MRM’s New & Notable: Inspiring Creativity, Bindi for Breakfast and the Who-Tel Bar

Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine’s New & Notable column features new products and services as well as restaurant, food-service and hospitality company news and events. 

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CORE Founders' Dinner

Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE)––a nonprofit granting support to children of food and beverage service employees navigating life-alternating circumstances—recently held its 4th Annual Founders’ Dinner at One World Observatory in New York City.

“We were honored to bring together more than 150 attendees to celebrate the outstanding support of our partners as we work to help families of restaurant employees during times of crisis,” said CORE Executive Director Linda Eaves. “CORE is fortunate to have so many incredible champions who are passionate about our cause.”
CORE’s board of directors, advisory council, COREporate donors, ambassadors and staff gathered to celebrate the work of the organization and recognize three special honorees.  

Chairman of the board Joe Smith was honored for his lifetime commitment to the organization. Smith has been a part of CORE since the organization’s formative stage has been an integral part in growing it into what it is today. He has served on the board of directors since 2006, becoming chair in 2013 and serving through this year. Smith is senior vice president of sales for Monin Gourmet Syrups, which he brought on as one of CORE’s sponsors.

Joe Smith

Lush Life Productions was recognized for its outstanding support of CORE, which included raising over $45,000 since 2017, connecting CORE to four recipient families and referring eight volunteer ambassadors. The heart of the agency is ensuring bartenders have the tools they need to progress and develop. When Lush Life isn't hosting bartender-driven events, they are working with spirits suppliers to identify trends, develop programming and more.

Lush Life Productions

Kyle McElfresh was named ambassador of the year. Since becoming involved with CORE in spring 2018, McElfresh immediately stepped up and organized several successful fundraising opportunities and creative initiatives for elevating CORE’s mission. He even enlisted his employer Sawyer, a Los Angeles restaurant, to become involved with the nonprofit.

Kyle McElfresh

Get Your Grinch On

For those already tiring of Christmas cheer, W Austin’s offering up the chance to highlight your inner grinch with its Who-Tel Bar. The Grinchmas themed take-over will transform the hotel’s Secret Bar into a scene right out of Dr. Seuss’s Whoville, with a “W-centric” spin. The Who-Tel Bar will be open to the public for most nights until December 28

who tel

“I know just what to do,” said the Grinch. He continued, “I’ll make a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat. What Grinchy trick, with this coat and this hat, I’ll look just like St. Nick.” 

The Secret Bar, taking a page of Grinch’s book, too transformed. The infamous little red lounge in the heart of the Living Room Bar, is adorned in Suess-tastical décor. Beyond the look of the space, guests can also expect a bevy of themed libations, food, and entertainment starting at 5pm nightly. From 10pm-midnight each night, guests just might be in for a treat such as complimentary sweets such as Who-rros (churros) and Max’s Reindeer cocoa from the Grinch himself.

Whotel Grinch Nog

Some of the Who-tails available from the Who-tel Bar include:  Grinch Nog made with Courvoisier VSOP, house made nitro eggnog and matcha powder; Who-tini made with Ketel Orange & Peach Blossom Vodka, prickly pear, Jumex Plum Nectar, lemon juice and agave; Mount Crumpit, a mound of shaved ice covered in Bulliet Bourbon and candy cane syrup; as well as the adult hot chocolate, Max’s Reindeer Cocoa.

Reindeer Coco

Out of the Kitchen

The St. Regis Atlanta hosted the second annual Out of the Kitchen dining event. Featuring 20 prominent regional Chefs, the event’s proceeds will benefit CURE Childhood Cancer, a local nonprofit dedicated to funding pediatric cancer research and providing meaningful support to children and families facing a cancer diagnosis. Steak Shapiro, CEO and founder of Bread N Butter productions and host of Atlanta Eats,  served as the master of ceremonies for the unconventional, high energy dining event.


“After last year’s incredible outcome, we are elated to be included in one of Atlanta’s most impressive and charitable culinary events,” said Shapiro. “Having some of the region’s most talented chefs in one room, combined with making a significant contribution to an incredible cause with CURE, makes the event truly one-of-a-kind.”

