Inside the Gates: Tasty Treats & Temperamental Technology

Inside the Gates: Tasty Treats & Temperamental Technology

They're not on the front lines. In fact, you may never see or hear anything about these 22 men and women, working hard on the Rock Island Arsenal. But without them, you would no doubt hear some stomachs growling on the island. At the new "Treat America Café" the choices are endless.
They're not on the front lines. In fact, you may never see or hear anything about these 22 men and women, working hard on the Rock Island Arsenal.
 
But without them, you would no doubt hear some stomachs growling on the island. At the new "Treat America Café" the choices are endless.

"Today, for example, we're having a hot beef sandwich," says Camellia Austin, executive chef. "Yesterday we had chili-lime tilapia as well as an array of tacos.  We did a Jamaican jerk taco, we did a pork taco, we did a chicken taco."

It takes an army of 22 to feed the thousand people each day that come through the three cafeterias on the arsenal.

"We also offer a special cold sandwich as well as a special hot sandwich as well as soup as well as a self service salad bar," Austin says. "We do a breakfast, made to order, breakfast sandwiches, omlets, skillets, scrambles."

The culinary crew led by 26-year-old Camellia Austin, who's worked in the restaurant business since she was just 15-years-old.

"I actually worked at Culvers," Austin says. "That was my first job but I was always in the kitchen with my Grandma, when she'd make Thanksgiving dinner, I was the official taste Tester.  I realized food was delicious and I wanted to cook it."

And cook it she does, making dishes that soldiers on the island look forward to.

"My favorite sandwich is The Moose," says CW3 Shavonta Gaynor. "They have it today, so I'm really happy about that.  Ham, turkey, lettuce, tomatoes.  It's a wrap, so it's kind of healthy."

Healthy is a new trend when it comes to military meals, where everything has a calorie count. And some of those healthy options are available anytime, so the workers on the island can grab them and go.

They are made available 24 hours-a-day, thanks to new technology, self-serve kiosks offer one-stop shopping...once you figure them out.

"You order and pay at the kiosk," Austin says.  "Your ticket then prints with your first name on it to whichever station you ordered from. So if you ordered from the grill, your ticket would be at the grill.  They would then be able to make your food fresh to order. That way you always have a hot meal when you get it."

And while Austin has all the patience in the world when it comes to teaching the kiosk, the machine itself doesn't. In fact, if you're too slow the kiosk clears its throat at you.

At the end of the long day, this team of culinary commandos hangs up the tools of their trade, much like their counterparts elsewhere on the island. And just like the other arsenal workers, they'll be back at it, bright and early tomorrow.


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