Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine Visits ‘Big Red One’ Soldiers

19th Public Affairs Detachment - Fort Riley, KS

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine visited Fort Riley Nov. 17 and put a “Big Red One” spin on his food and fitness expertise before filming an episode of “The Robert Irvine Show” live at McCain Auditorium in Manhattan, Kansas, with the help of the 1st Infantry Division’s Culinary Arts Team. “People ask me all the time, ‘what is my passion?’ And my passion, believe it or not, is not food. My passion is the military,” Irvine said. “Food is the vehicle that takes me to those military folks that I can impact every day.” Irvine is a celebrity chef who has hosted multiple shows on the Food Network, and is also known for his focus on fitness and healthy living. With that in mind, the first leg of his Fort Riley tour consisted of physical readiness training at Craig Fitness Center. After taking part in a team-based circuit competition alongside division Soldiers, Irvine headed to Cantigny Dining Facility where he sampled the “BRO Burger” and met with the facility’s culinary specialists. “The heartbeat of an army starts with its food,” Irvine said. “We sat down and talked about leadership skills, delegation, responsibility, teamwork; all the things that the Army teaches … These guys are our future — great leaders and (they make) great food.” In addition to stressing the importance of the Performance Triad, a system based on the pillars of proper diet, exercise and sleep, Irvine made sure to remind the culinary specialists at Cantigny about the necessity of their role in the Army. “I want to say thanks to the culinary guys here, because at the end of the day morale is based on food,” Irvine said. “When you’re in theater, the food is king so these guys are the rock stars of the modern military. When you go to a dining facility make sure you say ‘thank you.’” Sgt. 1st Class Jason Coy, manager at Cantigny Dining Facility, asserted the importance of his Soldiers being able to meet with a celebrity who is also an expert in their field, and able to explain some of the changes and transitions that their discipline may face in the future. “It was very unique,” Coy said. “It is always exciting to meet a celebrity, but to meet a celebrity chef is 10 times more exciting for us because we’re in food service. So, the fact that he is a chef and we’ve seen him on cooking shows and on television and the fact that he cares so much about the military, just made it that much better.” Following his visit to Fort Riley, Irvine filmed a live episode of his show in Manhattan. To do so, he enlisted the help of the Big Red One Culinary Arts Team. Becoming a member of the BROCAT requires a try out for culinary arts specialists stationed at Fort Riley, according to Sgt. Michael Allen, the BROCAT team captain. The team has competed against opponents from every branch of the military stationed all over the world. This led them to being selected in assisting Irvine during the filming of his show, an arrangement that Allen sees as mutually beneficial. “It’s great exposure to another side of food service than we’re really used to in the Army (other than) the day in day out dining facility operations,” Allen said. “It just gives us the chance to see what’s going on outside of that realm in food service. It really does pull you in to a lot of other aspects in the real world.” The show was the third time that Allen has been able to meet Irvine through the military, making him excited for the opportunity that it presented his team. “I believe this kind of opportunity gives me the chance to show Soldiers that there is more going on in food service besides scrambled eggs and bacon,” Allen said. “We get a chance to really work with some big names.” Irvine began his culinary career in the British Royal Navy, partnered with his experience in the field, he gave advice to Soldiers who are starting from a similar station. “Work hard, do your best every day.” Irvine said. “You’re part of a team, but you’re the morale of that team. The Army marches on its stomach and you’ve heard me say that a thousand times — one good meal can solve a lot of bad times, whether you’re in theater or at home.”

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