Optimum efficiency is the only thing that can prevent utter chaos when more than 4,000 people sit down at one time for dinner at 372 tables spread over a 55,000- square-foot area. Hot meals are served to all within five minutes, reflecting the efficiency that exists in King Hall, the midshipman dining hall at the United States Naval Academy. Statistics of the operation are impressive, from the capacity of automated food preparation equipment in the galley to the washing room which handles more than 40,000 pieces of silver, dishes and glassware for an average meal.
The staff in the academy's Midshipmen Food Service Division plan, prepare and serve more than 12,000 meals per day. To accomplish their tasks, they use automated food preparation equipment that handles large quantities of food.
Food preparation equipment includes two conveyor belt-fed, deep-fat fryers, that, together, can cook a ton of fried shrimp in an hour; two gas-flame broilers, also operated by a conveyor belt, that churn out 3,000 hamburgers per hour; two rotary ovens that can hold 80 roasting pans and cook 320 12- to 16-pound turkeys at a time; and six steam-jacketed kettles that can heat 750 gallons of soup.
Twenty mobile serving carts, one for every 20 tables, maintain the trays of prepared food at 140 degrees until serving time.
The academy's food service program may be operated on a large scale, but it does so with remarkable efficiency and high standards. There is a concerted effort to keep the food from becoming "institutional." Nutrition, the attractiveness of presentation, the variety of menu items and the quality of food preparation and service are paramount concerns.
The nutritionally balanced, daily diet approximates 3,500 - 4,000 calories per midshipman at a government-authorized individual ration allowance of about $4.75 a day. All meat is U.S. Choice; vegetables are Grade A Fancy; and dairy products, including 4,000 quarts of fresh milk, arrive each day.
In a typical day, the midshipmen menu might include more than 1,000 gallons of milk, two tons of meat, a ton of green vegetables, two tons of potatoes, 1,200 loaves of bread, 720 pies, and perhaps 300 gallons of homemade Naval Academy ice cream.
A daily menu might look something like this:
Breakfast - The morning meal features cheese omelets, broiled bacon and home-fried potatoes, hot cereal during the winter months, fresh fruit, more than eight varieties of ready-to-eat cereal, and freshly baked donuts, pastries or bagels. Steaming hot coffee and hot chocolate are also available. Each table is preset with milk, orange juice and all the necessary condiments.
Lunch - Lunch usually consists of sandwich-type entrees. The freshly made dessert is usually preset on the table along with milk, salad, bread, crackers and condiments. A hot soup is also preset in winter months. Just in case a midshipman dislikes the main entree, creamy and crunchy peanut butter and jelly are always available on each table.
Buffet Dinner - The evening meal is similar to lunch, but the main entree of chicken, beef or fish will be accompanied by a vegetable and potato or rice dish.
The midshipmen's favorite menu items include chicken tenderloins, chili con carne, individual pan pizza and hamburgers. Each year, King Hall continues to provide quality food and superior service to the Brigade of Midshipmen.
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