Daily chow for thousands of troops may be improving soon after celebrity chef Robert Irvine, host of the popular Food Network program "Restaurant: Impossible," announced a new partnership with a company that runs dining facilities at dozens of military installations.
Irvine, whose first military restaurant opened at the Pentagon in late September, plans to work closely with Sodexo, a food-service provider that serves more than 125,000 meals daily at military bases and government buildings.
"Together, we will create nutritious meals that satisfy our troops while helping them maintain healthy and active lifestyles," Irvine wrote in a recent blog post.
Video by Daniel Woolfolk/Staff
Few details have emerged to date. Both Irvine and Sodexo declined to provide additional information.
But the deal underscores Irvine’s expanding role within the military's food service operations. A former chef for the British Navy, he just opened a restaurant in the Pentagon’s main concourse. During its first week open, "Fresh Kitchen, by Robert Irvine" was packed with service members and government employees seeking alternatives to the traditional fast-food restaurants that line the Pentagon’s food court.
Irvine, now an U.S. citizen, has traveled extensively with the U.S. military and has led philanthropic efforts that focus on service members through the Robert Irvine Foundation, which donates money to veterans advocacy groups across the country.
He recently told the Military Times that he has plans for a broader involvement in military food and nutrition and is drafting a proposal to fundamentally reshape eating options for troops across the force.
"We get a chance to see what the offerings are, what’s there. I have a definite thought process on how we can change that without costing any money," he said during an interview in August. "I have an idea to present to them about how I think the modern military should be fed."
"We take people off the street and spend all this money training them and we’ve always forgotten about the food," he said.
Sodexo Government provides services that enhance the Quality of Life to those who serve our country at 150 military and U.S. Federal Government locations in 26 states, including serving more than 125,000 meals daily.
Tilghman is Military Times' Pentagon bureau chief.