Edwards AFB’s Joshua Tree Dining Facility heard Jan. 8, that they had been awarded the annual Hennessy Award for Air Force Materiel Command, Region 2, at the major command level.
Now, the staff is preparing for the next level of competition to win the 58th annual John L. Hennessy trophy, which is presented to the best food service program in the entire U.S. Air Force.
“This is the ultimate for any food service person, to win the most prestigious award,” said Paul Martin, 412th Force Support Squadron, Food Service officer. “You can put on your resume that you worked in the best food service place in the Air Force.”
Hennessy awards are evaluated on five categories including kitchen operations, serving and dining operations, training, personnel and readiness, sanitation repair maintenance and management.
According to Capt. Karena Faust, 412th Force Support Squadron, Sustainment Services flight commander, the first award was selected from an awards and decorations package accompanied by photographs and an extensive checklist.
The checklist details the everyday operations of the dining facility, assigning points for each task preformed. For example, points may be awarded for checking the quantity and quality of food consistently.
Two evaluators from the National Restaurant Association will be sent to each Air Force base in the Region 2 Category to look at the dining facilities and customer service. Edwards will be visited in February.
“It’s a huge thing for the force support community and our leadership is really excited for us to win the Hennessy Award at the major command level. It’s a really prestigious award and we’re pumped about competing at the Air Force level,” said Faust. “I’ve seen the work that our folks do and I think our chances are very good. I definitely think that we could win.”
According to Faust, if they win, this would not be the first time that the dining facility brought home a Hennessy trophy. Since that time, the facility was shut down for six years, until it re-opened in 2011. The facility is now contractor-run by Rice Services Inc.
“It is absolutely amazing that in just two years we’re Hennessy-ready. There are places out there that have gone 10, 15, 20 years and they haven’t been ready for a Hennessy award,” said Randy Spaulding, Rice Services Inc., project manager.
The DFAC is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a midnight meal. A typical meal might include three entrée choices with two starches, three vegetables, soup, chili and a variety of grilled items. The food is cooked on a standard 14-day meal plan and is made following recipe cards that the kitchen staff is required to follow exactly.
“They still manage to cook the food in a way that it’s separate from the big volume. They put out a meal that could compare to a five star hotel, in a gourmet type set up,” said Martin.
The facility serves those on base who do not receive a basic allowance for subsistence, primarily those unaccompanied Airmen living in the dorms on base.
Spaulding believes that their customer service is what will set them apart during the evaluations.
“It’s a clean environment, friendly faces at the serving line, the joy of the staff serving everyone who comes through the door. We do our best to make them feel like family,” said Spaulding.
John Hennessy, born in 1886, was a hotel and restaurant executive who was appointed chairman of the War Food Committee during World War II. His job as chairman was to develop a system for food service that could sustain millions of military personnel involved in the war effort.
Hennessy was the special food consultant to the secretary of war, a member of the National Meat Board and a member of the Restaurant Industry Advisory Commission to the Office of Price Administration.
In 1952 he became the special food consultant to the Atomic Energy Commission at Los Alamos, N.M., and studied the how food products were affected by nuclear radiation.
The winner of the Hennessy Trophy will be announced early this summer.