CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The 22 Area Mess Hall competed for the title for best Marine Corps mess hall during an evaluation, Feb. 24.
Lt. Col. Richard Kohler, director of food services for the Marine Corps, and Master Gunnery Sgt. Bryan Velloza, senior enlisted advisor for food services for the Marine Corps, were accompanied by Jack Kleckner, a representative of the National Restaurant Association, to evaluate the 22 Area Mess Hall for the Maj. Gen. William Pendleton Thompson Hill Award. The W.P.T. Hill Award was established in 1985 to improve food service operation and recognize the best mess halls in the Marine Corps.
The 22 Area Mess Hall is unique in its drive-thru window, walk-in window and spacious dining area which enables it to service more than 2,000 Marines at any given meal.
“We try to find the best of the best,” said Kleckner. “They’re already winners just for being chosen to compete, but one will come out on top.”
The 22 Area Mess Hall has only been open since 2013 but this is not its first time being nominated for the award. The crew remains optimistic despite being beaten out for the award in the past.
“Everyone says we’re the best chow hall in the Marine Corps,” said James Irvine, one of the mess hall’s many dedicated cooks. “We might not have won yet, but I’m not worried.”
Facilities hoping to compete for the annual award must first be evaluated at the local level by base food services representatives. The representatives then report the top three for each region to Headquarters Marine Corps. Headquarters Marine Corps then sends their W.P.T. Hill evaluation team to grade the mess halls on 11 categories highlighting sanitation, food acceptability, management and food preparation.
Winners of the W.P.T. Award will be given a trip to Chicago to take part in an award ceremony for the best mess halls in the military with each branch of service offering its own trophy.