Dan GalbraithDon Odiorne (left), vice president of foodservice for the Idaho Potato Commission, accepts The Packer's 2013 Foodservice Achievement Award from publisher Shannon Shuman July 27 at the Produce Marketing Association's Foodservice Conference in Monterey,Calif.MONTEREY, Calif. — He goes by many names, such as “Dr. Potato” and “T8RMN,” his personalized license plate symbolizing “Tater Man.” He’s also a buddy of Spuddy Buddy.
Don Odiorne is the recipient of The Packer’s 2013 Foodservice Achievement Award for his work in leading the Idaho Potato Commission’s push to increase sales in restaurants.
Odiorne, vice president of foodservice for the Eagle-based commission, received the award from The Packer’s publisher, Shannon Shuman, July 27 at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference & Expo.
“He’s not only a dedicated foodservice professional but also a doctor and a rock star,” said Shuman, who talked to colleagues of Odiorne, many saying he is “compassionate and extremely understanding” of the challenges faced by his staff.
“He has a high degree of emotional intelligence,” Shuman said.
Odiorne’s achievement could be considered a sort of lifetime achievement honor; he's in his 25th year with the commission. He appeared surprised and humbled to be selected for year award.
“It’s pretty exciting to win this award after knowing those who have won it before,” Odiorne said.
Most recently, he helped the commission focus on instructional workshops for chefs and worked with food bloggers to promote potato recipes through of social media.
"We've done sessions on 'Turning Leftover Idaho Potatoes into Loot,' 'Re-Purposing Idaho Potatoes for Profitability in the Kitchen' and on potato trends such as 'Loaded Potatoes and Tots,'" Odiorne told The Packer earlier this year.
In the 2000s, Odiorne turned up the burners on campaigns to reach consumers through TV commercials and also influence corporate and celebrity chefs to more often use potatoes because of taste appeal, cost effectiveness, nutritional benefits and versatility.
In the mid-1990s, Odiorne and the commission worked to build momentum for potato bars not only in restaurants but in schools, healthcare facilities, nursing homes and other public and private institutions.
Odiorne also helped the potato industry capitalize on the fresh-cut french fry craze and “buddied up” with Idaho potato mascot and industry icon Spuddy Buddy.