JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Competition looms as the Soldiers of the 564th Field Feeding Company, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command prepare for the 56th Phillip A. Connelly Food Service Competition at Courage Inn Warrior Restaurant, here.
According to organizers, the competition's purpose is to recognize excellence within the Army food service program and to challenge culinary specialists to meet a high standard of service and presentation. Courage Inn will compete in the garrison dining facility operations category, the first level in the competition, in February 2024.
"It'll start with myself creating the meal they're gonna prepare," said Sgt. 1st Class William Harris, the Courage Inn manager. "As a team, we're going to present ourselves with our whole meal and how we bring it together; but individually, we're going to compete on how we follow our recipe cards, how we apply food sanitation standards and how we apply food safety measures. Everybody has their own area but they work as a team to put the meal out."
Harris said the meal he planned to prepare took a lot of research and practice to get his team where they needed to be by the time the competition came around.
"You want to make it challenging, but you don't want to make it too hard for them," Harris said. "Creating the meal, creating repetition, creating familiarity, and confidence in what they're doing and what they're saying. Kind of like no different than doing a rock drill or a maneuvers rehearsal for those that are in combat arms. So it's just repetition for us and getting confidence in what we do."
After the garrison competition, the Courage Inn team would compete at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command level, then at the U.S. Forces Command level, and the final round would be at the Department of the Army.
"The better we get and the better we can be at each level, if we make it there, then the stakes get a lot higher," Harris said.
Harris couldn't specifically say what meal he and his team were planning to prepare for the competition, but he talked about the type of training he put his team through to make them better.
"It's a constant drill and we provide meals three times a day," Harris said. "Every meal is a chance to get better for the competition and it doesn't necessarily have to be the exact same product you're making. The standards still apply: follow recipe cards, cook in the proper temperatures, make sure that you're monitoring the kitchen and your team members and help them out as they go along. That's the one great thing about the competition: it grades us on what we do every day."
Courage Inn will host their Phillip A. Connelly competition meal between February and March 2024. The meals will be available to all Soldiers, Department of Army civilians, and contractors who eat at the dining facility on the days of the competition.
"It's understood JBLM is on top," Harris said.
"No matter what, no matter how many mistakes we make along the way, we're going to be the best."
For more information on the competition, click here.