Teaming up with culinary co-chairs Chef Jordan Barnett of The St. Regis Atlanta and Chef Philippe Haddad of Cape Dutch, The St. Regis Atlanta will donate 100 percent of the event proceeds to CURE Childhood Cancer. Last year, the inaugural event raised a notable $226,000 for the cause. 

“Out of the Kitchen is an exciting, experiential way to raise much needed funds for childhood cancer research,” said CURE’s Executive Director Kristin Connor. “We are proud to partner with The St. Regis Atlanta for a second year, and thrilled for the support and awareness that Out of The Kitchen brings to help in our mission to fund targeted research and support families.”

The gastronomic event hosted 240 guests in an intimate setting, as 20 carefully-selected top chefs create a personalized and unforgettable three-course meal tableside for 12 guests. Attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy the specialized cuisine, as well as interact personally with the tastemakers while enjoying live entertainment. Additionally, guests can mix and mingle with some of Atlanta’s most influential thought leaders and businesspeople as fellow attendees. The evening commences with a champagne reception and an elaborate dessert reception presented by Pastry Chef Daniela Lea of The St. Regis Atlanta.

Returning chefs from 2017 include: Philippe Haddad (Cape Dutch), Fuyuhiko Ito (Umi), Pano Karatassos (Kyma), Chris Grossman (Atlas at The St. Regis Atlanta), Cyrille Holota (Le Bilboquet), Deedee Niyomkul (Chaiyo), Piero Premoli (Pricci), Jaime Adams (Il Giallo Osteria & Bar) and Joe Schafer (Atlanta Hawks). Bringing a fresh twist on the event, new participating chefs include: Reinaldo Santosa (The St. Regis Atlanta), Gerry Klaskala (Aria), Frederic Morineau (The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman), Xavier Salomon (Montage Cabo), Julio Acosta (Oyamel), Hugh Acheson (Empire State South), Gerry Garvin (Food Network), Peter Kaiser (Kaiser’s Chophouse), Ai Nakamura (Sear at The Marriot Marquis, Atlanta), and Jiyeon Lee (Heirloom Market BBQ).

“The St. Regis, as a brand, proactively seeks innovative ways to push the boundaries of the industry, and is dedicated to supporting organizations that make a valuable difference. The Out of the Kitchen event brings this visionary approach to life, with a commitment to raising monetary proceeds and bring awareness for curing childhood cancer,” said Julia McKelvey, The St. Regis Atlanta’s director of catering and event management. “We very much value the relationship we have built with CURE over the years and are incredibly proud to be working with them for Out of the Kitchen.”

Metro Diner Raises Funds for NPCF

Metro Diner, known for serious diner food, teamed up with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research to eliminate childhood cancer through research focused on fast-tracking less toxic, more targeted treatments by partnering with 24 leading hospitals nationwide. The six-week round-up fundraising campaign, which took place at its 60 diners nationwide, raised $43,215 over the six weeks.

CaptionLeft to right – Kelly McGraw (Director of Development, NPCF), Al Silva (Metro Diner Chief Legal Officer and NPCF Board Member), David Frazer (CEO, NPCF), Crafton Bryant (Director of Marketing, Metro Diner) and Aimee Helms (Metro Diner Managing Partner – South Tampa).

Known for serving serious diner food from an extensive menu of traditional diner dishes, Metro Diner is dedicated to the communities they serve. Metro Diner was also NPCF’s first national restaurant partner. When Metro Diner guests paid for their meals, they were given an opportunity to round-up their check to the nearest dollar, in increments of $1, $2 and $5, or provide a custom amount.

The $43,215+ donation to NPCF will assist with The Sunshine Project, is innovative collaboration with one goal: to bring together the nation’s top doctors and researchers to fast-track less toxic, more targeted treatments and increase the survival rate for children battling cancer.

Citi Urbanspace Challenge Winner

Citi and Urbanspace announced Sonya Samuel as the winner of the Citi Urbanspace Challenge, a competition designed to help discover culinary entrepreneurs who have the potential to be the tastemakers of tomorrow and provide them with a platform to develop their small businesses, raise their profiles and connect with the New York food scene. As the winner, Samuel will be awarded a custom branded booth for her signature Caribbean food concept, Bacchanal Sauce, at Urbanspace at 570 Lex for three months beginning January 2019, courtesy of Citi.

