690th Military Police Company competes for national title during the Philip A. Connelly Food Service Competition
By Capt. Theresa DiPinto
164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
STARKE, Fla. (Nov. 21, 2012) —The Food Service and Sanitation Teams from the 690th Military Police (MP) Company competed at the national level of the Philip A. Connelly Food Service Competition at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center on Nov. 17, in hopes of winning not only scholarships and new equipment for their armory, but a new level of pride as well.
With three evaluators critiquing their every move and 120 hungry Soldiers to feed by 5 p.m., Staff Sgt. Keith Griffin, Sgt. Lisa Adamski, Sgt. Kenneth Lewis and their support teams were truly under the gun to represent and win in the name of their company, the 164th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade and the entire Florida National Guard. According to Capt. Ben Ruffner, commander of the 690thMP Company, they were the only non-Quartermaster team competing for the national title.
Even though the meal would not be served until that evening and they could not begin cooking until 12:30 p.m., preparations began around sunrise that morning. Not only was the team evaluated on their cooking skills, but also on the set up of their site and the management of the entire process from planning to serving. The three evaluators came from the best of Food Service all over the country and really pushed them to perform while maintaining a positive attitude.
Evaluator Mike Pizzuto, from Arvada, Colo., was eager to instill in the team a sense of pride and responsibility about the role they fulfill to the Soldiers they support. “Think about chefs…who besides a doctor gets into your body like we do? Nobody,” said Pizzuto.
The other evaluators, Master Sgt. Walter Moore, of Fort Lee, Va., and Chief Warrant Officer Danny Tindle, from Ft. Bragg, N.C., were always close by to not only take notes, but offer advice on everything from proper chopping technique to time management. The 690th team had to be masters at “progressive cooking” – which would allow them to serve a hot meal to the very first and very last Soldier to come through the line.
“They changed things on us – the number of people we’re serving changed, the start time changed and some of our equipment went down,” said Griffin. This meant they would need to adjust not only their schedule for preparing everything (since they only had so many pans, so many burners, etc…), but also meant that the proportions of key spices critical to taste would need to be fine-tuned.
Shortly after 5 p.m. Soldiers got their first taste of what was many months in the making. The comment card from Col. Matthew Hearon, commander of the 164th ADA Brigade, said quite simply: “Awesome.” With an overall vote of success from their Soldiers and leaders, the team accepted their certificates from the evaluation team with the hopes that they will be heading to Dallas in January to accept their award as winners of the Connelly Competition.