I Corps cooks are ready and willing to serve over 1,200 meals a day
During exercises such as I Corps' most recent warfighter rotation, soldiers across I Corps are enhancing real-world readiness through training. For cooks of I Corps, Warfighter exercise 18-2 involves working in the field like they would on any other mission.
"Anytime we are in the field it's training, and being in Korea is helpful. It's a real-world environment as well as training," said Sgt. 1st Class Julio Quintanillaceron, a culinary management noncommissioned officer. "We have 1,200 meals to cook every day, we don't have the rations or equipment we have in garrison. It's a challenge."
These situations are challenging, but not too much to overcome. Some of the cooks show up six hours prior to a meal to ensure everything is ready.
"Cooking in the Mobile Kitchen Trailer (MKT) and Containerized Kitchen (CK) takes more time, we have limited equipment, and have to cook in smaller batches," said Pfc. Eddie Guffy a culinary specialist. "We do everything we can to provide for the soldiers."
Although working in garrison is important to all food service specialists, they benefit from working in a field environment as much as everyone else.
"I want to get these cooks more involved in the training, learn from each other. Always improve. If they learn something, that's all I care about," said Sgt. Maj. Robert Clark, a chief culinary management noncommissioned officer. Clark is the most senior food service Sergeant Major in the Army with over 31 years. "I love the hands on experience. Cooks need hands on training. We need to be more proficient in a field environment, if the food is bad the morale goes down, they have to learn to stay ready. You are only good as your last meal."
It's also the time where leaders pass on their wisdom and experience to younger Soldiers. Soldiers like Quintanillaceron have a lot of troops to look after during and exercise like this.
"My job here is mostly supervising and advising. I'm trying to create assets not hindrances," said Quintanillaceron.
Although the I Corps food service personnel are working hard to feed Soldiers, they couldn't do it without help from subordinate commands and organizations.
"We have great help, 25th Infantry Division helped supply NCO's and leadership. I didn't know there are so many people in Corps," said Quintanillaceron.
Local Civilians have also helped the food service team succeed during WFX 18-2 by supporting such a large body of soldiers.
"The best part of working here is the Korean staff. They're really helpful. On the days we are understaffed they jump right in and help serve and clean," said Guffy.
Working at the Corps level presents a new experience for all of these soldiers, the majority have work at the company level, only seeing one section.
"When feeding 1,200 different soldiers high quality meals, you have to be focused on everything." said Clark. My favorite part is seeing everyone at Corps creating a tighter bond. Seeing everyone every day and getting to know them," said Quintanillaceron "I love that my soldiers are getting appreciated for their hard work. People just want to come by and meet my soldiers. I love that they are getting appreciation for that."
For most on the newer soldiers this is their first exercise with this type of personnel. "I get to see everybody come through and get food, the CG down to the privates. We get to see them happy and fed," said Guffy.
The culinary personnel for the I Corps work tirelessly day and night to provide food for the soldiers during this exercise. The cooks have to show up early and stay late to make sure the time you spend eating is time well spent. Although the job is demanding, they gladly trudge along to keep the troops fed and happy.