Food service Marines compete for best mess in Corps
CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan -- The Camp Kinser Mess Hall and the Combat Logistics Regiment 37 field mess competed for Maj. Gen. William Pendleton Thompson Hill Memorial Awards Feb. 20-21 on Camp Kinser.
The awards program was established in 1985 and has since become an annual Marine Corps-wide competition for the food services occupation.
The garrison and field mess halls were judged by three subject matter experts in 17 categories including operations, sanitation, food taste and quality.
The judges also evaluated the facilities on how efficiently personnel are employed, paperwork is completed, and whether food is prepared in accordance with Marine Corps orders, according to Lt. Col. Gary J. Spinelli, the director of the evaluation team and a food service officer with G-4, logistics, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
The Camp Kinser Mess Hall earned the 2013 Marine Corps Installations Pacific Best Mess Hall of the Year title.
“This is pretty much the Super Bowl for food service,” said Lance Cpl. Andres R. Palacios, a food service specialist assigned to the field mess with CLR-37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF. “Last year, we competed for best Marine Corps mess hall in (MCIPAC), and it was like the playoffs preparing us for this.”
Competition often motivates those involved to perform to their very best, which in this case proves valuable to the food service, according to Jay Silverstein, a W.P.T. Hill Awards judge with the National Restaurant Association.
“Food is a very important aspect to the military, and I don’t think a lot of people understand that,” said Silverstein. “I believe that if you can get five minutes of sustenance and something warm in your belly, it may remind you of home. It may not be made the same way but it still reminds you, and that’s what is important.”
Over the course of 22 days, the judges will evaluate the remaining mess halls and field messes competing.
“We haven’t seen the other mess halls yet, but I can see that (the CLR-37 Marines) put in a tremendous amount of work out here,” said Spinelli. “You can just see it in everything, and everybody’s very professional and very knowledgeable in what they’re doing. They look great. I’ve been doing this for 23 years now, and you can tell when somebody’s put some work into it.”
The last day of the evaluation is slated for March 10 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The winners are expected to be announced in June and are scheduled to attend the award presentations hosted by the NRA in Chicago.
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