November 10, 2017

Nominations open for the 2018 Produce Excellence in Foodservice awards program

United Fresh has opened the nomination period for its 2018 Produce Excellence in Foodservice awards program which honors the “foodservice industry’s most innovative produce performers.”

The program has honored more than 50 chefs and foodservice operators for their exceptional work in incorporating fresh produce in menu development, proper food safety and handling, engaging in community outreach and building an overall positive dining experience with an emphasis on fresh produce.

Winning chefs and foodservice professionals will be recognized in eight categories:

  • Business in Industry
  • Casual and Family Dining Restaurants
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Fine Dining Restaurants
  • Hospitals and Healthcare
  • Hotels and Resorts
  • K-12 School Foodservice
  • Quick Service Restaurants

Winners will be selected by a panel of United Fresh member representatives. Nominations must be submitted by Jan. 19, 2018. The eight winning chefs and their corporate executives receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2018, June 25-27, 2018 in Chicago, and will be recognized at the event’s retail-foodservice celebration.

The 2017 winners in each category were:

  • Business in Industry: Ted Mathesius, executive chef, Adobe Café Lehi/Bon Appetit Management Company, Lehi, Utah
  • Casual and Family Dining Restaurants: Shane Schaibly, corporate chef and vice president of culinary strategy, First Watch Restaurants, Bradenton, Fla.
  • Colleges and Universities: Eric Lindstrom, deputy director of retail dining/executive chef, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.
  • Fine Dining Restaurants: Varin Keokitvon, chef, Heartwood Provisions, Seattle, Wash.
  • Hospitals & Healthcare: Ralph Chavez, system executive chef, Touchpoint Healthcare Services, Austin, Texas
  • Hotels & Resorts: Matt Smith, CEC, executive chef, Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square, Columbus, Ohio
  • K-12 School Foodservice: Robert Cuellar, Jr., child nutrition program director, Laredo Independent School District, Laredo, Texas
  • Quick Service Restaurants: Lacey Hudgins, head of product development, Wildflower Bread Company, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Nominations for the 2018 program can be submitted at For more information about the award program, contact Miriam Wolk, United Fresh vice president, member services, at [email protected] or 202-303-3410.

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