As part of Caterer's search for the UK's best breakfast, Tom Vaughan reports on the Army's offering for its troops
An army marches on its stomach. When Napoleon coined this phrase he'd undoubtedly left the economics of feeding said army to some subordinate division of the French military machine. These days, in the British Army, it's the catering platoon. And to give the Army a good start to the day they have 28p per soldier.
When the 1st Battalion Irish Guards returned from Iraq three months ago the task was to feed 500 soldiers during their St Patrick's Day celebrations, but the days of army ration stodge are gone, and each soldier's 28p now brings a choice of 26 different items.
The set-up is a modern kitchen catering for a modern army. Healthy-eating information is everywhere. Items such as scrambled eggs are steamed bacon is grilled, then steamed. Frying pans are in short supply, and the only items to hit the oil are fried eggs, fried bread and that icon of British institutional breakfasts, eggy bread.
Beyond the full English, options range from cereal, muesli, fruit and yogurt to pancakes, croissants, pastries and pain au chocolat. The soldier's favourite item outside of a cooked breakfast? Sugar Puffs.
The team, under brigade master chef Paul Creswell, are in the kitchen at 4.30am, with breakfast served at 7am.
Unlike the breakfast, the operation has to be well-oiled: as soon as the tent opens, 120 soldiers are at the hotplate for food. In fact, if a soldier skips breakfast and suffers while on active service as a result of poor nutrition, he can be disciplined.
One thing they had in their kitchen in Iraq that they won't be serving on home soil? A rocket. One whizzed in during combat but, unbelievably, stayed unexploded before the catering platoon's eyes.
Is yours the best breakfast?
In association with Heinz, Caterer will be selecting an annual Best Breakfast offer from those featured in the Breakfastwatch column, with the winner to be announced at our spring Chef Conference in May.
To qualify, you must run a breakfast menu with a cooked offering. The sponsor's judges will be looking for food selection, healthiness and value, among other criteria.
To put forward a menu, send it and any supporting information to email@example.com.