Chef Irvine, SMA, is cooking improvements to Army Dining items

Chef Robert Irvine visited the Pentagon in Washington, DC on August 11, 2020 to meet with Sgt.Maj. Of the Army Michael A. Grinston to discuss how the Army can improve their catering service. (Photo credit: Courtesy photo) SHOW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON – Celebrity chef Robert Irvine offered a recipe for success to senior executives Tuesday as restaurants across the Army business redesigned modernization businesses to meet modernization goals.

The host, “Restaurant: Impossible,” was hosted by Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Michael A. Grinston during a conference call with fellow leaders to chat about ways to feed soldiers and come back for more.

Unlike his popular TV show, the chef didn’t dial in to help restaurants struggling to stay afloat. Irvine, who joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 15, provided insight on how to improve the Army’s restaurants or DFACs and make them the restaurant of choice for every soldier.

Today, aged 54, the former British Navy chef has built a career in and out of the kitchen. From the lead role in several cooking shows to the use of his star power as a voice for physical and nutritional fitness. He also devotes energy to philanthropic work at the Robert Irvine Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for experienced stakeholders.

The overhaul of DFACs “is no different from what I do on TV,” said the chef during the call. Bringing troops into DFAC requires more than a coat of paint and a new shield. It should offer them “30 minutes escape” during their working day.

In order to meet these challenges, the leaders of the army face a myriad of problems large and small. Minor pitfalls include issues like adding more protein options to the salad bar, Grinston said. The larger ones include the widespread distribution of credit and debit card machines to shorten soldiers’ waiting times.

“We’re seeing improvements, but we’re not there yet,” said Grinston, because even if there are upgrades, “we have to get people into the buildings,” and that’s where the real changes begin.

How is that done? According to Grinston, three priorities come into play, including marketing, customer service and customer satisfaction. The leaders set a battle plan to accomplish this on demand.

“What is attractive from a marketing point of view?” Asked Irvine. “What makes an 18- to 24-year-old soldier – either male or female – say, ‘I’m going to DFAC.'” One idea he had in mind was to give the troops consistency with an established menu, rather than “The tedious task” of creating new menus every week.

It’s very simple: “If you give soldiers what they want, they’ll eat there,” said the cook. DFACs can do this with great food and service, “and it’s not too expensive” for troops, by the way, which only adds to their satisfaction.

Customer service is no different than going to a restaurant either, Irvine said. Soldiers want to feel comfortable while eating. By providing comfort and great food, they can be placed in a relaxed headspace during the work day.

This approach “can get more out of them” and improve the quality of their work. This is especially important in October’s Army Combat Fitness Test, Irvine said. “Eat [may be] the missing part “to successful test results.

Real food is also a high priority for high-ranking soldiers in the army. He said diet is one of the most important decisions a soldier can make.

On several occasions, Grinston has reminded the troops that eating healthy is just as important, if not more important, than being physically fit.

Educating troops about healthy eating “is an ongoing process,” Irvine said.

“We want our soldiers to be fit for their jobs,” said Grinston, who lived in the barracks for seven years as a young soldier. “I am excited about what we offer our soldiers. The most precious thing is that we learn as we walk. “

Ultimately, upgrading DFAC’s operations can help modernize the Army’s nutritional needs, he said. By improving the nutrition options at DFAC and making them available more quickly, the cognitive and physical performance of individual soldiers will be improved.

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