Story and photos by Spc. Nathan Thome
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
As Soldiers filed into a room filled with stoves, sinks and countertops stacked with breakfast ingredients, an instructor called out menu items. Each food service specialist gathered the appropriate ingredients, took his station and put his culinary skills to work, cooking a breakfast feast.
The event tested the culinary skills of food service specialists from units across post to enhance their culinary skills and gain knowledge to share with Soldiers in their units they work with on a daily basis.
Addressing food sanitation, safety and personal hygiene, the June 4-14 Fort Carson Culinary Academy Food Service Enhancement course’s goal is to refine the skills of personnel returning from deployment, and integrate newly arrived Soldiers, who recently completed advanced individual training to become Army food service specialists, said Maurice Elekwachi, an instructor at the academy.
The course consisted of 80 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction and three evaluations: a practical exercise, a written test and a final cooking challenge, which required the use of the food service specialists’ combined skills.
Upon completion of the course, Soldiers returned to their units with the knowledge to handle, prepare and cook food in a safer capacity, said Elekwachi.
Spc. Cassandra Stills, food service specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, said she believes her skills greatly improved due to the instruction, and looks forward to sharing what she learned with co-workers.
“I learned a lot about food safety and culinary skills, but my favorite part of the course was working with the other cooks as a team,” said Pfc. Phuong Le, food service specialist, Troop D, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Reg., 1st BCT. “When we cooked, I didn’t feel like I was the only one there; we worked together and found ways to improve each other’s dishes, making the overall product a success through teamwork.”
Soldiers showed enthusiasm for the course through their cooking, such as Pfc. Jonathan Childers, who took careful consideration to ensure an omelet he made was evenly cooked and folded to perfection.
“During hands-on training, the instructor spent time assisting each Soldier and critiquing their dish,” said Childers, food service specialist, Company G, 4th Bn., 42nd Field Artillery Reg., 1st BCT.
On the last day of class, Soldiers prepared a six-course meal for their noncommissioned officers and commanders, using knowledge and skills they acquired from the course.
“When I go back to work, I will use my experience to train Soldiers I work with, so everyone can function as a single unit,” said Le. “I plan to improve food quality at the ‘Raider’ dining facility, so Soldiers will continue to enjoy the food we cook.”