BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 9, 2012) - Soldiers from the 926th Engineer Battalion Forward Support Company, 926th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, were out in full force today to show they have what it takes to compete in the 2013 Philip A. Connelly Awards Program.

In setting up for the USARC evaluation, they wasted no time putting up a containerized kitchen and laying out other equipment in a public park across from the reserve center, and worked feverishly around the clock to ensure no stone was left unturned. Exceeding all requirements to pass today's test and make it to the next round were the priority for the day.

"I'm very proud of my team. Our Soldiers work extremely hard every year. We're very excited to be here, and to have this opportunity to enhance and test our skill set and possibly to compete at the next level," said Staff Sgt. Wardell Davis, 926th team leader and Food Service NCOIC.

But to get to the next level, the Department of the Army phase, the 926th FSC team needs to pass the current evaluation conducted under the watchful eye of Chief Warrant Officer Danny Tindel, Food Service Technician from the U.S. Army Reserve Command.

Tindel spent several hours observing cooks and field sanitation members in action, sometimes from afar and sometimes directly engaging with them as they go about their normal routine. Communication centered on testing their knowledge about field kitchen operation and sanitation standard.

Soldiers were evaluated on a myriad of criteria ranging from accounting procedures, field sanitation, command support, appearance, serving, kitchen site selection and layout, equipment and food preparation.

It's important that they are aware of the standard and actually practice what we preach for health and safety reasons, said Tindel.

One Soldier who takes this lesson to heart is First Cook Spc. Jerica Chatman, who also works as a chef at the University of Alabama hospital.

"Cooking is my passion. It's taking care of people. So it's important that everything has to be done right, at all times, in our line of work," said the mother of two and a native of Pell City, Ala.

Chatman and her team cooked up a hot meal for 50 people that included rice, green salad, stirred fried vegetables, chicken and banana pudding.

"Food was great. They continue to improve each time," said one satisfied Soldier.

The 926th Soldiers were acknowledged for their great effort and received certificates from USARC G4. If they make the USARC's Top 4 cut by July, they will represent the 412th TEC in the 'Army Reserve Field Kitchen' category. The DA phase of the evaluation is conducted 1 October to 15 December, with the overall winner to be announced in March 2013.

The Connelly Awards program is governed by AR 30-22 and is managed by the Quartermaster Center and School's Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence, and cosponsored by the International Food Service Executives Association and the Department of the Army.

The award is designed to improve food service operations and to recognize excellence in Army mess halls and during field kitchen operations.

The Department of the Army and the International Food Service Executives Association established the Phillip A. Connelly Memorial Awards Program in 1968. The program is named in honor of the late Phillip A. Connelly, a former president of IFSEA.