Food service personnel compete in post contest

Pvt. Brandi Robinson, a food service specialist in the 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, prepares fish for the lunch meal of the Connelly Competition on March 6, as Sgt. 1st Class Robin Propes, the Patriot Inn Dining Facility manager from the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, provides guidance.

U.S. Army/Spc. Molimau Tia

The Patriot Inn Dining Facility was evaluated for the Philip A. Connelly Competition on March 6.

This competition for food service personnel began with the intent to improve and promote food service throughout the military, and it has continued throughout the years, rewarding deserving food service personnel for their hard work and dedication.

The Connelly Team for the Patriot Inn consists of 14 members from four different brigades, competing against six dining facilities on post.

Pfc. Anthony Salas, a food service specialist from 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, said the team has become one big family, learning to work together and communicate well, from the highest ranking to the lowest.

“This is the best (dining facility) on Fort Hood, if not in the Army,” Salas said.

The judges of the competition will be evaluating the teams on tasks such as: how well they follow recipe cards, the time it takes to prepare a meal, progressive cooking, sanitation, rations and administration.

To prepare for this year’s competition, the Patriot Inn’s team has been rehearsing for more than 45 days, said Sgt. 1st Class Robin Propes, the Patriot Inn manager from the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. The dining facility has also made visual changes, such as new decorations and large menu boards, which make it more appealing for the soldiers to come in to eat.

The civilian dining facility attendants have also been working extra hard to make the dining facility ready for the competition. They have been an imperative part of the inspection process by ensuring the facility is clean at all times, Propes said.

The preparation for the competition day has included a lot of on-the-job training and many 10- and 11-hour work days, Salas said.

Even though the Connelly Competition is only a few hours of evaluation, Propes hopes to carry on the high standard of cooking and food service the soldiers have learned even after the competition has ended.

“We need to stay at this level always, and continue to do what we’ve trained for,” Propes said.

Propes said she believes their chances of winning are good, but if they don’t win, they will push harder to be ready to win next year.

The winner of the Fort Hood portion of the competition will be announced in May after all of the participating dining facilities on post have been evaluated. The winner of Fort Hood will move onto compete at the U.S. Army Forces Command level and then at the Department of the Army level.

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