12/10/20, 2:02 PM
Sgt. Laurissa Hodges
3rd Sustainment Brigade
Photo by Sgt. Marquis Hopkins
Culinary Soldiers to compete for
53rd Philip A. Connelly Award
The culinary specialists with the 287th Field Feeding Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, were recognized by the 406th Army Field Support Brigade as the winners of the Garrison Warrior Restaurant and will represent the XVIII Airborne Corps for the Department of the Army evaluation level of the 53rd annual Philip A. Connelly Award.
The inspection by the 406th AFSBN team took place Dec. 1 at the Hunter Army Airfield Consolidated Dining Facility. The inspectors focused on a range of categories from sanitation and basic kitchen operations to food quality and service.
“I am overjoyed,” said Sgt. 1st Class Alechia Riley, the facility manager for Hunter Army Airfield Consolidated Dining Facility. “My team worked very hard every single day and gave every mission 100% efficiency.”
According to the Phillip A. Connelly website, the program is the personification of food service excellence executed by culinary specialists, resulting in the presentation of extremely gratifying dining experiences across all Army food service platforms in garrison and field environments.
Riley’s team has an edge for the competition with an experienced mentor.
“I was a sergeant first class in the 82nd Airborne Division five or six years ago competing for the 47th Philip A. Connelly,” said Sgt, Maj. Lemakius Gardner, the chief culinary manager for the 3rd Infantry Division. “Now, I am a sergeant major watching my sergeant first class compete in the 53rd annual Philip A. Connelly which is very amazing because now I can tell her what is needed to make it to the top.”
The culinarians prepared for the competition by conducting weekly inspections for more than a month while also running normal food service operations supporting Hunter Army Airfield, 3rd Infantry Division and tenet units.
“We started that the Oct. 23, and faithfully every Friday we would inspect,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Yessenia Johnson, the 3rd ID senior food advisor. “We came in here and really dug deep. That initial inspection assessed each of the ten categories of the PAC competition and from there we had our base line.”
During each inspection Hunter Army Airfield Consolidated dining facility continued to excel by assessing their deficiencies and making improvements.
“Hunter dining facility has, in the past three quarters for fiscal year 20, been the CG’s best mess,” said Johnson. “Each inspection, they looked at the deficiencies and made improvements and because they did that they were able to get higher scores each time we came by.”
The team is looking forward to representing the Marne Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps in culinary excellence.
“I have a lot of junior Soldiers on my team that have never experienced this in their career, so I am excited for them to be able to see this first hand, and I know it will help them in their career moving forward,” Riley said. “It will give them the encouragement to keep pushing because there are other things we can do to excel and show what we can do in our craft.”