"I'm honored to have participated with the other chefs in this incredible competition and am beyond excited and proud to be bringing a fiery taste of the Caribbean to Urbanspace at 570 Lex,” said Chef Sonya Samuel.

A call for entries for culinary entrepreneurs was held in July and out of dozens of entries, three finalists were chosen: Samuel of Bacchanal Sauce, Tristan Chin-Fatt of Destination Dumplings and Jumoke Jackson of Soul-full Sandwiches. With funding from Citi, the three finalists were given the opportunity to operate their own booth at the Urbanspace Fall pop-up markets.

“At Citi, we’re always looking for new opportunities to help support the growth of small local businesses, which is why we became the first ever partner of Urbanspace,” said Tina Davis, Citi Managing Director, Head of Global Sponsorships. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to help these culinary entrepreneurs gain exposure and name recognition among consumers and congratulate all of the talented finalists.”

The Citi Urbanspace Challenge winner was determined by a public vote hosted on Urbanspace’s website, a panel of expert judges and Urbanspace’s culinary team of directors.

“For the inaugural launch of the Citi Urbanspace Challenge, we were excited to see so many culinary entrepreneurs with a dream. Seeing the program grow from all of the online submissions, to the three very different finalists competing in our pop-up markets with thousands of public votes, was an energizing experience. Choosing Sonya Samuel’s concept, Bacchanal Sauce, did not come easy with two fierce competitors but her food speaks for itself. We’re excited to welcome Sonya to Urbanspace at 570 Lex and bring a new Caribbean menu option to our food hall,” said Eldon Scott, President of Urbanspace.

Bacchanal Sauce, which consists of Habanero and Scotch Bonnet peppers, pineapple, guava, cinnamon and allspice, is served by Samuel over an assortment of Caribbean staples – including fried fish cakes, Escovitch fish tacos and sweet tamales. Go try this hot, island-inspired concept at Urbanspace at 570 Lex starting in January 2019.

Newk's Cares

Celebrating its fifth year fighting for women battling ovarian cancer, Newk's Cares – the ovarian cancer awareness movement spearheaded by Newk's Eatery – raised over $258,000 for research of the disease. Newk's is passionate about its philanthropy, with a goal to improve the rate of early diagnosis by promoting early detection through symptom awareness and funding research – more than $970,000 for Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.

During the month of September, Newk's Eatery's iconic collectible cups turned teal, the color of Ovarian Cancer Awareness. Guests were able to donate in support of ovarian cancer research and education both in-store and through online ordering, as well as through the annual Ovarian Cycle® Jackson spin celebration held in its home base of Jackson, Miss. The event had an incredible response, recruiting more than 170 riders who joined in the fight. This past August, Newk's Cares also organized a Lunch & Learn event in Jackson, Miss. in partnership with St. Dominic Hospital to raise awareness and support of ovarian cancer prevention and treatment. Newk's restaurants also launched a limited time Thai Chicken Soup available through March 2019, which includes numerous cancer-fighting ingredients such as mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic and turmeric, and is safe for those undergoing cancer treatment.

Along with Newk's Cares' seasonal efforts, Newk's has made a commitment to prioritize awareness of ovarian cancer in its 125 locations year-round. The restaurant has permanently replaced traditional red straws with teal straws, and donates 10 cents from every Newk's Cares water bottle sold to OCRA. 

All restaurant locations also share the story of Co-founder Lori Newcomb, wife of Newk's Eatery CEO Chris Newcomb, and her diagnosis, including symptoms that easily go undetected to aid in the mission to raise critical awareness.

"After little to no warning signs, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer in 2013," said Lori Newcomb. "Time had passed, and it took until I knew something was drastically wrong to listen to my body. Early warning signs are often missed or thought to be normal aches. I want women everywhere to be aware of the symptoms, so if they are having any warning signs, they will go to the doctor and take care of their bodies right away, since early detection and treatment increases the survival rate to more than 92 percent."

The diagnosis inspired Lori and Chris to establish Newk's Cares in 2014 as a way of giving back to an important cause that has personally impacted the Newk's family. Newk's Cares has since grown from a kitchen table idea to a national campaign in partnership with OCRA. Despite the 200,000 women currently living with ovarian cancer in the U.S., it receives among the least financial support of any form of gynecological or breast cancer. There is more work to be done, and with support from the community, Newk's Cares is confident every woman can be given a fighting chance. 

