By U.S. ArmyMay 30, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Soldiers of the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade traveled more than 300 miles to Fort Riley, Kan. Wednesday to compete in the 1st Infantry Division Best Food Service Warrior competition May 24 where the brigade took first place for the second quarter in a row.
Sgt. Nasteshia Rose, a food service specialist assigned to the 5th Engineer Battalion and Miami, Fla. native, and Spc. Zachary Harkness, a food service specialist assigned to the 94th Engineer Battalion and Sacramento, Calif. native, were announced winners by Master Sgt. Felisha Griffin, Combat Aviation Brigade senior food manager and 1st ID Food Service board president.
"The 4th MEB Soldiers really set themselves apart from their peers, you could tell they had dedicated the time to really know the standards of Army food service," said Griffin. "The competition was very close, the Soldiers are very competitive, each one wants to make sure they can set themselves apart from their peers, but in the end there can only be one winner."
Winner of the third quarter 2010 1st ID Best Food Service Warrior and now second quarter 2012 1st ID Best Food Service Warrior, Rose said she was proud to embody the 4th MEB.
"It was an honor to represent the Dauntless Diner Soldiers at division," said Rose. "Cooks are one of the most underappreciated [military occupation specialties] in the Army."
Food service Soldiers from the 4th MEB typically work 12 hours a day preparing and serving food in addition to performing regular Soldier requirements such as exercise, weapons and equipment maintenance, she said.
The 4th MEB currently operates an installation dining facility known as the "Dauntless Diner" which supports the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Noncommissioned Officer Academy for several different branches of service.
According to Master Sgt. Jason Baldwin, 4th MEB senior food operation supervisor and Fort Walton Beach, Fla. native, the Dauntless Diner serves three meals, five days a week to an average of 1,500 personnel including trainees, permanent party Soldiers, international students and Department of Defense civilians.
"Our Soldiers are very committed," said Baldwin.
Baldwin and other Dauntless Diner leaders conduct mock military boards to test the knowledge of their food service specialists. They also compete weekly for the title of best cooked meal, he explained.
"It's so nice to be recognized for the hard work that we've devoted to making ourselves and our organization top notch," said Harkness. "I was kind of worried about establishing myself above the brigades that are co-located with the division."
Fort Riley hosts a culinary arts lab for food service specialists to cultivate their craft, he said.
"The large amount of overturn in our dining facility, late night study sessions and dedicated leadership really made the difference between us and the competition," said Harkness.
Harkness' first-line supervisor, Staff Sgt. Solomon Smith, a food service specialist assigned to 94th Engineer Bn, won the 1st ID Food Service NCO of the Quarter during the first quarter alongside Spc. Jacquetta White, a food service specialist assigned to 5th Engineer Bn.
"I know that our guys will win Best Food Service Warrior of the Year for the division," said Smith. "Because we're trained and ready, plus the odds are pretty much in our favor."
The annual 1st ID Best Food Service Warrior competition is slated to be held at Fort Riley, Kan. this fall.