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Produce Excellence in
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Honoring the Use of Fresh Produce in the Culinary Arts

The United Fresh Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program, now in its thirteenth year, pays special tribute to chefs and foodservice operations for excellence in the use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. This year, the program also allows us a special way to praise their dedication to feeding their patrons. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated foodservice channels in unimaginable ways, and these chefs, among thousands across the country, have demonstrated fortitude and creativity as they have been forced to innovate their models to operate in this unprecedented environment.


Congratulations to this year’s Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award winners:

  • Business in Industry: Chef Michael Smith, Executive Chef, Company Kitchen, Omaha, NE
  • Casual & Family Dining Restaurants: Chef Travis Peters, Executive Chef, The Parish, Tucson, AZ
  • Colleges & Universities: Chef Joey Martin & Al Ferrone, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
  • Fine Dining Restaurants: Chef Bonnie Morales, Executive Chef & Owner, Kachka, Portland, OR
  • Hospitals & Healthcare: Chef Laura Gomez, Executive Chef, The Stratford, Carmel, IN
  • Hotels & Resorts: Chef Daniel Bruce, The Boston Harbor Hotel, Boston, MA
  • K-12 School Foodservice: Chef Mike Yip, District Chef, Union Public Schools, Tulsa, OK
  • Quick Service Restaurants: Marissa Thiry, Nutrition Specialist, Taco Bell, Irvine, CA
  • NEW CATEGORY! Supermarkets & Retail Operators: Chef Randy Weed, Vice President Culinary, Plum Market, Farmington Hills, MI  


These winners were selected from nominations submitted by produce companies and foodservice operations across North America. United Fresh coordinated a review of each nominee's incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of food safety protocols for proper produce storage and handling, leadership in produce-related community service and special events, and recognition by their company and industry peers.


All winners will be honored during the Retail-Foodservice LIVE! General Session at United Fresh LIVE! the week of June 15. We invite all of their corporate team executives and members, peers and family and friends to also join in the celebration through United Fresh LIVE!, a virtual event platform. The Retail-Foodservice LIVE! General Session will be hosted in real time and further available on-demand.

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About the Categories

Business in 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.


NEW! 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.


Thank you to our Program Sponsor:

For more information about the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program, contact Miriam Wolk,Vice President, Member Services at 202-303-3410.