"We're proud to continue to use our platform through Newk's Cares to fund the work of leading ovarian cancer researchers, and bring more light to this disease," said Chris Newcomb. "We have a mission to educate women everywhere about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, and to start a conversation that has life-saving potential."

Inspiring Culinary Creativity

Schwan’s Chef Collective hosted its  K-12 Kitchen Collaborative from Deember 3-6 in Houston, top photo. Since 2016, Schwan’s Company has worked to inspire culinary creativity with K-12 schools through chef-led events. Previous K-12 events were held in Wayzata, Minnesota, in 2016 and Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2017. This year, the culinary team will join the Houston Independent School District (HISD), aiming to inspire new school lunch recipes.

The event brought together Schwan’s Chef Collective chefs including Food Network celebrity chefs Jet Tila and Todd Erickson and Top Chef contestants Adrienne Wright and Stephanie Cmar. The star-studded team, along with Schwan’s own culinary experts, will be working with 12 HISD chefs and students in schools from across the district to create delicious, healthy and exciting new recipes.

With the goal of sparking dialogue, engagement and understanding among students, parents and chefs about what really goes into creating a school meal, this year’s event will feature even more student involvement. Chefs will engage with students in their culinary and garden classrooms, offering an opportunity for the students to show off their knowledge and for the chefs to share their passion for cooking along with some culinary insights. The event will be capped off with a fun mystery ingredient cook-off competition to be held on Thursday, Dec. 6, with students deciding which team created the perfect school meal.

“We are excited to bring these Kitchen Collaborative events to school districts across the country,” said Stacey Fowler Meittunen, Schwan’s Company’s senior vice president of product innovation and development. “Our partnership with these renowned chefs brings an elevated level of culinary expertise to address the needs of school foodservice operators while creating excitement among the students about what they eat.”

As the seventh-largest school district in the United States, HISD has a diverse student population, many of whom are economically disadvantaged. HISD serves up to three meals per student per day, totaling 269,000 meals a day. Through the Community Eligibility Provision and new to the 2018-19 school year, the district now offers free breakfast and lunch to all students, with some schools offering free dinner as well.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Schwan’s Chef Collective to our schools,” said Betti Wiggins, HISD’s officer of Nutrition Services. “Between the collaboration amongst our staff, students and the chefs, the Schwan’s Chef Collective is helping us spread the ‘good food’ message we’re trying to communicate.”


Hooters raised $615,000 this October by asking America to #GiveAHoot in the fight against breast cancer during its month-long fundraising campaign in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—adding up to a total amount of more than $5.9 million raised. The funds, raised with tremendous support from Hooters restaurants and guests from around the world, were presented to the V Foundation during the 2018 Men’s Jimmy V Basketball Classic Tuesday, December 4  at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The 2018 Give A Hoot campaign directly benefits the V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading cancer research funding organizations, as well as other local beneficiaries through the Kelly Jo Dowd Breast Cancer Research Fund. Part of the Hooters Community Endowment Fund (HOO.C.E.F.), the Kelly Jo Dowd Breast Cancer Research Fund was established in honor of the late Kelly Jo Dowd, an original Hooters Girl and the 1995 Hooters Calendar Cover Girl.

With an estimated 250,000 females expected to be affected by breast cancer in the U.S. this year, the statistics are too high to be ignored. And, with more than 17,000 Hooters Girls around the globe and a workforce made up of 70 percent women, Hooters is committed to raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

The overall top-performing Hooters franchise ownership groups were LAGS, with restaurants in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, GGW group, with locations in Louisiana and Restaurants of America, with restaurants in Arizona and Colorado.

During this year’s fundraising campaign, Hooters guests were invited to contribute to the cause by grabbing a pink bracelet, enjoying one of several ‘pink drinks’ with proceeds benefiting the campaign, or pinking up their check during a visit to Hooters. For every 2019 Hooters Calendar purchased, Hooters donates $1 toward the Give A Hoot fundraising effort.

