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National Restaurant Association - Hennessy Awards travelers begin mission

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Hennessy Awards travelers begin mission

Two National Restaurant Association board members have begun their mission to tour the U.S. Air Force's global foodservice operations in preparation for the 2012 John L. Hennessy and Major Gen. W.P.T. Hill Awards ceremony in May.

This year's two Hennessy travelers -- David Stockman, senior vice president of operations for Lawry's Restaurant Inc., and Jeff Berlind of BP Partners in Pound Ridge, N.Y. -- are visiting six to eight military bases around the world to evaluate and determine this year's potential award winners.

The Hennessy Awards recognize the best foodservice operations in the Air Force while the Hill Awards honor the best foodservice operations in the Marine Corps. The awards will be presented at a formal breakfast May 5, during the annual National Restaurant Association's Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago, May 5-8.

Carmen Vacalebre, president of the Hennessy Travelers Association Educational Foundation, said Stockman, who will be the single-unit installations evaluator, and Berlind, who will examine multiunit facilities, will not only evaluate the bases, but will also consult and offer advice on how to improve foodservice operations.

"They will evaluate each base or dining facility in such categories as administrative, health and safety, and food operations," he said. "They'll also observe the breakfast, lunch and dinner programs and in some cases a fourth day part -- the flight line, which is a late night menu available for arriving and departing pilots and other personnel. They'll look at issues like timing and even make suggestions on food items, portion sizes and cooking methods. We're mostly involved in the operations process because we’re restaurant people."

He added that the two men began their tours starting with an orientation at the Air Forces Food Service Headquarters in San Antonio on Jan. 31, and will evaluate military bases through March 3.

"They will be away from their families for almost five weeks, but this is serious business," Vacalebre said. "Our goal is to give back to the military by sharing our knowledge and consulting and advising to help in any way we can."

He also noted that the Hennessy Travelers Association Educational  Foundation, in addition to the travelers program, raises funds annually to send military personnel from the winning bases to the Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence at the  Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, Calif. There they attend a week of classes and "hands-on" workshops with restaurant industry professionals. Last year, the association raised approximately $120,000 with the help of major contributors like the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, and sent 18 airmen and seven marines to the CIA event. It currently is in the process of planning this year’s Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence program.

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