MacDill Airmen, chefs: a recipe for success Published March 27, 2012 By Senior Airman Rachelle Coleman 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida -- In cafeteria kitchens not far away, seven Airmen learned a new style of food service to help improve the quality of dining provided at the Diner's Reef dining facility here. While most training after technical school is conducted on the job, Airmen from the 6th Force Support Squadron Sustainment flight took an opportunity to train with some of MacDill's contracted counterparts for three months in three commercial kitchens around Tampa. The training helped them to update methods they intend to put into use in the newly renovated dining facility. The facility closed its doors Jan. 9 to make improvements that will help feed the growing number of patrons daily. In addition to a new look, the dining facility will have a fresh approach to service by offering more options at meal time. The Airmen who were trained on areas they were familiar with learned better, quicker ways to prepare the food items and different ways to enhance the flavor. "We're trying to bring better ways to cook back to the base by interacting with their cooks, learning from their experience," said Senior Airman Brady McDede, 6th FSS Sustainment flight prep cook. At each training location the Airmen worked with Chef John Hackett, an executive chef, on different stations in a commercial kitchen; stations included cooking light--a healthy cooking station, an Italian station with pizzas, and an express station with sandwiches, salads and other grab-and-go foods. "It's going to help me to train the other Airmen that didn't get to learn these new ways that we're trying to incorporate," said McDede. Hackett has been in the food industry for 25 years and liked sharing a different style of food service with MacDill Airmen. "It's a chance were they can be surrounded by people who are in the culinary profession, where they can see the passion and how people go about their daily jobs," said Hackett. "Maybe we can instill some of that passion for food to bring back to the base. It's been a good experience, I really enjoyed it." Presentation, quality, creating the same look restaurants use to set up with the different stations were part of Hackett's program. According to Master Sgt. Lisa Lyons, 6th FSS assistant dining facility manager, before the improvements were made to the dining facility the DFAC would serve 300 to 500 meals daily. Now they are able serve 1,500-1,800 meals daily. "The training has impacted the dining facility in numerous ways," said Lyons. "We now have two personnel that are fully trained on the new cooking light station and it didn't cost the Air Force any training dollars." As the new dining facility will provide the opportunity for Services Airmen to offer more food to customers, sustainment Airmen will be a lot busier than before. "Our Airmen are able to accomplish more work in a shorter period of time which is one of the greatest benefits," Lyons added. Trained by chefs and armed with the tools to provide new meal experience, the Airmen of the Diner's Reef dining facility are more than prepared to reopen the doors and serve MacDill's workforce.