MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
The aroma of freshly cooked foods filled the air around the Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 field exercise compound, as food service specialists prepared a meal for the Maj. Gen. W.P.T. Hill Field Mess Competition at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C., Feb. 27.
Hungry Marines and Sailors with the squadron formed outside, as they waited to enter the crowded tents.
The W.P.T. Hill Award was established in 1985 as a way to improve food service operations and distinguish the top field and garrison messes across the Marine Corps.
“The W.P.T Hill Award is a dual awards program hosted by the Marine Corps and the National Restaurant Association,” said Lt. Col. Richard Kohler, director of food services for Headquarters Marine Corps.
According to Kohler, during the competition, three competition judges looked for the basics of field mess.
“We evaluate the Marines for one day only, watching while they prepare, cook, serve and clean up. We need to know that these food service specialists know field mess operations,” said Kohler. “Some of the basics we look for specifically are sanitation, food preparation and food temperatures. Additionally we look at the field site to see how it is set up to ensure they are following proper procedures.”
The overall purpose of the competition is to display the chef’s skills in a competitive environment, said Cpl. Devin Morgan, a food service specialist with MWSS-274.
“We are put up against other units across the Marine Corps to see who can cook the best food in the given conditions,” said Morgan.
According to Morgan, being a food service specialist is an important job because Marines across the Marine Corps rely on them daily to provide the nourishment and fuel that keeps them running.
“When I’m cooking, I look at it from the point of view that everything I cook is being consumed by my fellow Marines,” said Morgan. “That is my motivation to give 100 percent, I want people to leave the mess hall happy and with a full stomach.”
The Ironman field mess Marines prepared beef gravy with biscuit toppings and sweet and sour chicken as the main course. Additionally they prepared garlic mashed potatoes, vegetable fried rice, mixed vegetables, beef noodle soup, cream of broccoli soup, fried catfish, chicken skewers, salad, fruit salad and for dessert, green tea cheese and pound cakes, banana and chocolate pudding parfaits and a sheet cake.
Lt. Col. John P. Flynn, the commanding officer of the squadron said the competition was also used as an opportunity to incorporate fiscal year primary military education training into the event.
“For fiscal year 2015, the commandant released an order saying all Marines were required to have a PME on Iwo Jima,” said Flynn. “In order to be PME complete we decided to theme the dining room Iwo Jima. We have described the history through picture laminated place mats, memorabilia, history and artifacts. The second dining room was themed after the Montford Point Marines to educate the Marines about Black History Month.”
According to Flynn, the Marines have displayed their versatility and shown their proficiency in garrison and in the field.
The results of the competition will be announced following the judges visit to each of the four Marine Expeditionary Forces.