The United Fresh Produce Association has opened the nomination period for the 2014 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards.

The program has been sponsored by Pro*Act LLC since its beginning in 2008, according to a news release from Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh. Since its inception, the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards has honored more than 30 chefs and foodservice operators for accomplishments in incorporating fresh produce in menu development, proper food safety and handling, community outreach and using fresh fruits and vegetables as a menu centerpiece, according to the release.

Nominations must be submitted by Feb. 28, and nomination information is available online.

“Thousands of talented chefs work hard every day to find innovative ways to showcase fresh produce in their menus,” Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and chief executive officer, said in the release. “With Pro*Act’s generous support, we are proud to honor those chefs who are committed to making produce the centerpiece of the meal.”

The seven winning chefs and their corporate executives receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2014, June 10-13 in Chicago, according to the release. The winners will be honored at the Produce Celebration Gala, and the chefs will also take part in the education program at the convention. Pro*Act also will make a donation to a charitable organization of each winner’s choice.

“Fresh produce continues to be the rising star of the foodservice sector, and chefs play a critical role in introducing consumers to new produce items,” said Max Yeater, president of Pro*Act, in the release. “We are proud to support this exceptional program and honor leading chefs who are making fresh produce the highlight of their menus.”

For the 2014 awards, the Business in Industry & Colleges category will be split into “Business in Industry” and “Colleges & Universities,” bringing the total awards to seven.

For more information about the award program, contact Miriam Wolk, United Fresh vice president of membership & marketing, at or 202-303-3400 ext. 410.