DFAC construction begins, chefs prepare

Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Bautista, 341st Force Support Squadron food services apprentice, pours tomato sauce onto chicken Mar. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Bautista, 341st Force Support Squadron food services apprentice, pours tomato sauce onto chicken Mar. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. New chefs are being trained to prepare for the base dining facility opening later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

Airman 1st Class Xavier Wajid, 341st Force Support Squadron food services apprentice, browns ground beef for a lunch menu at the Grizzly Bend Mar. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Airman 1st Class Xavier Wajid, 341st Force Support Squadron food services apprentice, browns ground beef for a lunch menu at the Grizzly Bend Mar. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Chefs have been cooking at the Grizzly Bend while construction at the base dining facility takes place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

Col. Donna Pike, right, Air Force Global Strike Command A1 director, and Maj. Samantha Miller, 341st Force Support Squadron commander, break down drywall at the Elkhorn Dining Facility Feb. 27, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Col. Donna Pike, right, Air Force Global Strike Command A1 director, and Maj. Samantha Miller, 341st Force Support Squadron commander, break down drywall at the Elkhorn Dining Facility Feb. 27, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The facility received a contract to remodel the building after more than a year of closure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The Malmstrom Elkhorn Dining Facility took its first swing for its construction plan Feb. 27.

The dining facility, which closed last year, will be renovated to fall in line with the Food 2.0 Food Transformation Initiative, a program designed to improve serving systems.

This concept will allow for more made-to-order items, additional specialty meals, branded concepts and transform the dining facility interior into campus-style dining.

“Campus-style dining will allow our Airmen with meal cards to eat at other FSS activities around the base in addition to the dining facility,” said Maj. Samantha Miller, 341st Force Support Squadron commander. “The intent behind Food 2.0 is to give our Airmen more options that are healthier, which reinforces our 'Fit to Fight' motto."

A Caring for People survey indicated the need for change, said Master Sgt. Rachel Corrales, 341st Force Support Squadron food service section chief. “Airmen wanted flexible hours to meet their lifestyle, a greater menu variety and healthier food options.

“The initiative focuses on Airmen’s changing needs, lifestyles and preferences as well as developing a sense of community and camaraderie,” she continued. “It will also continue to provide training for FSS chefs to maintain their wartime feeding capabilities.”

The construction phase of the facility is predicted to last between nine and 12 months.

Airmen living in the dorms who receive basic allowance for subsistence, or BAS, will be placed back on a meal card when the dining facility reopens.

Food choices such as fresh fruits, vegetables and smoothies are expected to be on the menu to promote nutritious eating for Airmen.

“Our food choices each day affect our health and how you feel today or in the future,” said Corrales. “It’s part of leading a healthy lifestyle combined with physical activity.”

According to Corrales, one of the advantages of having an FTI dining facility is not only having the “campus-style dining” vibe, but food service chefs will get additional training from a professional chef to help enhance how they prepare and cook food.

From now until the facility officially opens for business, 341st FSS food service chefs are providing lunch for the Malmstrom community at the Grizzly Bend as a training ground for their food service.

“The Airmen need to know how to work with food before the facility opens, as they will be cooking for a broader scale compared to the smaller operation at the Grizzly Bend,” said Staff Sgt. Tashina Bradley, 341st FSS food service shift leader.

“I think it’ll be great for the Airmen,” she continued. “It’ll help them get another core they’ll need. I expect that my Airmen take back what they’ve learned here (at the Grizzly Bend) to the facility and help train and teach other Airmen who go over there.”

By taking up cooking at the Grizzly Bend, these new chefs are able to hone their culinary skills by learning time management, preparing food, cooking food and completing temperature checks.

“It’s a good thing that I came here (to the Grizzly Bend) first, because I’m not as experienced at cooking and I was nervous at first,” said Airman 1st Class Yi Shi, 341st FSS food service apprentice. “Now I’m sure by the time I do move over to the dining facility I’ll be able to do everything just by looking at a recipe.”
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