By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee TravellerJuly 25, 2007
FORT LEE, Va. (Army News Service, July 26, 2007) Aca,!" While researching the evolution of military subsistence, producers of the Food Network show, "The Secret Life Of...," looked no further than the U.S. military to find the world's best-fed fighting force.
That trail led them to the heart of military subsistence, the Quartermaster Center and School here, where servicemembers and civilians have spent past 47 years working to keep warriorsAca,!a,,c minds off their stomachs and on the mission.
A five-man production crew visited the center this month to shoot scenes for a 30-minute show featuring military subsistence, which is expected to air this November or December.
"Our show will detail back in the day, ancient times," said Philip Brody, the show's director and writer. "We'll go back to the Roman army and kind of trace military meals to today. This (Fort Lee) is really the pinnacle of providing quality meals in army-sized quantities and adhering to what wasn't done back then."
On air since 2003, "The Secret Life OfAca,!A|" highlights the history of food and why people eat what they eat.
The production crew shot footage of food service specialists training in mobile, portable kitchens, and interviewed some of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs culinary professionals, like Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jack C. Van Zanten.
"I think the show will give our civilian counterparts an idea of what food service Soldiers have to do and some of the challenges they face in preparing meals in a field environment," said the Army's food service advisor.
George Duran, show host and a Europe-trained culinary artist, said he and other crewmembers held less-than-ideal perceptions of Army food service before their visit. But those perceptions changed.
"Having gone through culinary school in France, this is quite similar, actually, to what I've been through in terms of my studies," he said.
Mr. Duran was referring to the curriculum and facilities within the Advanced Culinary Skills Course, where the military's best cooks earn their stripes in the kitchen.
Many of the students enrolled in the course are destined to be enlisted aides, military members who prepare meals for generals and admirals among other duties.
The crew was afforded the opportunity to sample some of their culinary creations. Again, their perceptions improved.
"I think you do have a stereotypical image of something that is just not going to be very good, the mystery meat or something like that," said Kerry Lambert, supervising producer. "It absolutely wasn't, I mean, that chicken was really, really good."
The production crew spent about six hours gathering content to support the show's storyline. But more importantly, they gained a greater understanding of Army food service and the training that goes into feeding Soldiers.
"I always have expectations of what I'm going to see from the research I've done," said Mr. Brody, "and I've got to say that my expectations have been exceeded."
ACES provides training to more than 5,000 servicemembers in all aspects of food service annually under its U.S. Army Culinary Arts Program.
(T. Anthony Bell writes for the Fort Lee Aca,!A"Traveler.Aca,!A?)