Inspired by Hooters very own Kelly Jo Dowd, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2007, Hooters Girls have now raised more than $5.9 million over the years to support breast cancer research, much of it through the grant in Kelly Jo’s name to the V Foundation. These grants have helped fund a range of cancer research from therapeutic discovery to personalized cancer treatment to identifying stage-specific metastasis characteristics. The annual fundraising effort honors Kelly Jo and furthers her mission to educate all women, especially her extended family consisting of some 300,000 current and former Hooters Girls, about the importance of early detection and prevention. Throughout her struggle, Kelly Jo was courageous and selfless, becoming an advocate for early detection, education and fundraising.

Lightspeed Adds to Board

Lightspeed appointed Patrick Pichette, Marie-Josée Lamothe, Rob Williams and Paul McFeeters to its board. The additions come in the midst of pivotal growth for the company, and usher in diverse perspectives and advisors as the company continues its global expansion. 

“We’re thrilled to welcome Patrick, Marie-Josée, Rob and Paul, and their vast sets of expertise to Lightspeed’s board of directors," says Dax Dasilva, Founder and CEO of Lightspeed. “Following our funding announcement in October 2017, we set out to diversify our board with executives who have the specific skill sets that will help guide us forward as we make ambitious plans for the future.”

Patrick Pichette is formerly the Chief Financial Officer of Google and brings to Lightspeed a wealth of experience building and scaling global companies. Pichette currently holds the role of General Partner at iNovia Captial.

Marie-Josée Lamothe joins Lightspeed’s board from Google Canada where she served as Managing Director of Consumer Products, Government and Entertainment and also Managing Director of Quebec. Lamothe is the Founder and President of Tandem International, an advisory firm specialized in omnichannel retailing and branding. She is also Professor of Practice at McGill University's Bensadoun School of Retail Management and is an active member with various associations in the field.

Rob Williams has over 20 years in eCommerce and retail experience working in leadership positions for both high-end specialty and big-box retail.  Williams comes to Lightspeed from Amazon, where he led Tier 1 Vendor relationships globally. In his decade at Amazon, Rob was promoted and rotated to five leadership positions on both the Seller and Retail teams. He currently consults worldwide on Disruptive Innovation and eCommerce and is a notable speaker on those topics.=

Paul McFeeters brings Lightspeed a proven track record of leading internationally-recognized companies. Formerly the Chief Financial Officer of OpenText, McFeeters joins the board with more than 30 years of experience in financial services and the software industry. He has served on several boards throughout his career including Hootsuite, Constellation Software and Blueprint Software Systems.

Hospitality Winners

Hospitality professionals from across the state were honored at the Washington Hospitality Convention Sunday at the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington.

Tyler Winters, general manager of Farelli's Pizza in Lacey, WA, won for general manager of the year for his achievements in caring for his community as a whole. He creates an environment where the guests and the employees are deeply connected.

"An example was when a recent regular finally lost his battle with cancer, the entire staff of the store attended the funeral ceremony and he called the other Farrelli's stores for support to cover all of those shifts for the day," said Clayton Krueger, director of marketing and communications for Farelli's Pizza in Winters' nomination.

Winters has been known to send pizzas to local fire stations and to the teachers of Tumwater during their recent strike.

"Our industry connects communities like no other," said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association. "Hospitality is at the center of community development and these awards honor the rock stars in Washington who are our best role models. These businesses exemplify how we are woven into the fabric of the daily lives of our guests and team members and show that working together, we help our communities succeed."

Executive Chef Derek Simcik of Thomson Seattle took home the Innovation Award for his efforts in lifting up his kitchen staff to highlight their talents during events he calls, "Up and Coming."

"One of the chefs on his team gets to create a menu and be in the spotlight for the evening with our Executive Chef Derek acting at the Sous Chef for the night," said Leah Levar, area director of people services at Thompson Hotels in Simcik's nomination. "We think this is a brilliant way to showcase the talent in the kitchen and get them used to being in the spotlight – such a humble move."

Nominations for the awards were submitted by supervisors, HR directors and peers.

