Local Chef caters support for Air Force Reserve Unit

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ashley Walker
  • 913th Airlift Group

What does a renowned Little Rock chef and Air Force Reserve members have in common? Passion and dedication to their own crafts. 

Chief Master Sgt. Ralph Babcock, 913th Maintenance Squadron superintendent, thanked Donnie Ferneau at his Cathead's diner restaurant for his participation in the honorary commander program and dedication to the Reservists of the 913th Airlift Group.

“Since Donnie joined the program in 2016, he’s done everything he could to learn about the service members here, their mission, and sacrifices,” said Babcock. “He’s attended the base tours, flew on a C-130J aircraft, and donated his time and food for morale events.”

Chef Donnie Ferneau, owner of Cathead’s Diner, spent three years as an honorary commander for the 913th Airlift Group. 

“It’s truly been an honor and highlight of my life to be an Honorary Commander,” said Ferneau. “Having family in the military myself, I enjoy being able to give back in the best way that I know how. I’ve learned so much in my time in the program and look forward continuing my support.”

At the beginning of the year, Ferneau waved goodbye to 100 Reserve Citizen Airmen as they departed for their deployment supporting Operations Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support. Ferneau showed his appreciation by welcoming back the Airmen and their families with a barbeque cookout. 

“The Reserves are a part-time force,” said Babcock. “These Airmen put their schooling or civilian jobs on hold to answer our nation’s call. So it’s incredible to have someone like Donnie show their appreciation. I know he will be an Air Force ambassador for life.”

Ferneau is a critically acclaimed and nationally recognized award-winning chef. He attended culinary school in Iowa under Philippe Forcioli, the former executive chef of the Orient Express. Ferneau’s career has evolved from various restaurants such as Ferneau, Good Food by Ferneau, and Cathead’s Diner. He participated in a few Food Network programs such as BBQ Blitz in 2015 and The Great Food Truck Race in 2017.  

The honorary commander program is an initiative to educate civic leaders and influencers about its military force, thusly spreading information to the wider public.  Honorary commanders are typically selected by base officials due to their position or community influence and paired with a designated unit commander.