CAFÉ president Mary Petersen (from left) awarded Don Odiorne, formerly of the Idaho Potato Commission, the 2019 CAFÉ Champion Award at the 15th-annual CAFÉ Leadership Conference in Charlotte, N.C. ( Courtesy of CAFE )

Don Odiorne was honored with the first Champion Award from the Annapolis, Md.-based Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education for his help connecting the foodservice industry to culinary educators. 

Odiorne, who recently retired as the Idaho Potato Commission’s vice president of foodservice, received the surprise recognition during CAFÉ’s 15th annual Leadership Conference in Charlotte, N.C., June 20-22, according to a news release. Odiorne was with the commission for 30 years.

The award recognizes individuals who have assisted CAFÉ in linking the foodservice industry with culinary educators throughout the nation.

“Without the support and encouragement of engaged industry partners like Don Odiorne and IPC, it would have been difficult to succeed when there are so many challenges facing, not only the foodservice industry, but also culinary education and its delivery, relevance and outreach. Don has helped immeasurably with the obstacles facing culinary programs in the U.S,” CAFÉ President Mary Petersen said in the release.

Odiorne’s vision included sponsoring the IPC Innovation Award, recognizing innovative approaches to culinary arts education at the secondary and postsecondary levels. This award is presented during CAFÉ’s annual Leadership Conference and is open to culinary arts instructors nationwide. More than 40 instructors have received awards totaling more than $50,000 in scholarship funds, according to the release.

Odiorne began his foodservice career in Denver. He owned fresh pasta restaurants, a regional pizza franchise and consulted on several major sandwich, coffee and dessert concepts. Before joining the Idaho Potato Commission, Odiorne was promotions director for the California Lettuce Commission in Salinas, Calif. 

Odiorne directed the website, creating the Dr. Potato blog, which now has more than 600 posts of tips on potato preparation. He also worked with more than 100 food bloggers to encourage the use of Idaho potatoes in their recipes and videos.  

His additional awards include The Packer’s Foodservice Achievement Award in 2013, International Foodservice Editorial Council’s annual Betty award for foodservice publicity, and in the food blogger community he received the Camp Blogaway Golden Pinecone for brand excellence as well as the Sunday Suppers Brand partnership award.

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