Nominations Are Being Accepted for the 2021 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program

United Fresh has opened the nomination period for the 2021 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. Developed to honor the foodservice industry’s most innovative produce performers, the program pays special tribute to chefs and foodservice operators for excellence in the use of fresh produce in the culinary arts, especially during this year where many restaurant businesses and operations have been forever changed. The program is sponsored by FreshEdge™


“2020 has been the most challenging year ever for the foodservice sector. We are proud to continue to sponsor the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards and have the opportunity to recognize chefs and foodservice operations who have heroically showcased creativity and ingenuity in incorporating fresh produce in their menus, even under the most challenging circumstances,” said Steve Grinstead, Chief Executive Officer of FreshEdge™. “Chefs and foodservice operators everywhere should all be commended for their work during the pandemic, and this award gives us the opportunity to recognize the best of the best.”


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


“With this year’s program, we once again are honored to recognize chefs and foodservice leaders who continue to highlight fresh produce on their menus during these extraordinary times,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh President & CEO. “We are proud to recognize those chefs who are committed to making produce the centerpiece of the meal and continually serving customers in new and creative ways.”


Winning chefs and foodservice professionals will be recognized in nine categories including Business in Industry, Casual & Family Dining Restaurants, Colleges & Universities, Fine Dining Restaurants, Hospitals & Healthcare, Hotels & Resorts, K-12 School Foodservice, Quick Service Restaurants and Supermarkets & Retail Operators.


Winners will be selected by United Fresh and will be recognized at United Fresh 2021 Convention & Expo, June 24-26, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA, at the event’s Retail-Foodservice Celebration. The nine winning chefs, along with a corporate executive, also receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to the event.


The 2020 winners in each category were:


  • 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, Katchka, 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
  • Supermarkets & Retail Operators: Chef Randy Weed, Vice President Culinary, Plum Market, Farmington Hills, MI


Nominations can be submitted before January 15, 2021 at For more information about the award program, contact Miriam Wolk, Vice President of Member Services, at or 202-303-3410.