FORT IRWIN, Calif. --
Marines quickly formed a long line in front of the field mess tables as the food service specialists began serving the evening meal. Sgt. Arturo Torres, a food service specialist with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, worked quickly, flipping quesadillas as his Marines served the line.
While hot field rations are usually available at most field exercises and operations, 1st LAR’s field mess unit takes it a step above the rest, said Lance Cpl. Austin Mann, a mortar man with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
“The field mess we have been lucky enough to eat during exercise Desert Scimitar has completely changed my opinion on field hot rations,” said Mann. “Sgt. Torres has done an exceptional job and he went above and beyond in preparation for this exercise.”
Prior to being a food service specialist with 1st LAR, Torres held a position as a general’s personal cook, where he was given many opportunities to improve his craft.
One of the biggest opportunities he received was the chance to go to culinary schools in San Francisco and New York, Torres said.
“When you work in the food industries everything that you can do successfully depends on the experiences and skills that you have learned through trial and error,” said Torres, a native of Dallas, Texas. “I was incredibly fortunate to be able to go to these culinary schools and improve myself, so now I bring back all of that knowledge and apply it to my work on the job here.”
One of Torres’ meal plans involved using extra chicken and chorizo to make quesadillas for the Marines who were willing to wait a little longer for food, while providing the Marines who didn’t want to wait with a chili and rice.
Torres says he takes great pride in his work and takes extra time to make sure he has what he needs to put his meals over the top.
“I never set up my cooking station without trying to impress every single person that eats my food,” Torres said. “If that means taking my own time to do something extra to prepare for the meals then I will do it.”
Cpl. Zachary Kirby, a Marine who works alongside Torres, said Torres tries his hardest to be creative and challenge his junior Marines to make the best meals possible.
“Whenever Sgt. Torres comes up with a meal plan, we are excited to see his new ideas,” Kirby said. “Everything he makes is usually a hit with the Marines who get to eat it and he is always trying to pass his knowledge and experience on to his junior Marines.”