RENO, Nev. (April 15, 2010) -- Food service personnel from across the Army received hands-on professional development training from the culinary staff at the John Ascuaga's Nugget Hotel here during the 2010 Philip A. Connelly Awards Program and Conference.

Over the course of two days, selected Soldiers from the winner and runner-up teams of the awards program received training on culinary and food service skills along with operational procedures. Classes included instruction on Southwestern cooking, Asian cooking, sourdough breads, hors d'oeurves, buffet presentation, quick desserts, Chinese appetizers and an overview of restaurant operations.

The training kicked off Monday with executive chef for the Nugget Hotel, Michael Norton, providing a tour and operational overview for the participants. During the tour, he explained how the hotel culinary staff of more than 800 managed daily operations for the hotel's eight major restaurants, plus room service.

The first period of instruction following the tour was an introduction to sourdough breads where participants were shown the proper way to roll balls of dough. Skip Tipton, assistant pastry chef for the Nugget, explained the process of "feeding the mother," which he described as adding equal parts of flour and water to the starter bread yeast. Tipton shared with the group that the particular starter used in the hotel was originally created in 1890 and had been at the hotel for approximately 50 years.

From sourdough, the Soldiers moved into training with Mario Fregoso, the head chef for several restaurants, who specializes in Mexican cuisine. Fregoso showed the Soldiers how to make chili rellenos, tamales and Spanish rice. After the demonstration, the Soldiers donned plastic gloves, formed an assembly line and prepared trays of the aforementioned Mexican food which they sampled afterward.

The first day wrapped up with an introduction to Chinese appetizers where Soldiers learned how to make wontons, egg rolls and Asian barbecue sauce for pork ribs. For many Soldiers, it was the first time preparing this type of food.

"I had never made egg rolls before, but always really liked them," said Sgt. Anita Bowman, 11th Armored Calvary Regiment, Fort Irwin, Calf. "Now that I see how easy it is, I'm going to buy the ingredients and make them myself."

Day two was described by Norton as a "sweet day," where Soldiers learned various types of quick desserts to include milk chocolate brule, whipped cream and chocolate mousse. They also learned how to make quenelle mousse and smoked Salmon mousse.

The training was held in conjunction with the week-long Army food service awards program and conference, which is held jointly with the Navy and Military Sealift Command programs. Connelly is managed by the Quartermaster School's Joint Culinary Center of Excellence and co-sponsored by the International Food Service Executives Association and the Department of the Army G-4.

The program honors those professionals, Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians, who rise above the standard and continually demonstrate excellence in food service.

The conference will conclude with a joint awards ceremony Saturday where trophy bowls and plaques will be presented.