JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, AK, UNITED STATES
Story by Senior Airman Jonathan Valdes
Around 4:40 a.m. as the key enters the cylinder and unlocks the doors, every day, 365 days a year, Soldiers and civilians begin their endeavor at the Wilderness Inn Dining Facility on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, before everyone else.
With the sole purpose of providing every visitor the necessary meals to maintain mission readiness–it’s an all-team effort to handcraft the wide variety of food served every day. Before each meal is prepared, an inspection is required.
“We perform a cook’s mount formation at 4:45 a.m. for accountability, and make sure everyone is hygienic and doesn’t have any dirt on their fingers to avoid cross-contamination when preparing to cook,” said U.S. Army Spc. Cody Kubacki, 626th Quartermaster Field Feeding Company culinary specialist.
After everything is accounted for, the staff disperse into their corresponding sections, quickly and efficiently, to commence their duties.
“There could be four or five sections depending on the needs, and each section has a unique role,” said Kubacki. “Before the DFAC opens, everything should be in place.”
Countless door openings, footsteps and greetings as military members and civilians come through the dining facility are direct feedback that demonstrate the popularity of the Wilderness Inn.
“On average, about 8,500 to 9,000 people eat at the DFAC weekly,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Clent Watson, 626th Quartermaster rations room noncommissioned officer in charge.
Per week, around 2,100 eggs are used and 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of food are served, he added.
By providing low-cost food options for service members and the JBER community, it goes without saying how important the dining facility is to JBER and to every person who visits.
“Providing meals allows people the opportunity to stay focused and mission-ready,” Watson said.
At the end of the day, after every utensil is cleaned, the floor is mopped, every surface is scrubbed and spotless, the inventory is accounted for and organized, the tables and chairs are aligned, the kitchen is left ready for the next day’s rise and grind.
“Our mission is to serve a healthy, quality meal for every service member every single day,” said Kubacki. “Basically, we give service members the necessary energy to carry out their mission. It is the same energy and fuel I receive when I work long hours and someone approaches me and tells me the food was great. It brightens up my day.”