "I enjoy working at the chow hall, and getting to see the smiling faces every day. I also get to work on making better food for our Soldiers."

Robbins isn't the only person who enjoys working in the dining facility and seeing the smiling faces of Soldiers as they enjoy their food.

"I really enjoy what I do," said Newport, R.I. native, Pfc. Andre Barrett, a cook assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, attached to the "Ironhorse" Brigade. "I lived in the Caribbean for awhile, so I like cooking an Army standard meal with a Caribbean flair."

The cooks make meals better by preparing high quality food for Soldiers as well as providing a slice of home for the troops, especially around holidays.

"On major holidays, like Christmas, we'll come in earlier and peel potatoes for homemade mashed potatoes instead of instant. We will also cook huge turkeys for the Soldiers. It's the little things that we are trying to do for them," said Robbins.

Not only do the cooks use holidays to try and make the dining hall a better place, they are combining ideas and investing in new 'trinkets' for Soldiers to enjoy. A Panini grill, slush machine and condiment rack have already been purchased and set up, the next plan is to have an ice cream bar on the weekends.

"There is always room for improvement, no matter what you are doing," said Barrett. "This is the reason we keep looking for ways to improve the dining hall."

Formulating new and creative ways to improve the dining hall is not the only objective for the cooks. The staff considers what they are going to serve for each meal by using an initial menu created by senior food operators located at Camp Taji.

"If a Soldier asks about having their favorite meal, we can easily comply with their request
as long as we have all the right ingredients and supplies," said Robbins. "All they have to do
is say something."

Requesting a favorite meal isn't the only reason a Soldier should talk to the cooks. For instance, if a Soldier has a food allergy, he should immediately inform the cooks. The cooks know what is in each product, and can help the Soldier prevent any reactions.

"We are here for the Soldiers," said Robbins, "and here to serve only the best quality food to the best Soldiers."