Top chefs compete in Hennessy Competition at Dobbins

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Justin Clayvon
  • 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. – Force Support Airmen from squadrons across the Air Force Reserve Command participated in the Hennessy competition at the Force Support Silver Flag training facility here Feb. 9-12.

The Hennessy Award program, named for hotel and restaurant executive John L. Hennessy, was established in 1957 to promote food service excellence.

A team of judges made up of enlisted members and civilians from the National Restaurant Association Foundation visit installation dining facilities to evaluate excellence in management, force readiness support, food quality and production, employee and customer relations, training and safety awareness. 

Each year a trophy is awarded to teams representing the best food service programs in the Air Force and is based on the entire scope of an installation's food service program.

Master Sgt. Latoya Patterson, a Force Support Silver Flag training instructor with the 622nd Civil Engineer Group, highlighted some of the history of the Hennessy competition.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower tasked John L. Hennessy with finding a solution to the wartime feeding problem that existed during World War II, she explained. This involved finding ways to maintain food and get it to the troops efficiently. One of the programs he implemented as a solution was a competition, which highlighted the importance of Services and demonstrated what they brought to the table in support of the war fighting effort. The competition has evolved since, and now includes Reserve and National Guard units.

“Active duty, Reserve, and the Guard are all broken down into special recognition groups,” said Patterson. “We are excited to be hosting the Air Force Reserve Command special recognition program.”

Early in the program’s history, the competition among reserve units focused less on culinary arts than that of their active duty counterparts. The Hennessy competition has evolved since then to focus more on culinary arts at the Reserve level as well.  All of the elements involved in the active duty experience is now included in the Reserve program: using a grill, using a frying pan, chopping up food, plating and presentation. The judges and viewers examined these culinary techniques during the Hennessy competition at Dobbins.

Tech. Sgt. Jason Williams, Force Support Training Monitor, 919th Special Operations Group Duke Field, spoke about his experience participating in the competition and its importance in the career field.

“I enjoy the team camaraderie the most, and I have competed in five Hennessy competitions and been a part of three winning teams,” said Williams. “I think this competition is important to the mission because it illustrates teamwork and our core values.”

Patterson said the responsibilities of force support Airmen extend well beyond providing food to troops. They’re responsible for everything from allocating funds to ordering the food to maintaining an inventory of food items to eventually cooking and serving it. They are also involved in safety, decoration, plating, and customer service. All of these subcategories are highlighted and scored in the Hennessy competition.

“We always want to excel in what we do as a services troop,” said Patterson. “Not only do we provide Airmen with a place to stay and a place to work out, but it is also our job to feed Airmen and we want to do a great job at that.”