11th ACR Cooks Train for the New Millennium
"How do we train our cooks to prepare new and challenging menu items when they are working 10 hours on shift (weekend and holidays)?" "How do we compete with civilian restaurants to bring the soldiers back into the dining facility?" These are the questions Warrant Officer One Jasper Lee, the Regimental food advisor, had been asking himself for some time.
Lee wanted to find success elsewhere and get his soldiers access to the knowledge that makes other food service establishments successful. He also wanted to incorporate this new knowledge back into his dining facility to work further toward his ultimate goal of 100 percent customer satisfaction. He just needed to find out where could he get that knowledge?
He looked into bringing a certified culinary instructor on post. When that didnt work, he started looking into sending his cooks to train elsewhere. He wanted to send his cooks somewhere where they would get plenty of experience in an area somewhat similar to the dining facilitys buffet style setup. As soon as he thought of a buffet, it was not a great leap to think of Las Vegas.
In search of a solution, he went to various companies and schools to talk to human resources personnel and vice presidents asking for advice. In the process of his search, he met a former Marine, Mark Rittornot, who is now the vice president of the Las Vegas Hilton 3000. Rittornot, having had some experience with military eating establishments, sympathized with Lee and liked the idea of using his five star restaurant to help.
Before they could get started, they had to leap a few obstacles. They had to go through the Judge Advocate General and the Hiltons lawyers to get the legalities worked out. They also had to get the approval of various health agencies. Finally, they had to get approval from the Las Vegas area Teamsters. Once that was done, they were able to start working on the particulars.
They agreed that only way to incorporate new techniques is to have military cooks learn from the civilian sector food service. Their plan was to have Fort Irwin cooks go to the Las Vegas Hilton and spend time being trained in the Hiltons restaurants and actually working side-by-side with world class chefs preparing meals. The first two cooks to take advantage of this program will be Staff Sgt. Milton Hudson and the Regimental Support Squadron Cook of the Year, Spc. Nelson Camposnieto, who will be going from Jan. 31 to Feb. 12, 1999.
The Training program is co-sponsored by the Las Vegas Hilton, the Regimental Support Squadron, and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in memory of a true professional, former Regimental Dining Facility Manager, Sgt. First Class Gregory E. Davis.
From the U.S. Army Forces Command web site, circa January 1999.
Click to read Bob Hersey's A Cook with the Blackhorse Regiment in Vietnam