Oak Grove teamed up with Check Defense, LCC for a five-day training course at the Oak Grove Training Center to teach Army students how to use Islamic cooking materials to prepare an authentic Islamic meal. The students learned how to cook a meal in the style and presentation that would be expected by village elders. This training encompassed instruction on Islamic culture and cooking which focused on the concepts of Halal and Haram. The concepts that were covered during the course included: identifying meat cuts from cattle, goat, lamb and poultry; cultural diversity; preserving meats, vegetables, animal hides, and cooked materials; Islamic and regional cooking techniques such as: meal preparation, cutting, grinding, and curing meat portions; preparing bread; as well as preparing and serving authentic Islamic meals with indigenous cooking equipment.
An issue that was initially overlooked was the fact that many of the students were young specialists. Islamic traditions meant that the young soldiers would have to work harder to earn the respect of the local elders. Tradition does not respect the youth. The initial course layout lacked key topics that needed to be covered for the young food service specialist to gain respect and be successful.
The course syllabus was altered slightly in order to tailor to a different level of student and toward a different mission. We directed the course to the worst case scenario. Daily exercises were also conducted to reinforce the principles presented in cultural comparisons. Future exercises will focus on a junior cook successfully running a camp kitchen and supervising local host nation personnel.