The 2018 categories and winners are:


  • Emerging Hospitality Leader of the Year: Amanda Landers, Pan Pacific Hotel, Seattle
  • Innovation Award: Derek Simcik, Thompson Seattle 
  • Paving the Way Award: Kim Straight, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Sumner 
  • Employee of the Year: Meg Spiegelberg, Embassy Suites Pioneer Square, Seattle
  • General Manager of the Year: Scott Snofsky, Hilton Garden Inn, Bellevue 


  • Employee of the Year: DelRae Evans-McLain, Wild Ginger, Seattle 
  • General Manager of the Year: Tyler Winters, Farrelli's Pizza, Lacey 

Fleming's Partners with Junior Leagues

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is partnering with The Association of Junior Leagues International to help strengthen the impact of local Junior League Chapters throughout the country.  Known worldwide as The Junior League, the 120-year-old international women's empowerment and community service organization will benefit from a variety of programs at Fleming's restaurants across the country.  

As part of the new alliance, Fleming's and The Junior League will align their resources to drive positive change and strengthen communities throughout the United States. The upscale steakhouse will work with The Junior League in the 70 communities where they share a footprint. 

"The foundation of the culture at Fleming's is built on supporting our communities," said Beth Scott, President of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. "We are thrilled to partner with the dedicated volunteers at The Junior League as we continue our proud tradition of offering our quality service and elevated experience to benefit important causes."

To kick off the partnership, Fleming's hosted a Whiskey & Wine benefit dinner that featured paired handcrafted cocktails, straight pours, and whiskey barrel-aged wine alongside a decadent five-course Chef's dinner. Fleming's donated $20 from every dinner sold that evening – raising $25,000 – to benefit The Association of Junior Leagues International. 

"For more than a century, The Junior League has empowered women to lead. On our journey, we've tackled some of society's most intractable problems alongside influential, passionate community partners, government officials and change-makers who have been resolute in working to find solutions, to find a way forward," said Susan Danish, CEO/Executive Director of The Association of Junior Leagues International. "We are grateful to Fleming's for recognizing the importance of this work and joining us in our efforts to strengthen communities near and far.

SCA Awards

Five passionate coffee professionals were recently selected to receivethe Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) new Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD)Scholarship—made possible by the generous support of S&D Coffee & Tea. The scholarship is aimed at increasing leadership diversity within the global coffee community by allowing access to professional development resources to people from underrepresented or marginalized communities.



“We are proud to work with SCA to develop a program that provides members of the coffee community that typically don’t have access, with the tools they need to further their career,” said Helen Griffith, VP, Marketing, S&D Coffee & Tea. “These scholars have the opportunity to create real change in the industry and we want to make sure they get off to an excellent start.”


To kick off the program, scholars were invited to S&D Coffee & Tea headquarters in Concord, NC for a 2-day immersion that included an in-depth overview of S&D and tour of the roasting and manufacturing facilities. The scholars had the opportunity to discuss their professional development goals, take part in coffee and tea cupping, a Charlotte coffee crawl, as well as one-on-one time with select members of S&D’s management team.


Throughout the program, scholars will focus on their education and career goals, personal and professional development opportunities and team building. The group will be fulfilling a 2-year journey together, attending an SCA origin trip, a community/professional event and completing their choice of a Coffee Skills Program (CSP) course or AST Certification. Each scholar is paired with an instructor to complete their CSP, a mentor to support their goals and a SCA senior staff member.


“We are delighted to be working with S&D on this program,” said SCA Executive Director Ric Rhinehart. “LEAD was born out of the recognition that we as an industry have a lot of work to do to diversify our leadership at every point in the value chain. As a nonprofit organization, our interest is to increase access for marginalized communities to the resources required to do that. We’re honored to have the support of partners like S&D Coffee & Tea, who help make this program a reality.”


LEAD was developed to open doors to underrepresented people in the coffee community. The scholarship was first announced at the Re:co Symposium in April 2018. SCA received over 60 applications from individuals all over the world, representing a wide range of coffee professions, including baristas, café managers, graduate and PhD students and more.  


In the end, SCA narrowed it down to five recipients to receive the 2-year program. The 2018-2020 LEAD Scholars are Karla Ly Quinones, Lisette Barbera, Smayah Uwajeneza, Stephanie Alcala, and Taya Brown. Learn more about each of the LEAD scholars and follow their unique journey on the S&D Coffee & Tea blog.


