Serving America’s Best

Photo By Sgt. Trinity Carter | Spc. Nyree Smalls, a culinary specialist assigned to the 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, chops butter up to make a fresh pumpkin pie for the Robert C. Stack Ivy Warrior dining facility’s dinner on Fort Carson, Colorado, August 4, 2022. The Stryker Brigade makes most of their desserts from scratch, so they are fresh for Soldiers. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Trinity Carter)



Story by Sgt. Trinity Carter 

14th Public Affairs Detachment  

FORT CARSON, Colo. – Culinary specialists assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division prepare for food wars as they represent the 4th Inf. Div. in a head-to-head battle to prove who is the best Soldier dining facility within III Corps Support Command on Fort Carson, Colorado August 4, 2022.
Phillip A. Connelly Competition, which began in March 1968, recognizes excellence in Army food service. Connelly sought after food excellence amongst the troops as he invented the way dining facilities on, and off military installations are rated. This year calls on last year’s champions, 1st Stryker Brigade, that scored highest on the III Corps level with food management.
“Being passionate about cooking is not uncommon in the Army cooking community. There are a lot of people who have chosen to be Army cooks that have had 7 years of cooking experience prior to joining,” says Spc. Javier Cortez, a culinary specialist attached to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade, 4th Inf. Div.
This competition is an opportunity to show a military cooks’ ability to master the logistical, administrative, tactical, and culinary challenges of preparing a healthy, good-tasting meal. For some Soldiers like Cortez, Fort Carson is not their first unit competing for such a title and providing food for their fellow Soldiers.
“When a Soldier gets a hot meal, it really warms you up on the inside. That’s what it is about,” Cortez adds, “A hot meal is what keeps a Soldier going during their long hours.”
Yet, not all are as experienced with multiple duty stations as Cortez. For others, Fort Carson is their first experience. “This competition makes me ask more questions and always want to know the why,” Pfc. Carson White, a culinary specialist attached to the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., states, “I know when these high-pressure times come, I’ll grow from them so when I go to a different duty station, I can teach what I learned from here.”
The Soldiers who prep the meals come in early and stay late to make sure Fort Carson is fed. Sfc. Benjamin DeJesus, the warrior restaurant manager for the Robert C. Stack Ivy Warrior dining facility, mentions how the dedication these Soldiers have to their craft is what sets them apart for this competition. He continues to say how this dining facility alone has stayed open during every issue that may have arisen through COVID-19 to make sure Fort Carson Soldiers are supplied a warm meal.
Ivy culinary specialists within the Stryker Brigade are confident in their skill to serve their brothers and sisters in arms. The high morale within the Robert C. Stack Ivy Warrior dining facility forces the culinary specialist to put their knives where their mouth is.

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