ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Army News Service, June 21, 2007) - The host of the Food Network's "Ace of Cakes" toured the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools here June 11 to find inspiration for an Army birthday cake.

Host Duff Goldman and Executive Sous Chef Geof Manthorne designed an M-1 Abrams-shaped cake that was unveiled in honor of the Army's 232nd Birthday June 14 during a Baltimore Orioles' home game against the Washington Nationals.

"This is a great opportunity for us and one of the fun things we don't get to do often," said Col. Frank Merritt, OC&S chief of staff. "I hope that Duff gets a good representation of what we do in the Army and what our Soldiers go through."

Col. Merritt gave Mr. Goldman and Mr. Manthorne an overview of OC&S.

"Before 9/11, we focused on basic combat training," Col. Merritt said. "Now, after Soldiers are finished with BCT, they receive technical training and hand-to-hand combat skills they need to survive in the war on terrorism."

Mr. Goldman and Mr. Manthorne rode in a Stryker armored combat vehicle and an M-1 Abram, and saw antique swords and an assault rifle, modern mortars, machine guns, and the Virtual Convoy Combat Trainer, a series of trailers that contain High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles and panoramic screens.

Mr. Goldman and Mr. Manthorne talked with Soldiers about their experiences in Iraq during lunch in the mess hall.

"It's an honor that they would visit Soldiers here," said Sgt. 1st Class David Holmes. "It shows that they are appreciative of the things we're doing.

"It's pretty amazing to see the amount of preparation and work OC&S does to prepare Soldiers, machinery and weapons," Mr. Goldman said after hearing how training helped save Soldiers' lives. "It takes a great deal of dedication to keep up with systems and weapons that are constantly changing."

He said that he knows how much effort it takes to make a finished cake and because of the tour, knows the effort and training it takes to prepare a Soldier for duty.

"Ace of Cakes" airs 10:30 p.m. Thursdays on the Food Network. Mr. Goldman and his team tackle a new challenge each week and often shape cakes with blowtorches, drills and saws. The Army-birthday episode is scheduled to air in September.

(Heather Tassmer writes for "APG News.")