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National Restaurant Association - Not your grandfather's mess hall

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Not your grandfather's mess hall

They feed the men and women who defend our country -- in field kitchens, 24-hour dining facilities and other modern versions of the mess hall.

Their commitment to excellence earned them military foodservice awards in May and a trip to the Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence in October. The forum, organized by the National Restaurant Association Military Foundation, features a week of interactive workshops at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone.

Winners of the Hennessy (Air Force), Hill (Marine Corps), Disney (Air National Guard) and Ney (Navy) awards receive instruction and critiques from CIA faculty and career advice from military and food industry leaders. Workshops focus on knife skills, food safety, flavor profiles, cooking techniques, seasonal ingredients and the art of leftovers. Each day, students apply the knowledge they learn by preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for their peers, instructors and industry leaders.

Here are a few scenes from the most recent forum, which ended Oct. 10:

Pouring it on
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Luis Guardado participates in a tasting seminar led by CIA Chef Instructor Almir DaFonseca. The seminar explored various olive oils and salts.

Building collaboration
Marine Corp Staff Sgt. Ricardo Dixon (left) works with Air Force Staff Sgt. Mark Seay to prepare a meal. By working in teams, participants get to know their peers from other branches of the military.

Live demo
CIA Chef Instructo Lars Kronmark offers advice on in a kitchen demonstration.

Smart shrimp
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Geri Embler serves the winning dish in a challege to create a healthful version of a typically decadent dish. The recipe challenge was in connection with the military's Healthy Base Initatiive.

Taste test
Marine Corps Major Gen. Juan Ayala takes notes after tasting one team's dish in the healthy recipe challenge. As with other team exercises, CIA instructors and military and restaurant leaders shared their critiques after each meal.

Airman First Class Amy Tordera, Senior Airman Mirelys Feliciana-Bezares and Culinary Specialist Third Class Jaqueline Daya-Friend receive feedback on their dishes from Ayala.

Winning dish
Airman First Class Isata Tucker (left) and her team mates celebrate good news  in the healthy recipe challenge.

Real-world advice
Industry and military leaders discuss career opportunties in a panel discussion moderated by Art Myers, chairman of the NRA Military Hospitality Subcommittee. Panelists (from left to right): Steve Geske (Ventura Foods), Roz Mallett (PhaseNext Hospitality), Joe Kadow (Bloomin' Brands), Mike Gibbons (MainStreet Ventures), Ken Conrad (Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants), Ayala, Joe Halpern (Anheuser-Busch Inbev), Jack Kleckner (Ecolab) and Air Force Col. Mason

Sharing the fun
Participants pose at the CIA-Greystone campus in Sonoma County, Calif.


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