Culinary Warriors Compete in Army-Wide Competition
2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division - Schofield Barracks, HI
After more than a year of training for countless hours with rare opportunities for time-off, Soldiers on the Field Feeding Team (FFT) with 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, finally had chance to show off what they have been prepping for Feb. 25, 2016. The Soldiers competed for a chance to be named the best Field Feeding Team in the Army through the 48th Phillip A. Connelly Awards Program. The Phillip A. Connelly Awards Program, commonly referred to as the Connelly, was established in 1968 in order to recognize culinary service specialists who provide the best possible food service for Soldiers. This year four teams from across the world competing in the Connelly. The teams’ will all be evaluated on cooking skills, cooking knowledge, equipment maintenance, sanitation, and site layout. The winner of the competition will be presented an award May21-24, by the National Restaurant Association in Chicago. Two Soldiers from the winning unit will be sent to Culinary Institute of America for two weeks training with some of the top chefs in the United States. “We are looking for excellence,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Princido Texidor, the U.S. Army food advisor, and one of three evaluators. “We are looking to see who is providing the best chow possible to our Soldiers in a field environment.” The competition began early last year for 2-11th FA Reg.’s FFT, when they competed at the brigade level. The FFT won the U.S. Army Pacific level of the Connelly September 2015. “After the team won the U.S. Army Pacific level of the Phillip A. Connelly Awards Program Competition, they went right back into Garrison without much recovery time,” said 1Lt. Isaac Goodin, the officer in charge of the 2-11th FA, FFT. “To begin training for the Department of the Army competition they skipped Christmas block leave.” Dedicated and armed with knowledge of mistakes made in earlier levels of the competition, Soldiers of the FFT confidently displayed their abilities to the evaluators at their well-constructed field-feeding site on East Range. “There is a little bit of pressure being in the competition,” said Sgt. Jonathan C. Valles a culinary service noncommissioned officer with the 2-11th FA, FFT. “It has been a learning experience, and now that we have made it to the Department of the Army level we are all very knowledgeable in food service techniques, and regulations. So I feel very confident about winning.” Valles proved his dedication to the competition, as well as his Soldiers by participating in the Connelly despite his wife possibly going into labor that day. Valles adamantly said that even though he has been watching his phone throughout the day, unless his wife actually goes into labor he would be at the competition until it ends. The entire team shares the amount of dedication Valles’ has for this competition, which shows how much blood, sweat and tears have gone into this competition. Winning may mean the world to the team, however, regardless of the outcome they will not come out empty-handed. “I don’t want my Soldiers to be discouraged if we lose,” said Valles. “I want them to remember what they have accomplished so they can carry everything they have learned through their careers.” The winner of the competition will be announced later this year in April. Until that time, the 2-11th FA Reg., FFT, can finally begin to relax and enjoy their victories in the competition thus far.