By Spc. Bethany L. Little/40th PADDecember 3, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "Runner, I need potato wedges," shouts Spc. Marissa Castaneda, as she prepares lunch in a cramped field kitchen. "Hurry up we only have 10 minutes left," yells the food service specialist with the 126th Transportation Company, 82nd Sustainment Brigade.
Castaneda quickly finishes stirring the gravy mixture and continues to make final preparations before the clock strikes noon.
Meanwhile, the aroma of ribs drifts through the air as Soldiers make their way through the mobile kitchen.
Although, it seems like any other day in the field for these Soldiers, it isn't. Every move they make is evaluated for the 43rd Annual Philip A. Connelly Active Army Field Kitchen Competition.
The competition evaluates Army cooks throughout the force in 10 categories. Currently the top four teams of the competition are going through evaluations to determine a winner, which will be announced Dec. 15.
The team is judged on two meals. Of those two meals, the team is evaluated on sanitation, use of their equipment and other items disclosed on a checklist created specifically for this competition, said Command Sgt. Maj. Swilley Clark, Philip A. Connelly program manager, Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence.
Fort Bragg's lone team came from the 126th Transportation Co., 82nd Sustainment Bde.
"This competition is like the world series," said Col. Hector Lopez, 82nd Sustainment Bde. commander. "If you win this competition, you are the best at your craft in the entire U.S. Army."
The competition, which began earlier this year, serves to improve the professionalism of food service personnel and recognize them for excellence in preparation and service in dining facilities and field kitchen operations. Teams from all over the Army competed and only four made it to the final round.
Although the team doesn't know how they compare to the three other teams, they feel confident about their performance.
"I believe that we did fairly well," said Castaneda, a native of Arleta, Calif. "We honed our time management, teamwork and proper field sanitation skills through this competition."
While winning the Connelly Competition would mean a lot to Fort Bragg's team, they believe the true reward is the experience.
"It means a lot for our team to make it this far," said Sgt. 1st Class Luis Ramos. "The entire purpose of entering in this competition was for our Soldiers to be better trained and have the opportunity to perform their jobs with proficiency and professionally in the field."