Foodable Congratulates IFMA's 2019 Silver Plate Class

Presented in Chicago by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), the annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards honors some of the most successful innovators and professionals in the industry. Celebrating its 65th year, the award ceremony is in many ways considered the Academy Awards for foodservice.

Typically, only up to nine foodservice operators are selected for an award, but industry experts chose 10 special winners for this year’s Silver Plate Class:

  • Beverly Lynch, Golden Corral for Chain Full Service

  • Bill Marks, Hennepin Healthcare for Health Care

  • Don Falgoust, RLJ Lodging Trust for Hotels & Lodging

  • Lorna Donatone, Sodexo for Business & Industry/Foodservice Management

  • Peter Cancro, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems for Chain Limited Service

  • Randy Montgomery Lait, North Carolina State University for Colleges & Universities

  • Regynald G. Washington, Paradies Lagardère for Retail & Specialty

  • Rodney Taylor, Fairfax County Public Schools Elementary & Secondary Schools

  • Sam Facchini & John Arena, Metro Pizza for Independent Restaurants/Multi-Concept

Winners Rodney Taylor and Regynald Washington both shared their commitment to bettering the lives of young people through education. As Washington noted, helping people become more educated about the industry is simply “part of [his] DNA.”

Other winners like Don Falgoust, Lorna Donatone, and Bill Marks emphasized the importance of keeping the team focused on giving customers the experience they are looking for. Bill Marks in particular wanted to overcome hospital food’s stereotypical bad reputation and set a goal with his team to simply “serve good food.”

One particularly excellent Silver Plate winner is awarded with the Gold Plate. This award is determined by a panel of highly regarded foodservice experts, past winners, and national press. Watch the above video to see some interview highlights and learn more about Regynald G. Washington, who took home the gold!

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by:

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writer & Producer


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IFMA's Prestigious Gold Plate Award Goes to Leadership Legend

IFMA's Prestigious Gold Plate Award Goes to Leadership Legend

Every year, the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) holds their Gold & Silver Plate awards ceremony; a celebration of some of our industry’s most influential and successful minds. From chain restaurants to retail, to schools, the foodservice industry puts forth its best and brightest with up to 9 professionals receiving a Silver Plate award.

This year’s winners are an inspirational bunch:

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'The Academy Awards of Foodservice' — The IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards 2017

IFMA'S Gold & Silver Plate Awards

As the Oscars are for the film industry and as the James Beard Awards are for culinary, the Gold & Silver Plate Awards are the academy awards of foodservice. The celebration, which honors the nation's most prestigious operator talent, is hosted by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) every year in Chicago.

The 63rd Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards night was held on May 20th at Revel Fulton Market and highlighted eight Silver Plate Award winners, all from different foodservice categories. All of which were chosen through a painstaking, thorough jury process of the most innovative foodservice icons of the industry. From that elite group, one winner is honored with the Gold Plate Award.

The Class of 2017: Silver Plate Winners

This year's winners within eight different categories, were all nominated by the industry's leading companies. From those candidates, the Gold Plate Winner was voted on through a secret ballot by the previous Silver Plate Award winners, national trade press editors, and a group of foodservice experts.  

The Class of 2017 Silver Plate Award Winners include:

  • Independent Restaurants/Multi-Concept: Wolfgang Puck, chef and owner, Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group (nominated by Nestlé Professional)
  • Chain Full Service: G.J. Hart, executive chairman and CEO, California Pizza Kitchen (nominated by Wayne Farms)
  • Chain Limited Service: Chris Newcomb, co-founder and president & CEO, Newk’s Eatery (nominated by Wenner Bakery)
  • Health Care: Patti Oliver, director of nutrition, UCLA Health (nominated by Hobart Corporation & Basic American Foods)
  • Elementary & Secondary Schools: Betti Wiggins, executive director, Office of School Nutrition, Detroit Public Schools (nominated by Schwan’s Food Service)
  • Colleges & Universities: Ted Faulkner, director of dining services, Virginia Tech (nominated by Basic American Foods)
  • Business & Industry/Foodservice Management: Jeff Metz, president & CEO, Metz Culinary Management (nominated by Basic American Foods)
  • Retail & Specialty Foodservice: Chris Gheysens, president & CEO, Wawa Inc. (nominated by Nestlé Professional)

Meet the 2017 Gold Plate Winner: Wolfgang Puck

"I'm really appreciative, and on behalf of all my partners, all my associates all the people out there who work so hard day in and day out, who make a big difference... Thank you! " said Wolfgang Puck, owner and chef of Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, proudly as he received his award.

