Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards

Congratulations to our 2024 winning chefs!

2024 Winners Announced!

The Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program pays special tribute to chefs and foodservice operations for their produce innovation, creativity, and all-around excellence in their use and promotion of fresh fruit and vegetables in the culinary arts. Celebrate with our winners in July at the Foodservice Conference. 

Foodservice award winner's graphic

Thank you to our Program Sponsor: 

Fresh Edge logo

2024 Winners

Business and industry
EJ Jimenez, Executive Chef/Chef instructor
Rancho Cielo Youth Campus,
Salinas, CA

Casual and family dining restaurants
Grace Goudie, Executive Chef
Scratch Board Kitchen,
Arlington Heights, IL

Colleges and universities
Jonathan Guitierrez Santiago, Executive Sous Chef
University of California Merced/Yablokoff Wallace Dining Center,
Merced, California

Fine dining restaurants
David Ruiz, Executive Chef
Scalo Restaurant,
Albuquerque, NM

Hospitals and healthcare
Roel Mesta, Executive Chef
The Village at Germantown, Germantown, Tennessee

Hotel and resort
Manfred Lassahn, Executive Chef
Hyatt Regency Hotels - Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa,
Huntington Beach, CA

K-12 Foodservice
Julie Raway, Registered Dietitian
Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES),
Endicott, NY

Supermarket and retail operators
Dorene Mills, Hannaford Chef
Hannaford Supermarkets,
Scarborough, Maine

Quick-serve restaurants
Chris Mayo, Development Manager
Scottsdale, Arizona

The nine winning chefs, and an accompanying corporate executive, receive:

  • Complimentary roundtrip airfare and registration to IFPA's Foodservice Conference, July 25-26 in Monterey, CA
  • Two nights of hotel accommodations
  • Recognition on stage at the Foodservice Conference

Selection Criteria

A panel of produce foodservice experts evaluated nominees on the following criteria:

  • Creativity in using fresh produce in concept development and menu design, including the ability to incorporate produce into culinary trends
  • Knowledge and use of proper fresh produce handling procedures
  • Produce-related outreach or special events, such as community service projects, local educational outreach, etc.
  • Recognition among peers and/or by their company, such as awards, additional responsibilities, and training

About the Categories

Business and Industry – This category recognizes chefs who regularly serve a company’s employees and guests. This might include an employee cafeteria or a corporate dining room and administrative catering where produce is used to create great cuisine and impress clients. Nominees in this category must operate in an establishment that offers regular/daily foodservice catering.

Casual & Family Dining Restaurants – This category includes sit-down restaurants with a casual atmosphere. Casual dining restaurants may provide table service (i.e. waiter/waitress service) to patrons who order and are served while they are seated and pay after eating, or provide buffet-style service.

Colleges & Universities – This category includes chefs who are in charge of dining services for a college or university. This might include cafeteria-style service for students, on-campus quick-service concepts or more formal dining concepts and special event catering where produce is used to create great cuisine and impress campus visitors. Nominees in this category must operate in a college or university setting that offers regular/daily foodservice operations.

Fine Dining Restaurants – This category includes “white tablecloth” restaurants that, most typically, serve prepared food for lunch and dinner, or dinner only. Full table service is provided in a formal setting, and the meal is served by wait staff.

Hospitals & Healthcare – This category includes hospitals or other healthcare facilities, such as senior living or long term care facilities. They likely serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the properties may never “close.” Patients/guests are often present for several days, and menus might vary frequently.

Hotels & Resorts – This category includes hotels (independent and chain), as well as resort properties. This might include chefs in charge of property restaurant concepts, special event catering and room service menus.

K-12 School Foodservice -This category includes public, private, parochial and charter schools for primary and/or secondary students (K-12). Responsibilities likely include oversight of a school district’s cafeteria menus for breakfast and/or lunch, purchasing and distribution, as well as for other school-related meals and events.

Quick Service Restaurants – This category includes establishments primarily engaged in providing foodservice (including snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars) where patrons generally order or select items and pay before eating. Food and drink may be consumed on premises, taken out or delivered.

Supermarkets & Retail Operators – This category includes establishments that primarily sell food and grocery items to customers, but who also offer foodservice options that patrons can consume in the store or take out. This might include an onsite restaurant or café, salad and prepared food bars, and/or a grab & go/prepared meals section.

Past Award Winners

​​​​​Business & Industry
Jeffery David Marlow
Chief Culinary Officer - Executive Vice President
Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, Tulsa, OK 

Casual & Family Dining Restaurants
Jason Smith
Chef Proprietor
18 Restaurant Group, Raleigh, NC

Colleges & Universities
Travis Robert Johnson
Senior Executive Chef
Levy, Notre Dame, IN

Fine Dining Restaurants
Maggie Trujillo
Culinary Director/Chef
Aqua by El Gaucho, Seattle, WA

Hospitals & Healthcare
Santana Diaz
Director of Culinary Operations and Innovation
UC Davis Health/Hospital, Sacramento CA 

Hotels & Resorts
Abel Ace Cabral
Executive Chef
The Grove Country Club, Nashville, TN

K-12 School Foodservice
Jeanne Reilly
Director of School Nutrition,
RSU #14 Windham Raymond Schools, Windham, ME

Supermarkets & Retail Operators
Malu Schlueter
Culinary Manager
Oryana Co Op, Traverse City, MI

Quick Service Restaurants
Kyle Markt
Head Chef
Farmer’s Fridge, Chicago, IL  

Business & Industry:
Chris Ross
Senior Executive Chef, Levy/ Hardwood & Oak @ The Central Bank Center: Convention Center, Rupp Arena and the Lexington Opera House
Lexington, KY

Casual & Family Dining Restaurants:
John Marshall Calloway
CEO and Executive Chef, Black Rooster Taqueria
Orlando, FL

Colleges & Universities:
Christina Betondo
Associate Director of Culinary Excellence, R&DE Stanford Dining
Stanford, CA

Fine Dining Restaurants:
Steve McHugh
Executive Chef/ Proprietor & Owner, Cured Restaurant Group - Cured and Landrace
San Antonio, TX

Hospitals & Healthcare:
Dugan Wetzel
Executive Chef, Eskenazi Health
Indianapolis, IN

Hotels & Resorts:
Stephen Varela
Executive Chef, Valley Brook Country Club
McMurray, PA

K-12 School Foodservice:
Whitney Ellersick
Senior Director, Portland Public Schools
Portland, OR

Quick Service Restaurants:
Emma Dye
Founder + Chief Salad Officer, Crisp Salads
Portland, OR

Supermarkets & Retail Operators:
Kati Lauffer
Corporate Chef, Nordstrom Restaurant Division
Seattle, WA

Business & Industry:
Director of Culinary
Lifeworks Restaurant Group
Beaverton, OR

Casual & Family Dining Restaurants:
Peyrassol Café at Southport
Renton, WA

Colleges & Universities:
Executive Chef, Dining Services
Quest Food Management Services at University of Indianapolis
Indianapolis, IN

Fine Dining Restaurants:
Executive Chef
28 North Gastropub
Melbourne, FL

Hospitals & Healthcare:
Head Chef
Goshen Health
Goshen, IN

Hotels & Resorts:
Executive Chef of Restaurants
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa
Farmington, PA

K-12 School Foodservice:
Culinary Specialist
Greenville County School District
Greenville, SC

Quick Service Restaurants:
Culinary Director
San Francisco, CA

Supermarkets & Retail Operators:
Prepared Foods Manager
Green Zebra Grocery
Portland, OR

Questions regarding the award?

Amy Marshall

Amy Marshall

Retail & Foodservice Manager