Military Foodservice Awards

Recognizing excellence

Each year, individuals representing the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the Society for Foodservice and Hospitality Management travel with senior military officers travel to installations around the globe to evaluate food service operations. Travelers evaluate the foodservice operations and select winners from each branch. All branches of U.S. Armed Forces are recognized at an annual gala celebration dinner held each May in Chicago, in conjunction with the NRA Show.

The John L. Hennessy Award recognizes excellence in foodservice for the Air Force, the W.P.T. Hill Award honors Marine Corps foodservice operations, the Kenneth Disney Award recognizes Air National Guard, the Captain Edward F. Ney honors the Navy, the Philip A. Connelly Foodservice Awards honors the Army and the Captain David Cook award recognizes the Military Sealift Command.. The Military Foodservice Awards Dinner is attended by senior military leadership as well as the National Restaurant Association and its board of directors and other industry leaders.

John L. Hennessy Award

Established in 1957, the award recognizes excellence in Air Force foodservice operations. Judges evaluate Air Force foodservice on management effectiveness, force readiness support, food quality, employee and customer relations, resource conservation, training and safety awareness. Judges evaluate bases with single and multiple foodservice facilities.

The award is named for John Lawrence Hennessy, a hotel and restaurant executive who led the Hoover Commission’s Military Food Service and Commissaries task force to improve military foodservice. Hennessy began his hospitality career as a hotel freight elevator operator and worked his way up to vice president of Hilton Hotels.

During World War II, President Roosevelt appointed him to the War Food Committee, which was responsible for developing foodservice systems that could sustain millions of military personnel. He later was named special food consultant to the secretary of war. After the war, he evaluated the effects of radiation on food at Los Alamos and helped design the cadet dining facility at the Air Force Academy.

Philip A. Connelly Award

The Philip A. Connelly Awards Program for Excellence in Army Food Service, better known as “Connelly” is a competitive entity initiated in 1968 and has since, grown to be relevant, value added, and a robust program today.  Connelly exemplifies excellence in all facets of food service and requires top performance to be accepted into the elite group of winners and runners-up who share the winning circle.  Historical accounts dating back to the Connelly’s inception signifies that only the best of the best will be recognized. To further clarify, in 1975 no winners were selected.  

Management practices, accountability, customer service and sustainment operations are tenets of the evaluation process.  Evaluators seek to spotlight individual performance during evaluations to increase morale and esprit-de-corps.         

Mr Philip A. Connelly became a leader in his chosen profession - Food Service Management. He worked diligently and earnestly throughout his life to promote professionalism in food service, in both the civilian industry and military services. As a result of his dedicated purpose and positive influence, both food service programs are closely aligned and have uniform goals in education training, career development and job opportunities.

Today we proudly display the Connelly Emblem as a badge of honor for units who have exceeded expectations in serving only the best to our Soldiers. 

W.P.T. Hill Award

Established in 1985, the award recognizes excellence in Marine Corps foodservice operations. It is named for Maj. Gen. William Pendleton Thompson Hill, who was quartermaster general of the Marine Corps from 1944 until 1955. The Hill Award recognizes: best military/contractor garrison mess hall; best full foodservice-contracted garrison mess hall, best field mess, and best reserve field mess.

David M. Cook Award

The Food Service Management Excellence Award was established in 1992 by Commander, Military Sealift Command to improve the quality of MSC shipboard food service operations and to formally recognize the civilian mariners responsible for outstanding management of shipboard food service operations.  These food service professionals are identified annually as the best of the best by the MSC Assessment Team.

As MSC Logistics Director from 1995-1998, Captain David M. Cook, SC, USN helped improve all aspects of food service operations aboard MSC Ships.  He was the driving force behind improved operational procedures for shipboard food service and the Healthy Hearth Program for MSC's Civilian Mariners.  Captain Cook, a visionary, recommended restaurant quality, advanced foods in MSC menus to improve the quality of life for MSC crews.  He instituted programs to ensure that food service personnel received up-to-date training, maintaining the highest quality food service to the fleet.

Due to his vision, leadership and commitment to the food service program, the Food Service Management Excellence Award was officially re-named the Captain David M. Cook Food Service Excellence Award in 2002.

Kenneth Disney Award

Established in 2000, the award promotes excellence in guest service and meal quality for the Air National Guard. It is named for Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Wayne Disney, the services superintendent at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Knoxville, Tenn. The award is part of the Hennessy Trophy program. 

Edward F. Ney Memorial Award

For 57 years, the CAPT Edward F. Ney Memorial Awards program has symbolized excellence in Navy Food Service.  It has become one of the best know competitions and most coveted awards within the Navy.  It takes nothing short of a total team effort 365 days a year to win the title of "Best in Food Service."

The Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award Program was established in 1958 when the Secretary of the Navy accepted a proposal by the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA) to cosponsor a program to recognize afloat and ashore general messes (GMs) that demonstrate excellence in food service. 

Named in honor of Captain Edward F. Ney, Supply Corp, United States Navy, Head of the Subsistence Division of the Bureau of Supplies and Account from 1940-1945.  He was born in Newport, Rhode Island on November 16, 1892.

Captain Ney enlisted in the Navy in 1912, and was appointed to Acting Pay Clerk during World War I, advancing to the rank of Captain in 1942.  Captain Ney handled the multiple problems incident to determine the requirements and supervise the procurement of food for the United States Navy.  Captain Ney contributed to the high morale, comfort and well-being of officers and men in the United States Navy.  Captain Ney served from July 1938 to November 1940 as Supply Officer of the USS ARIZONA, one year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. For World War II service Captain Ney was awarded the Legion of Merit.  In addition to the legion of Merit, he had the Mexican Service Medal, the Victory Medal, Yangtze Service Medal; American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.