Puck has more than 40 years of experience in the foodservice industry. He began cooking at a young age by his mother's side, but it was his perseverance that helped him forge a culinary, and then, leadership career. Through his flagship restaurant, Spago, first opened in West Hollywood and now in Beverly Hills, Puck was able to propel his business to a whole new level by creating a friendly and inviting environment through his open kitchen. This then led to his continued success in the foodservice industry.

"When I built Spago, normally the chefs at the time are hidden somewhere in the kitchen. I said: 'Okay, I'm going to build a kitchen in the middle of the dinning room so I can see every guest and they can see me...'," said Wolfgang Puck. "Everybody used to come by, if it was John Collins, Billy Waldo, Michael Douglas, they used to come by and say hello and everything... So this is really a great thing!"

Puck's message to future operators and chefs at the 2017 Gold and Silver Plate Awards ceremony was very clear, "If you're passionate and you can dream... You can do it!"

'The Oscars of Foodservice' — The IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards 2016

IFMA'S Gold & Silver Plate Awards

As the Oscars are for the film industry and as the James Beard Awards are for culinary, the Gold & Silver Plate Awards are the academy awards of foodservice. The celebration, which honors the nation's most prestigious operator talent, is hosted by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) every year in Chicago.

The 62nd Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards night was held on May 21 at Revel Fulton Market and highlighted nine Silver Plate Award winners, all from different foodservice categories and chosen through a painstaking, thorough jury process of the most innovative and history-making icons of the industry. From that elite group, one winner is honored with the Gold Plate Award.

"The Silver Plate Award is the pinnacle. It is absolutely the top-of-the-segment award, and the difference is the Silver Plate is an individual award," IFMA President and CEO Larry Oberkfell said. "What we try to do is find the individuals [who] really have changed the business...in the company they work for, but also in the work that they do in their communities."

The Class of 2016: Silver Plate Winners

This year highlighted winners from nine different categories, all nominated by industry leading companies. From those candidates, the Gold Plate Winner was voted on through a secret ballot by previous Silver Plate Award winners, national trade press editors, and foodservice experts.  

The Class of 2016 Silver Plate Award Winners include:

  • Business & Industry/Foodservice Management: Mike Barclay, president, Southern Foodservice Management, Inc. 
  • Chain Full Service: Stephen Carley, CEO, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
  • Chain Limited Service: Charlie Morrison, president and CEO, Wingstop, Inc. 
  • Colleges & Universities: Rafi Taherian, associate vice president, Yale Hospitality, Yale University
  • Elementary & Secondary Schools: Jeff Denton, director of Child Nutrition Programs, Ponca City Public Schools
  • Healthcare: Diane Imrie, director of Nutrition Services, University of Vermont Medical Center
  • Independent Restaurants: Thom Sehnert, founder/owner & president, Annie Gunn's and The Smokehouse Market
  • Hotels & Lodging: Wolfgang Lindlbauer, chief discipline leader, Global Operations, Marriott International
  • Specialty Foodservice: Rick Abramson, executive vice president & chief operating officer, Delaware North Companies 
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Meet the 2016 Gold Plate Winner: Rafi Taherian

"I love this industry, and tonight, this industry showed me they love me back," Rafi Taherian, associate vice president of Yale Hospitality, said as he received his award, shocked and humbled. 

The fact he apologized for not having a speech prepared speaks volumes on his character as a man who does not seek recognition, and who instead focuses on working diligently to serve others. He has more than 25 years of progressive, hospitality leadership under his belt. At Yale University, through his experienced guidance and thoughtful strategies, he and his team deliver more than 14,000 meals per day at 31 foodservice operations. Taherian owes his success to the mentorship he received as he moved up through the ranks, and with this honor, he hopes he can pay back by mentoring the future.

"You know, in our industry, we need people [who] help others as they come up, the very same way I was helped. The very same was I was supported throughout my career. To make sure more people...have a chance," he said. 

IFMA's 61st Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards

IFMA's 61st Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards

With presence across the nation, a menu of comfort food, and all-day breakfast available 24/7, Denny’s has become America’s diner. But that certainly doesn’t mean soggy pancakes, stale coffee and smoky booths. Denny’s, like many other successful restaurants over the past decade, has evolved to meet consumer demands. And it has done so gracefully, without losing its voice or brand ethos.

Denny’s evolution has significantly ramped up in the past few years under the strategic direction of Denny’s President and Chief Executive John Miller. Under this management, Denny’s Restaurants has successfully rolled out a Millennial-focused, fast casual branch-off for college campuses called The Den. It has also gone through a significant real estate remodeling and rebranding, has added healthier options to its menus, and has even opened an upscale diner in Manhattan, complete with a full bar.

It’s this spirit of innovation that encapsulates what it means to be deemed an International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) Gold Plate Award Winner, an honor that Miller received at this year’s 61st Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards celebration.

The Gold & Silver Plate Awards are to foodservice operations what the James Beard Awards are to culinary.

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