Creating Visual Flavor

When your brand is all about flavor and your company slogan suggests you “Bring the Joy of Flavor to Life,” you best display a bit of this “spice” when visitors enter your new $170 million headquarters. Global spice manufacturer McCormick & Company recently turned that task over to NanoLumens,creators of interactive LED visualization solutions, a company that knows all about adding some visual flavor to open spaces.

McCormick Company recently opened their new headquarters in Hunt Valley, MD and as their CEO Lawrence Kurzis stated, “We’ve moved from our very old, stuffy offices, to a sleek, modern structure that shows the kind of innovation the company is proud of.” 

The company markets and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other flavorful products to the entire food industry – retail outlets, food manufacturers and foodservice businesses. The goal with this NanoLumens installation was to add an impactful branding message in the lobby of the new headquarters.

“McCormick Company wanted something in their lobby that would have an immediate impact and really leave a positive branding impression,” said NanoLumens Regional Sales Director, Northeast Dana Michaelis. “We knew a 4.7mm Performance Series™ LED display would provide the perfect solution.”

The challenge for the integrator Whitlock was installing a display that would span four of the building’s six floors and be visible as soon as visitors walked into the headquarters. The site’s open floor plan features an atrium-style lobby design with an abundance of natural light shining through, with each floor visible as soon as you enter the building. The NanoLumens display is 45’ x 18’ and stretches from the second floor all the way up to the fifth floor.

“With all the ambient light inside the lobby, McCormick & Company needed a display solution that could handle a very bright area and our LED technology does that especially well,” Michaelis said. “The fact all Performance Series displays are also ultra-thin and lightweight and can be installed very quickly, requiring very little lead time, was also a major factor for choosing NanoLumens.”

Michaelis added that McCormick & Company also wanted this installation to show that this 129-year-old company continues to embrace state-of-the-art technology and innovation.

“As both the public and McCormick & Company business associates enter the new headquarters they are greeted with this spectacular display that reinforces the McCormick corporate message,” he said. “Despite already being a very successful 129-year-old company they are constantly looking to innovate.”

That message, along with conveying the company’s leadership position in the spices, seasoning mixes, and condiments markets, also includes a continuing focus on advancing safeguards centered on the long-term vitality of the planet.

The entire building is designed to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified and reflects McCormick's commitment to sustainability and incorporates locally-sourced, reclaimed wood and an indoor green roof with native Maryland plantings. All the furniture in the building is non-toxic, chemical-free, and largely comprised of recycled material, according to the company.

McCormick & Company also seeks to promote composting throughout the building by only providing compostable serve ware to employees and implementing an advanced waste management system.

And NanoLumens has also responded to this demand for more sustainable goods as their LED displays offer environmental benefits such as reduced power consumption, up to 50% reuse of reclaimed materials from previously manufactured goods and easy recycling due to a nearly completely recyclable product.

Chef Freeland JW Marriott Chicago

 JW Marriott Chicago appointed Lori Freeland as Sous Chef. She will work in tandem with Executive Chef Michael Reich to oversee the success of daily kitchen operations.  Freeland will also supervise all kitchen areas to ensure the JW Marriott level of excellence is continued to be met and exceeded.   

Bringing over 13 years of experience, Freeland was formerly the Sous Chef of Sheraton Overland Park Hotel & Convention Center where she oversaw the culinary programs on property including the restaurant, lounge, in-room dining, Club Lounge, and patio. Freeland’s experience in high volume production led her to the expansive JW Marriott Chicago with more than 600 guestrooms, 44,000 square feet of event space, as well as The Lobby Lounge and Executive Lounge. 

Chef Freeland looks forward to bringing her Midwestern flare for cooking to the hotel’s various menu offerings in addition to exploring her personal areas of culinary talent including French, Italian, German, American, and vegetarian.

“We are excited for Chef Lori to bring her passion for responsibly sourced ingredients to the hotel’s culinary program; furthering the hotel’s efforts to source the highest quality food from the best local farmers each season,” says Executive Chef Michael Reich.

Freeland is from Kansas City, Missouri and received her degree in Culinary Arts from Metropolitan Community College Blue River. In her spare time, she enjoys a day at the Kansas City Royals ballpark, checking out new restaurants and cuisines in town, or cracking open a Stephen King novel.  

