FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Food service Soldiers from Fort Drum dining facilities put the final touches on their Thanksgiving displays and decorations Nov. 22 in hopes their DFAC would be selected as the best decorated.

"Our food service professionals have been working for the last five weeks to perfect their individual displays and centerpieces that were displayed at the dining facilities," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Felipe A. Cardozo, 10th Mountain Division (LI) food adviser and one of the judges for the Commanding General's Best Decorated DFAC contest.

According to Cardozo, the contest has two purposes. First is to instill esprit de corps within the food service units, and second is to select food service professionals to represent Fort Drum at the 37th Annual U.S. Army Culinary Competition at Fort Lee, Va.

"This is the one time during the year for our cooks to shine, to show off their skills -- both culinary and cooking," said Sgt. 1st Class Susana Caraballo, Aviation DFAC noncommissioned officer in charge from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade. "Everything they have they can bring to the table."

Caraballo praised the initiative of the junior Soldiers she leads. She said it was one of these Soldiers who approached her with the desire to lead the decorating.

Pfc. Nabeel Hameed, a food service specialist with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, one of many Soldiers who came over to work at the Aviation DFAC while aviation units were deployed, designed the overall layout of culinary displays. Hameed also came up with the idea for a play area for kids and an area for Families to have their portrait taken.

"My goal was to come up with ideas other dining facilities may not have done in the past," Hameed said. "Sgt. 1st Class Carabello has been an excellent NCO, and I just wanted to do a good job to show our appreciation for her. Since most of the aviation Soldiers were deployed last year, I wanted this to get them and their Families into the holiday spirit."

The Commanding General's Best Decorated Dining Facility was judged by the 10th Mountain Division food adviser and sergeant major, the Directorate of Logistics Food Program manager and food service advisers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Brigade Combat Team and 10th CAB, who visited each DFAC to observe Thanksgiving displays and decorations.

The competition was judged in two categories: Best Overall Decorated Dining Facility and Best Overall Meal Presentation.

"All three dining facilities did a great job on their Thanksgiving meals and decorations," Cardozo said. "Soldiers are to be commended for the hard work and long hours they put into preparing for Thanksgiving."

The Riva Ridge DFAC won Best Overall Decorated Dining Facility, and the Muleskinner DFAC won Best Overall Meal Presentation.