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Better ingredients, new recipes innovate Cannon dining experience

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Airmen line up and order lunch at the Cannon Dining Facility at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, Nov. 7, 2018. After updates to their menus over the last several weeks, the dining facility has made progress toward a college campus aesthetic that allows for more custom eating experiences. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

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Gary, a 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron member, prepares lunch at the Cannon Dining Facility at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, Nov. 7, 2018. It now offers new fresh food options that help strive toward a healther and higher quality experience for customers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

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27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron members prepare lunch at the Cannon Dining Facility Nov. 7, 2018, at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. It now offers new fresh food options that help strive toward a healther and higher quality experience for customers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

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27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron members prepare lunch at the Cannon Dining Facility Nov. 7, 2018, at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. It has brought a new "NRich" station that offers more options like a chimichurri steak bowl, teriyaki tofu bowl or the very popular bourbon glazed jalapeno burger. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

When Airman 1st Class Michelle Brooks, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron food service apprentice, opens the kitchen up to begin the day, she takes part in the morning meeting that prepares all Pecos Trail Dining Facility Airmen for the workday. She’s given a specific station to focus on and soon begins working on completing small tasks to contribute to the overall mission of providing three full meals for thousands of Airmen across Cannon.

 

Though demanding, the job has still afforded Brooks and others the opportunity to change things.

 

“That’s my favorite part of the job,” Brooks said. “New recipes and new techniques make the job interesting and keep it from getting old.”

 

And that’s exactly what the 27th SOFSS has done. Since September, they’ve been able to implement new menus and concepts in the kitchen.

 

“We went from serving pizza by the slice with basic ingredients to serving personal pizzas with a wider range of fresh toppings,” said 1st Lt. Steven Gour, 27th SOFSS food services officer.

 

In addition to that, the grill station has new items such as fresh bowls and specialty burgers. The global station also has four different concepts (Noodle House, Sizzle, Habaneros, Spice Market) that rotate on a two-month basis.

 

“Cannon is lucky enough to be one of the bases selected for a new food concept called Food 2.0,” Gour said. “This allows Airmen on a meal card to eat at other locations across base such as the bowling alley, Drop Zone, club and golf course.”

 

Not only do Airmen have a wide variety of food choices and dining locations, they also have the ability to enjoy the experience it all combines together to make.

 

“Our goal is to create a relaxing, enjoyable dining experience,” Gour said. “We strive to offer a variety of choices, to include healthier options, and to provide the highest quality of food possible for our customers.”

 

Part of this capability stems from the cooperation that Air Force dining halls share with Sodexo, who manages food operations across the world in the civilian sector, with a large portion of that being college campuses. The experience and ambition that they bring with the resources held by the Air Force help to improve dining experiences worldwide.

 

“This is a huge step forward for us,” Gour said.

 

This dining experience, through changes and innovations, is put on by a team of talented Airmen that aren’t often seen when they’re busy behind the kitchen counters. When Brooks is preparing for the day, cooking for thousands of Airmen or setting up tables across the vast dining area, she confronts this sometimes thankless aesthetic.

 

“Force Support can really seem like you’re on the outside looking in,” Brooks explained. “But then, you get recognized by distinguished visitors, everyday customers, leadership or your peers and you remember that you’re a part of the heart of the operation.”