( Courtesy United Fresh )

The United Fresh Produce Association has opened nominations for the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program.

“We are proud to recognize those chefs who are committed to making produce the centerpiece of the meal, as well as inspiring colleagues, and home chefs alike, to incorporate more fresh produce on their plates,” United Fresh president and CEO Tom Stenzel said in a news release.

Since 2008, the program has recognized more than 70 foodservice leaders for integrating a variety of fresh produce on their menus, according to the release. The award also recognizes culinarians for creativity in using fresh produce in concept development and menu design, knowledge of fresh produce handling procedures, participation in produce-related special events and community service, and overall recognition by the foodservice community.

United Fresh will select the winners and honor them at the June 10-12 United Fresh 2019 Convention and Expo in Chicago, at the event’s retail-foodservice celebration, according to the release. Winning chefs, along with a corporate executive, also receive free airfare, hotel stays and registrations to United Fresh 2019.

These are the 2018 winners in each of the eight categories:

  • Business in Industry: Chef Julie Pearson, food service director, Anthem Richmond, Compass Food Group-Eurest Services, Richmond, Va.;
  • Casual and Family Dining Restaurants: Chef Michael Rypka, executive chef, vice president of culinary marketing and company founder, United States Success Foods Management Group LLC, DBA Torchy’s Tacos, Austin, Texas;
  • Colleges and Universities: Chef Mark Bedzik, culinary art faculty, university chef and greenhouse manager, Culinary Institute of Virginia, College of Culinary Arts at ECPI University, Norfolk, Va.;
  • Fine Dining Restaurants: Chef Daniel Asher, executive chef and partner, River & Woods, Boulder, Colo.;
  • Hospitals and Healthcare: Chef Damon Mangano, executive chef and district chef, ARAMARK, Hillcrest Hospital Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio;
  • Hotels and Resorts: Chef Graham Lockwood, executive chef, Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston, Mass.;
  • K-12 School Foodservice: Eric Goldstein, chief executive, School Support Services, New York City Department of Education, New York, N.Y.; and
  • Quick Service Restaurants: Ryan Krebs, director of foodservice, Rutter’s, York, Pa.

Submit your nominations at www.unitedfresh.org/fsa. For more information, contact Andrew Marshall, United Fresh director of foodservice and foundation partnerships, at [email protected] or 202-303-3407.