Three dining facilities win USAREUR's top honors

Frank Mottin, food program manager for Army Garrison Stuttgart, whose First Choice Dining Facility was named Installation Management Agency-Europe's best Small Garrison Dining Facility for 2006.


By CHARLIE COON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 9, 2005

BÖBLINGEN, Germany — Backstage at the First Choice Dining Facility on Panzer Casern: Pots and pans are clanging, food’s being assembled as Spc. Kevin Ingham of 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group shares the secret of good mashed potatoes.

“Butter,” Ingham says as he whisks away at the spuds. “Not too much pepper, and enough salt to give it flavor.”

Ingham is part of the staff at the Panzer dining facility that won the Small Garrison Dining Facility award for Installation Management Agency, Europe Region’s Excellence in Army Food Service.

Panzer was one of three winners selected from the 53 dining facilities in Europe. The others were Camp Normandy Dining Facility in Grafenwöhr (large facility) and the 29th Support Group in Kaiserslautern (field kitchen).

In addition, two soldiers won individual honors in Europe.

Sgt. Timothy Sprague of Bath, N.Y., and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division in Vilseck, was named Food Service Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Spc. Maria Samantha R. VanDamme of Gardena, Calif., and Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 28th Transportation Battalion in Mannheim was named Food Service Soldier of the Year.

All advance to the Armywide competition, whose winners will be selected in January.

Awards were presented Thursday during a ceremony at Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg, and the entire 16-man Panzer crew was there. The kitchen, which also includes soldiers from the 554th Military Police Company, was closed.

On Wednesday, as Sgt. Nehemiah Clarke of the 1-10 restocked the salad bar at Panzer, he shared another secret for success.

“Everything has to be fresh,” Clarke said, “and well prepared.”

The Panzer crew serves about 150 meals a day for both breakfast and lunch.

Workdays start at 5:30 a.m. with an inspection of uniforms and rundown of the day’s chow.

Frank Mottin, food program manager for Army Garrison Stuttgart, said that since many of its customers are Special Forces soldiers, who are big on physical training and deployments, Panzer’s menus ramp up the calories and protein.

Staff Sgt. Eric Latson of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group serves lunch at the First Choice Dining Facility.