Stars for Food
Navy journalist Sandra
YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Four naval bases assigned to Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan have been rated as a five-star dining facilities by the 2000 Captain Edward F. Ney Awards Program.
Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo, Naval Security Facility Kamiseya and Naval Air Facility Atsugi have been selected among 436 Navy general messes and 16 Navy hospital food service operations Navy-wide which competed for the title of the best food service operation. This program, established in 1958 by the Secretary of the Navy and the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA), was implemented to improve and recognize the quality of food service in the Navy.
"This is the second year in a row that we’ve won the Ney award. The significance of this is that it shows our patrons, military and civilians, that they are dining at one of the greatest chow halls in the military," said Chief Warrant Officer Martin Ozzieosberg, food services officer, Yokosuka’s dining facility, also known as the Jewel of the Far East Yokosuka.
Senior Chief Mess Management Specialist Enrique Elejorde, food services officer, Fareant Café, Atsugi, said that winning this award was not only important to his staff but also for his command.
"It has built up the morale of our food service attendants as well as the rest of the command. It was really a surprise that our Café won this year. This was the first time that we have won the five star accreditation," Elejorde added.
The dining facilities are rated equally, with each one having to meet the very same requirements as the others in order to be acknowledged as a three, four or a five star facility.
"There is an appendix that the inspectors go by, it’s like a check off list. It’s very fair because if you meet the check off then you are meeting the requirements. It used to be rated on who had the most "flair" now it’s rated on who meets the most requirements. If you meet at least 97 percent then you rate a five-star accreditation," said Chief Mess Management Specialist Edward Bowhall, food service program manager, Commander Naval Forces Japan.
Meeting the requirements in order to be selected for a five-star rating is something to be very proud. It requires a lot of dedication and team effort in order to keep these facilities running smoothly.
"There’s a lot of hard work that goes in everyday to make a restaurant run the way it should. We basically feed between 300-400 people for breakfast, 1000 or more for lunch and usually around 500 or 600 for the evening meal seven days a week," added Ozzieosberg.
Mess Management Specialist Ernesto Avila, Shogun Café’s food service officer, Sasebo, thinks that what helped to make his dining facility an award winning establishment was the fact that they put Ney guidelines into practice everyday.
"The staff is just so professional and all inspections are thorough…if there is one way to characterize the reason why we received five-star accreditation, I would have to put it mathematically: Teamwork plus hard work plus dedication equals Ney Award," said Avila.
Being inspection ready at all times is a must for Navy dinning facilities. Within the last few years several policies and procedures have changed, increasing the quality of food services provided by the military.
"The inspector doesn’t announce that he’s coming to do the inspection because he wants to see what kind of services are available day to day. Before, we would know months in advance when the inspectors were coming so a lot of work went into preparing the galley for inspection, all for one day. Everybody realized that this isn’t effective so it was changed," Bowhall said.
Having these unannounced visits means that chow halls will have to maintain a superior dining facility at all times. If the last two awards can be used as a window in which to view Yokosuka’s chow hall future, it won’t mean any extra work for the staff attached to the Jewel of the Far East.
"We want to keep the level of service as high as it is, the standard that we’ve already achieved and not to let them fall, we want to maintain them. We’re here to take care of the people stationed in Yokosuka," said Ozzieosburg.
As a result of this award, a representative from each dining facility will to travel to Chicago to be presented with the award by the IFSEA. Also a selected number of mess management specialists fleet-wide will attend a 10-day culinary training program at the Culinary Institute of America in California.
A U.S. 7th Fleet new story, dated March 31, 2000.