Military meals will get a culinary upgrade at the 2014 Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone in Santa Helena, California, October 6-10, 2014. This annual National Restaurant Association Military Foundation (NRAMF) event recognizes outstanding military servicemen and women from various foodservice operations at Air Force, Air National Guard, NavyMarine Corps Military Sealift Command installations/ships around the globe, and offers training, education, mentoring, and networking.

This year’s program places increased emphasis on 110 percent utilization of ingredients and leftovers and healthy preparation aligned with the U.S. Military’s Healthy Base Initiative. Participants in the weeklong educational program will hone their culinary and foodservice management skills by participating in interactive seminars, hands-on cooking activities, and mentoring and career-coaching sessions. Highlights include interactive sessions on flavor dynamics and global cuisine, repairing and reviving recipes, and techniques for cooking seasonal dishes. On Thursday, the agenda includes Unitized Group Ration (UGR) breakfast, lunch, and dinner challenges, as well as a healthy meal recipe challenge.

Following their graduation on Friday, students will tour the Napa Wine Train’s exclusive kitchen and some participants will cook alongside chef Kelly McDonald during the wine train dinner service. Chef McDonald has a long history of supporting military members and their families and comes by it through his own personal experience. His father, Dick McDonald, is a WWII veteran and was part of the 82 airborne division that dropped into Normandy on D-day. McDonald will be on-hand on the Napa Wine Train to talk to the students and share his experience.

“It is truly humbling to be able to give back to our military servicemen and women, when they are giving so much for our industry and our nation,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “Events like the Armed Forces Forum allow us to connect with military personnel to further develop the skills and passion that will help them transition into rewarding restaurant careers.”
According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), more than 250,000 military veterans are employed in the restaurant industry. In the next five years, the NRA projects the number of additional employment opportunities to increase by 25,000.

As a donation to the NRA Military Foundation, Anheuser-Busch is the 2014 Supplier in Residence for the Salute to Culinary Excellence, and will sponsor the NRA Military Foundation’s welcome reception at its Budweiser brewery in Fairfield, California. Participants will experience a beer and food pairing seminar led by fifth-generation brewmaster and past president of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, George Reisch, who leads the company’s brewmaster outreach.

“For more than 150 years, Anheuser-Busch, its employees, its foundation, and its family of wholesalers have supported America’s armed forces through numerous programs and philanthropic efforts, and this is one more way in which we are able to lend our support,” says Reisch. “Beer is the perfect complement to food, and an excellent ingredient, too. We are pleased to provide additional culinary training to enhance and build on their current skills, while also positioning them for rewarding careers in the restaurant industry once they are no longer on active duty.”

In addition to Anheuser-Busch, several well-known foodservice and hospitality companies generously support the NRAMF, including Ecolab, Hobart, BJ’s Brewhouse, Sodexo, Ventura Foods, Rose Packaging, Aramark, and Sysco, among many others.

The following military personnel will participate in the 2014 Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence:Cpl Kelly Adams,A1C Ashlee Barkeloo,Gavin Barker, CS2(SW) Ricky Bemis Jr,A1C Angela Berg, CS2 Shielamarie Cabunoc, SSgt Latonia Clark, A1C Benjamin Cole, SSgt Ricardo Dixon, Sgt Geri Embler, SrA Mirelys Feliciano-Bezares, CS3 Jaqueline-Daya Friend, SSgt Tyler Gaswint, GSgt Luis Guardado, CS3(SS) Daniel Gum,  Sgt Cordarro Holmes, SrA Steven Johnson§  SrA Joon (Jeff) Kim, Civilian Reginald Lampkin, SrA Audrey Manis, SrA Norman Martinez, Sgt Misael (Misa) Medina, SSgt Luis Mendez Jr., CS3(SW) Roy Mosby, Sgt Daniel (Dan) Russo, SSgt Mark Seay, A1C Amy Tordea , A1C Isata Tucker, TSgt Joshua Veiga, A1C Savannah West, Sgt Christopher (Chris) White, CS2 Terry Yocham

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