MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- This is the first time the Combat Center has hosted the Macaroni Grill to serve troops aboard the Combat Center. Their visit was coordinated through William Hunter, general manager, Dunham Hall. The goal of the event is to treat Marines and sailors who dine there to something different.
“Some of the feedback we receive from the Marines and sailors pertain to the variety of food served at the [mess hall],” Hunter said. “If we host events like this every so often, the service members will get that variety.”
This is the first time Macaroni Grill chefs have served their dishes in any military installation’s mess hall and the event was a way for the chefs to show their gratitude. Mike Kyger and Ramiro Hereia, executive chefs, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, prepared Carmela’s Rigatoni, Mushroom Ravioli and flatbread pizza as their featured dishes.
“We’re here to not only showcase some of Macaroni Grill’s [most popular] dishes, but more importantly, honor the military for all they do for us and our country,” Kyger said.
During the visit, the chefs walked around the dining area and asked Marines and sailors for their thoughts on the dishes served.
According to Hunter, visits like this benefit the service members who dine at the mess hall frequently. The visit also prepares military food service specialists who are interested in pursuing a career in culinary arts after their military service ends. Hunter hopes to coordinate with more vendors like Macaroni Grill in the future.
The four Marine food service specialists who participated in the event were able to interact with the chefs. They learned new food preparation techniques they can apply in the kitchen when serving Marines every day.
“I’m operating a pizza oven today which is something I’ve never done before and that’s knowledge gained,” said Lance Cpl. Shawn Burkmier, food service specialist, 1st Tank Battalion. “I think events like this are helpful to the cooks because it expands our knowledge and improves our skills.”