An annual tradition, five Fort Hood dining facilities, or DFACs, competed for a trophy on Wednesday.

Col. Hank Perry, U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Hood commander, led a team of military and civilian judges who ranked the facilities on a variety of factors, including display and dining area appearance and food service operations.

Staff Sgt. Kishma Benjamin led her culinary arts team at the Always Ready DFAC on West Fort Hood through brainstorming sessions over a couple of months to create their decor.

“This was our back-up plan,” Benjamin said. “We originally planned a carnival theme.”

The actual preparations for the competition began about 6 p.m. Tuesday. One of Benjamin’s teams handled the baking, another the food preparation, and the third decorated the rooms.

Inflatable turkeys, streamers and ice sculptures graced Always Ready’s dining areas, along with tables filled with cupcakes,

Spc. Claudia Grintz wore a Pilgrim costume during the competition, being especially proud of the cupcakes she had baked. “I even baked the cupcake cakes,” she said. Those were cupcake-shaped cakes that looked too good to eat.

At the Theodore Roosevelt DFAC on Fort Hood, the centerpiece was a huge cornucopia, created by Spc. Trever Luttrull and Sgt. 1st Class Amah Williams.

“We spent a whole week on it,” Luttrull said, describing the process of building the realistic looking horn of plenty using chicken wire, scrap dough, salt dough, and food coloring.

Other DFACs that participated in this year’s competition were Iron Horse, Freeman and the Patriot Inn.

“I like the friendly competition leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday,” Perry said.

Theodore Roosevelt DFAC won the competition, and received a trophy for its staff’s efforts.

More important than the competition, for some, was the food. Pfc Tyler Poppino, originally from Nevada, enjoyed his meal at the Theodore Roosevelt DFAC. “It’s a little different than Mom’s, but it’s good.”

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