By Staff Sgt. Joel Pena and Sgt. Steven PetersonNovember 29, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Earlier this month, in the spirit of giving thanks and promoting esprit de corps, dining facility staffs across the installation served their Thanksgiving Day meal.
Each staff transformed their dining facility into one of the themes they selected among the DFAC personnel. Themes included a Native American village, "The Wizard of Oz," the Pilgrims' and Native Americans' first Thanksgiving, and a fantasy theme.
This is the one day of the year when dining facilities across post compete in what has been dubbed the "Super Bowl" of culinary arts, the annual Commanding General's Best Decorated Dining Facility Competition.
"I'm really proud of these Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery T. Lambert, 3rd Brigade Combat Team DFAC manager. "This is our time to shine. We call this our 'Super Bowl.'"
Dining facilities were judged in three categories: Display and Dining Area Appearance, Serving Line and Menu, and Food Service Personnel. The categories focused on themes, decorations and dining table setup, menu, presentation of food, along with the team members' attitude, initiative and teamwork.
The purpose of the competition was to recognize food service professionals and to enhance the Thanksgiving Day celebration for Fort Drum Soldiers, Family Members, members of the civilian workforce and guests.
"I think cooking for the Soldiers during Thanksgiving gives them something to look forward to," said Cpl. Alyssa Procter, a Soldier from 10th Sustainment Brigade Dining Facility. "I was very glad to get that opportunity to make someone's holiday better."
The 1st Brigade Combat Team Dining Facility was judged Nov. 14, while the facilities for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Sustainment Brigade and 10th Combat Aviation Brigade were evaluated Nov. 20.
The task of judging the Commanding General's Best Decorated Dining Facility fell on the shoulders of the 10th Mountain Division food adviser and sergeant major, manager and food service advisers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Brigade Combat Team and 10th CAB, who visited each DFAC to observe Thanksgiving displays, decorations and food service personnel.
The Native American village theme was displayed in the 1st Brigade Combat Team DFAC. Soldiers turned the normal chow hall into a glimpse of the past by adorning the tables with a gingerbread model city complete with wind mills, houses, and other decorations to make the scene playful and fun.
Over at the "Wizard of Oz"-themed dining facility, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers dressed the part of the movie characters. Visitors were welcomed by many of their favorite characters from the film, including the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch and the Tin Man.
The Fantasy-themed DFAC was run by 10th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers, who went to great lengths to make visitors feel as though they had been transported to a mystical far away land. They had a chocolate chess board, edible but very detailed ships, a hand-crafted sugar forest with vibrant red and yellow flowers, and even a hand-crafted castle complete with a warrior queen sitting atop her throne.
"The cooks did a real fine job at the DFAC," said Sgt. Maj. Richard D. Lacuesta, division food service sergeant major. "I'm very satisfied with what I saw today."
The DFAC winning the overall best was 3rd Brigade Combat Team, with the theme of Pilgrims and Native Americans, the first Thanksgiving. When visitors entered the facility, it was as if they had taken a trip into the past with displays of turkey, uncut vegetables and cakes dressed for the occasion, and Soldiers with smiling faces ready to serve the Thanksgiving holiday meal.
"I'm very happy (with) how well my Soldiers did for this competition," said Lambert. "They really went above and beyond all our expectations."
All of the hard work that went into the competition was not lost on those who visited the dining facilities.
"It was a tough competition; all of these Soldiers should be awarded for the hard work and long hours they put into the displays and the food," said Brig. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, division deputy commanding general for support. "Not only did these Soldiers do it for the trophy, but they made it a special day for a lot of the members of the Fort Drum community."