JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Culinary arts specialist Soldiers assigned to Echo Company, 1-207th Aviation Regiment, competed in the 52nd annual Philip A. Connelly Program for Excellence in Army Food Service in a field environment at Camp Carroll on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, March 2.
The Connelly Program began in 1968 and is an Army-wide competition seeking the year’s best field-feeding team throughout the National Guard, Reserve and active-duty components.
The Alaska National Guard’s eight-person culinary team won the 2018 Pacific Northwest regional competition in the National Guard category, qualifying them to compete at the national level.
“We all work great with each other and we all love to cook,” said Sgt. Bridget Horton, Echo Company.
Alaska’s team is competing against the other National Guard regional winners, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Minnesota, with a menu that includes chicken parmesan, calico corn, spring salad, wheat rolls, chili and pineapple upside-down cake.
The judges travel to each competing state to evaluate teams based on a points system that accounts for recipe adherence, sanitation, food safety, proper cooking techniques, field layout, culinary knowledge and hospitality in a field environment.
“How does the unit operate in a harsh situation like they have right now with snow on the ground and low temperatures?" asked Jeffrey Kingman, a judge for the competition.
The team performed all required culinary duties using a mobile kitchen trailer, which reflects the realistic conditions of preparing meals and feeding troops in the field.
Quality food has a larger impact than simply providing nutrition to allow Soldiers to accomplish their mission.
"It improves morale," said Cpt. Christina McCann, Echo Company commander. "So, everybody's out there doing their cold-weather training exercises. They're working hard, long hours during the day and so, to be able to have that warm meal, it's a really great opportunity for everybody to come together."
Due to restructuring, the culinary arts section residing within 1-207th Aviation will be absorbed into other support companies, making this their last opportunity to win the title for their current unit.
As Alaska is the first unit being judged, the Soldiers will have to wait until May to find out if they have won the competition.