Chicago, Illinois - Winners of the 2018 Capt. Edward F. Ney Awards for culinary excellence attended training hosted by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) as part of the Military Food Service Awards in Chicago, Illinois, May 17-19.

Over the course of the three-day program, NRAEF also provided specialized culinary training to award winners from the Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Military Sealift Command. The training offered a unique opportunity for everyone to share and explore the experiences of their fellow service members working in dining facilities across the globe.

Prior to the training, Dr. Edward Walden Sr., special director of Military Programs for the NRAEF, gave attendees an overview of the training, noting the training teaches valuable skills and offers lessons that will assist them in the civilian workforce.

“You have spent a long period of time in your career honing your skills to be able to run an efficient military dining facility,” said Walden. “Many of those skills will transition when you become a civilian working in the industry. The NRAEF wants to expose you to what’s available to you as you begin the transition to civilian life. That’s what this training is about.”     

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, Research and Knowledge Group, National Restaurant Association, presented trainees with a briefing on current restaurant industry trends. Topics of discussion included macroeconomics, dining trends, restaurant industry growth, society developments, and an increase in post-military service job opportunities.

“This training is providing valuable information that I can pass on to my younger Sailors,” said Command Senior Chief (JW/AW) Marlo Guevarra of Naval Air Station Sigonella Ristorante Bella Etna. “This is a great opportunity. I’ll be able to give accurate guidance on what is available to them in the civilian restaurant industry, tips on transitioning to the civilian workforce, and how the economy affects the restaurant industry as a whole.”  

Trainees heard from NRAEF experts about customer service, cost control, leadership, and how to communicate effectively. After the lesson, awardees broke into groups and role-played various customer service scenarios.

“This isn’t like the training the Navy provides every day. This type of training is personalized, specialized training on more than just how to cook or prepare food,” said Naval Base Kitsap Trident Inn Galley Culinary Specialist (Submarine) 2nd Class Kevin Bohler. “This training is providing guidance on how to keep galleys running. Practicing great customer service helps galleys stay up and running. It also ensures culinary specialists have the skills necessary for future jobs.”

The second and third days of training provided awardees with expert guidance on product research and presentation development, healthy eating, and an increased focus on health conscious options on menus.

“This experience goes beyond the Navy,” said USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Bret Waddle. “The stigma when you’re in the military is that you’re scared of the outside world  because you’re worried you won’t get a good job that can support your family or yourself. However, attending this training and learning about career opportunities in the food service industry is eye opening.” 

The Ney Awards, announced in a February ALNAV message, were presented during an evening ceremony May 17.

After President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association Dawn Sweeney provided opening remarks, retired U.S. Army master sergeant Chef Andre Rush gave the keynote address.

“You’re all winners and I’m looking forward to seeing your adventures,” said Rush. “Be humble, stay humble, and do the best that you can every time.”

This year’s afloat winners, representing the Navy’s Undersea Enterprise, Surface Warfare Enterprise, and Naval Aviation Enterprise, were USS Santa Fe (SSN 763), USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), USS Boxer (LHD 4), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

This year’s ashore winners, representing Commander, Navy Installations Command, were Trident Inn Galley, Bangor, Washington, and Ristorante Bella Etna Dining Facility, Sigonella, Italy.

“Our culinary specialists are trained with the latest, most advanced training aids and techniques available in order to effectively support afloat and ashore food service operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Wodele, Navy Food Service director, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP). “The 2018 NEY award winners are fine examples of that training.”

NAVSUP Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Thaddeus Wright added his own congratulations. “This year’s winners have shown professional pride in the quality of the services they provide to the fleet in support of mission readiness,” said Wright. “They recognize that Navy food service is crucial to the wellness of our forces. Day in and day out, they provide quality, healthy food that supports peak physical and cognitive performance of the warfighter.”

The Secretary of the Navy and the International Food Service Executives Association established the Capt. Edward F. Ney Awards Program in 1958. The awards recognize the best galleys in the Navy and encourages excellence in Navy food service programs with the objective of improving quality of life for Navy personnel.

“What it takes to win the Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award, is hard work every day and thinking Ney every day,” said Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Program Manager Cheryl Hernandez. “We strive for excellence in Navy food service with the objective of improving the quality of life for our fellow Sailors. Congratulations to the best of the best on a job well done!”