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Pte Umit Rai of 22 Signal Regiment is the latest winner of the Mackenzie Award, named after Wally Mackenzie, formerly of the Army Catering Corps. 

The award is granted every six months to a British Army Chef for outstanding achievements, either in or out of the kitchen and Pte Rai’s citation shows a clear indication of his commitment and dedication in both of these fields.

An extract from his citation states: “Pte Umit has had an exceptional year. During what has been a challenging period, he has managed to maintain his own high standards through several different avenues. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Pte Umit was part of a small team tasked with providing catering support to numerous Mobile Testing Units based within MOD Stafford; an ever-changing task requiring him to take the lead, stepping up to act as a shift 2IC in the absence of any JNCO’s. Pte Umit epitomises all that is good about the Chef CEG.”

Pte Rai has embraced technology to provide a number of healthy dishes which were then shared on Defence Connect with a step-by-step guide. He also found the time to maintain team ethos by running several virtual quizzes not only for the Catering Department, but also their families, providing a much-needed boost during a trying time.

During Exercise LOYAL LEDA, Pte Rai stepped-up again to shift 2IC, a task that required him to run operations in a field kitchen overseeing the production of meals for over 500 personnel whilst the Production Supervisor was supervising the production in a separate location. Not content with this, Pte Umit was the first to volunteer to take on the additional task of providing dispersed feeding to an additional location due to a COVID outbreak isolating a number of chefs. This resulted in longer hours, an increased workload and demanding time pressures to meet the catering output.

In the running for the award, Pte Umit Rai was boarded against a plethora of Chefs from across the Army and despite being the most junior-ranking nomination, he scored unanimously higher with his citation than anyone else who was entered.

The Army Catering Training Trust will be presenting Pte Rai with a set of brand-new knives and WO1 (Conductor) Olly Rogers RLC will also be awarding him with a Conductor’s Coin and certificate as a celebration of this fantastic achievement.

WO1 Rogers said: “Pte Umit Rai personifies everything that we expect from our people and he exemplifies the model RLC soldier.”

Pte Rai has also received a COSARRC’s Coin in recognition of his outstanding contribution and resolve during extremely testing times.