MANAMA, Bahrain – Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain’s Bluejacket Bistro was recognized as the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award (Ney) winner for outstanding food service excellence in the OCONUS General Mess category on February 28.
This is the first Ney Award achieved by the Bahrain Bluejacket Bistro since it was opened in 2018. The Blue Jacket Bistro was nominated to represent EURAFCENT as it was the highest-scoring galley during the Commander, Navy Installations Command’s Five Star Accreditation Assessment.
“If the galley was the NFL this would be our Super Bowl Championship Game. Like any teams out there, they all want to play their best every game throughout the season until they win the Championship. That’s the same mindset with the food service,” said Arnie Limon, NSA Bahrain’s Bluejacket Bistro’s food service officer. “We play our games 24/7, 365 days a year. Winning the Ney is not about what happens on one day but what happens every day. The team always has to improve and maintain the highest standard you can be. You must embody the motto “Think Ney every day!”
The Bluejacket Bistro team was in the final competition in the same category with Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s Food Service. This annual competition challenges all Ney contenders to display and demonstrate consistent, high standards of sanitation, safety, administration and management.
“Our team has a lot of experience working together at other locations and plenty of these guys have worked with us for years,” said John Henton, NSA Bahrain’s Bluejacket Bistro senior food service manager. “We’re a perfect team and have worked together for so long that all we do is try to make ourselves better. Arnie came along and focused in on some different things we hadn’t seen or considered before and we learned a lot from it. Overall, it was a great team effort for all of us in what we’ve achieved.”
Henton stated that getting through the COVID-era challenges were met head-on with innovation and through their general practices in order to maintain a level of optimal service, and that the Bluejacket Bistro had continued to operate above and beyond Ney expectations.
“It was already an excellent and clean dining facility. To be honest, there were not that many challenges for us going into COVID-19 other than finding some extra people to clean up after the customer vacates their seat, wiping down the glass dividers, door handles, etc. We have people here that keep high sanitary practices which are part of our regular policies anyway. It’s just a discipline that’s bred into us,” said Henton.
Other areas evaluated under the Ney competition include financial records, Navy Standard Core Menu, Food Preparation and Service, Subsistence Management, Facility Upkeep, and Training while serving the highest quality nutritious foods that met customers’ satisfactions.
“Our team came from different countries all over the globe, like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, so we’re very diverse, so it’s always a challenge, especially when it comes to communication barrier,” said Limon. “We never saw those barriers as unachievable or unconquerable, so we tackled everything as a worthy challenge to excel so everyone in the room plays in accordance with the standards that propel us forward.”
“Cleanliness and records keeping are some of the grading standards for the Ney award that the whole team has excelled at and there are countless, detailed requirements that could be overlooked in which this team is achieving every single day,” said James Duff, NSA Bahrain’s Installation fleet and family readiness director. “The team does a great job in figuring out what the customer is looking for and meeting those needs.”
Duff stated that the Bluejacket Bistro team works hard to integrate a lot of the positive feedback they receive and that the ability to return that energy to the team helps to reinforce that pride in daily execution. He added that with receiving three daily meal evaluations from the Command Duty Officers each month, the galley was able to achieve a 99.5% positive response, which is not only incredible, but enables the team to strive for consistent improvements and maintain a high level of expectations, which Duff outlines could arguably carry more weight than the award itself.
The Bluejacket Bistro has earned the highest points amongst all regional galleys and achieved its second consecutive Five Star accreditation, which secured its nomination spot for the FY22 Ney competition.
“The team works extremely hard to ensure they provide the best possible support for the Warfighters at NSA Bahrain,” said Duff. “This award recognizes their great level of service and dedication to excellence. For a galley that has only been open for three years to win this awards it is nothing less than astonishing. Thank you to the entire team and grateful for anyone who is able to come by and support the Bluejacket Bistro and what they do each day.”
Through the partnership between the government and with the Kellogg, Brown, & Root Management, the Bahrain Bluejacket Bistro held the highest standards of business and personal integrity, abiding by the strictest ethical and legal standards to maintain its reputation as the “Best Feeder” in the Fleet and achieve the Navy’s highest honor excellence in food service.
“I feel this is a great start for us and there’s surely more to come, so as long as we have the opportunity to compete, we will and show the world what we can do,” said Limon. “Every day we have to raise that standard higher and that’s what makes us and the Bluejacket Bistro what we are today and to be in a better position going forward.”