Demon Diner Wins Philip A. Connelly Award

By J. Parker Roberts | 1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS | August 04, 2014

“Big Red One” Soldiers are often recognized for their skills, and the 1st Infantry Division’s Soldier chefs are no exception.

Food service specialists from the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade’s “Demon Diner” dining facility demonstrated their skills in Phase II of the Philip A. Connelly evaluation, taking first place in the competition.

“I am extremely proud of the Soldiers and leaders of our Demon Diner,” said Col. Matthew Lewis, commander of the 1st CAB. “This accomplishment is a great tribute to all of our food service professionals in the aviation brigade who serve our Soldiers each day with tremendous heart, enthusiasm and bravery, with many of them who were called away to serve in combat with us as door gunners during our recent deployment to Afghanistan. They are led by our great dining facility manager, Staff Sgt. Andrea Dyson, who committed herself and her team to achieving the highest standards of excellence representing the Big Red One during this grueling competition.”

The 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Dining Facility at Fort Carson, Colorado, was the runner up in the competition. Phase II saw dining facilities from across Installation Management Command West compete. Phase III will see Demon Soldiers in direct competition with other facilities at the Forces Command level. Those facilities taking first place in Phase III will soon compete at the Department of the Army level in Phase IV.

Soldiers from the 407th Army Field Support Brigade served as evaluators for the Philip A. Connelly competition. “The 407th AFSB Connelly winner and runner-up were chosen based on exceeding the Army Food Program standards and providing world-class food service within the Basic Daily Food Allowance allocated for each dining facility customer,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Mozenko, command food technician for the 407th AFSB, in an email announcing the winners.

“The 407th AFSB Connelly winner and runner up demonstrated excellence, innovation and forward thinking by challenging the accepted status quo and by implementing many industry best practices currently bringing customers into civilian-sector restaurants.”

Evaluators from the 407th AFSB traveled to Fort Riley June 20 to observe servers and cooks at Demon’s Diner. Pfc. Timothy Parker, a food service specialist with Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Inf. Div., said the teamwork and communication skills Soldiers at the facility exhibit were key to their victory.

“It’s not quiet in the kitchen; there’s talking,” Parker said. “It seems like it flows better.”

The Demon’s Diner was praised for their color-coded uniform policy, warm and inviting atmosphere and variety of nutritional meals offered.

“That felt pretty good,” said Spc. Donavon Sanford, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., of winning the Connelly. “There’s a lot of work that you do, and it pays off when you hear that. It makes you feel like what you’re doing is important.”

Sanford said the day evaluators visited Fort Riley was an average day at the dining facility, featuring the same quality of food and service that Fort Riley Soldiers see every day. “The Soldiers were super motivated,” Dyson, the dining facility’s manager, said of the evaluation day. “They came out here and did well above their job.”

Dyson praised her Soldiers and Fort Riley for the victory.

“The collective effort of post is what really got us to this level,” she said. “It makes us all feel good. It shows what a bunch of people can do when they get together and put their mind to it.”