650th RSG Soldiers participate in culinary training

By Story by Capt. Fernando Ochoa | 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) | Nov. 26, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015 — SLOAN, Nev. – Soldiers from the 650th Regional Support Group participated in a Joint Culinary Training Program exercise at the George W. Dunaway Army Reserve Center in Sloan, Nevada, Nov. 15.

Sponsored by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, this training is designed to be a module for identifying those personnel who will compete at the annual U.S. Army Culinary Arts Competition held at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Spc. Marcos Houston, Pfc. Kassandra Angeles and Pfc. Genephere Mata, members of the 650th RSG, and Staff Sgt. Markos Mendoza, 257th Transportation Company, were the Soldiers who were trained and learned extra culinary skills at this event.

“This training is both the re-establishment of our basic skills and an opportunity to learn more expertise skills,” said Mendoza. “I like preparing food because it is when we prepare special meals, like Thanksgiving, that we remember those times with friends and family that will always be in our hearts.”

The designation for U.S. Army cooks is 92 Gulf, which stood for Food Service Specialists, but this designation was recently changed and these Soldiers are now known as Culinary Specialists.

Culinary Specialists are constantly sought after and will continue to meet the logistical requirements in support of all present and future missions. The goal is to maintain readiness throughout the force, while at the same time trying to reduce the turbulence for Soldiers and their families. 

This training exercise is designed to give Culinary Specialists extra skills that will enhance their meals and presentations.

“The best part of this training is that we get to train with Soldiers from other units,” said Houston. “And, we exchange and learn skills from them that we can use in our meals and presentations.”

During this training, these Soldiers were taught knife skills, menu development, advanced baking techniques, buffet platter production and presentation, production of three to seven course meals, nutrition value and advanced dessert preparation.

At the end of the day, senior NCOs taught the junior personnel how to set up and display the meals they had work all day to produce.

This training was successful not only because new skills were taught, but also because new contacts and friendships were developed.
The Joint Culinary Training Directorate, who identifies and trains new Culinary Specialists, is responsible for the development, management and oversight of Army and Joint Services basic and advanced food service training provided for all branches of the Armed Forces of the United States. 
 
The 650th RSG was constituted in the Army Reserve in 1998 at Salt Lake, Utah. The unit was reassigned to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2007. In August 2010 the unit deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. 

In 2011, the 650th RSG was realigned under the 311th Sustainment Command and took control of three battalions: 314th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 469th CSSB and the 483rd Transportation Battalion. Its area of operation spans over three states, including California, Nevada and Arizona.