203rd cooks past the competition

By Stacy Floden, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

The 203rd Forward Support Company were recently recognized as finalist 50th Annual Phillip A. Connelly award. The unit competed in the national-level culinary competition in February and the winners will be announced in May. (courtesy photo)

CAMBELLSVILLE, Ky. — The 203rd Forward Support Company is heating up after winning their state and regional competition in the 50th Annual Phillip A. Connelly program. They participated at the national level as one of four finalists in February.

The 50th Annual Department of Army Phillip A. Connelly Program (PACP) includes finalists representing Military Garrison, Active Army Field, Army National Guard Field and Army Reserve Field. The 17 finalists represented the “Best of the Best” in Army Garrison and field feeding excellence.

“This is a great accomplishment for the unit. This is a new stand up unit that was put together four years ago,” said Sgt. 1st Class Travis May, 203rd Senior Culinary NCO. “We have all young Soldiers that have been cooks just a very short time, or people like me, that was an artillery man for 20 years then re-classed.”

The competition is a three-year process. The 203rd won the state level and competed in the regional level and won Region III, receiving $10,000 in equipment bonuses. The DA national competition wrapped up Feb. 25. If the 203rd places first, the state will receive an additional $25,000. If they place second, they will receive an additional $15,000.

“We were able to succeed because of team work,” stated May. “We are full time students or full time employees, so the hard work comes naturally.”

The competition provides recognition, promotes professionalism and excellence throughout the Army food service corps. The cooks are critiqued on their appearance as well as proper food preparation procedures. The dining facility is evaluated on sanitation and overall appearance. The evaluators also graded the unit on the maintenance of the equipment and records, licensing as well as knowledge of tactical operations.

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“When you have only been a cook section with three years of experience it is hard to pull all this together,” said May. “We had help from all the J-4 staff to make this possible.”

In addition to the 203rd, Army National Guard Field finalists include units from Delaware, Nebraska and Ohio.

Winners will be announced at the National Restaurant Association Armed Forces Training event in May in Chicago.

Kentucky is no stranger to the competition. The 2112th Transportation Company’s mess team finished second nationally after winning the region in 2017.

The Philip A. Connelly Program was established March 23, 1968 to recognize excellence in Army Food Service. The program is named for the late Philip A. Connelly, former president the International Food Service Executives Association.