Torres Named Executive Pastry Chef at LondonHouse Chicago

 LondonHouse Chicago appointed Samantha Santiago Torres as Executive Pastry Chef. Santiago Torres began her culinary career by studying at the prestigious Camilo José Cela University in Madrid, Spain with a Ferrán Adriá Chair Professorship. From there, she developed her expertise with international experiences in the pastry world. Heading to the U.K., she worked at restaurants and hotels in London and Edinburgh, such as Roka, before taking an internship position at the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado. While there, she prepared pastries for the World Ski Championship for which the hotel hosted the Swiss and German teams. 

After returning to London briefly, Santiago Torres moved on to teach intern chefs and pastry cooks with Compass Group in Denver, Colorado. Santiago Torres is now excited to add Chicago to her long list of places she has called home.  

“We’re thrilled for Chef Santiago Torres to bring her extensive global experience to LondonHouse,” says LondonHouse Chicago Director of Food and Beverage John Belter. “We look forward to seeing the creative confections and imaginative presentations she will bring to the hotel property.”   

Santiago Torres works alongside Executive Chef Jacob Verstegen to create reimagined pastries for guests to savor at two LondonHouse establishments, LH Rooftop and Bridges. As Chef Verstegen also has an international culinary background, having cooked at restaurants in Spain and Brazil, he will work with Santiago Torres to craft original, diverse dishes.

Master-Bilt Adds Fuller

Frank Fuller  has assumed the role of Vice President of Sales and Customer Care for Master-Bilt,® reporting directly to Kevin Fink, President of Standex Refrigerated Solutions Group which is comprised of Master-Bilt and Nor-Lake.

As Vice President of Sales and Customer Care, Fuller will develop and execute a commercial strategy to achieve not only sales growth but to expand new business opportunities as well.  Providing leadership and direction to the entire sales function, Fuller will work closely with other leaders driving group level initiatives.

“Frank will be instrumental in managing our resources to achieve customer intimacy”, said Fink.  “His valuable years of experience in the industry will be critical in the continued adoption of our sales funnel management and key account planning.”

Fuller has been in the food equipment industry for over 20 years, working with Electro Freeze, Oliver Packaging & Equipment Company and Hobart.   His many years in the industry allows Fuller to bring many assets to his new position at Master-Bilt.

SFA Honorees

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) has chosen its honorees for the 2019 Leadership Awards. This year's winners are:

  • Citzenship: Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli Foods, Oakland, CA – Curtis's vision led to her company using the leaves of moringa trees to improve the lives of women in West Africa
  • Vision: Patrick Mateer, Seal the Seasons, Chapel Hill, NC – Mateer founded the company to work with smaller farmers and make local food available year round 
  • Business Leadership: Miyoko Schinner, Miyoko's, Petaluma, CA – Schinner pioneered the plant-based cheese revolution with her use of technology

"We are proud of the great work being done across the specialty food industry. We continue to positively impact, not just the food system, but our communities and world as well," said Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association. "From farm to shelf, domestically to internationally, the three entrepreneurs we will honor are great examples of our organizational vision in action: 'Shaping the Future of Food.' We are excited to share their stories and recognize their achievements."

The awards will be presented during SFA's Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco at a special ceremony on Sunday, January 13, 5:00-6:00 pm. A reception will follow the awards ceremony.

Nominations were made by SFA members and influencers in the specialty food industry. Honorees were selected from a slate of 30 candidates. The Leadership Award judges were association member-peers serving on the SFA Recognition Committee. 

Additional information about the winners can be found here.

Bindi for Breakfast

Bindi Dessert launches its breakfast line – a collection of pastries, including traditional favorites like Cornetti to Bomboloni, all made following the same Italian methods using high quality ingredients.

Bindi Mini Cornetti

The Bindi breakfast collection branches out to fulfill a variety of desire through products that are rich in flavor, quality and texture with traditional items like Cornetti and the classic French Croissant, to a more health-conscious selection that includes Multigrain, Vegan, and Mini Croissants. Other breakfast options or brunch menu additions for those looking to serve something different can be found in the famous Bindi Bomboloni, Waffles or Conchiglie.

Bindi Waffle

The entire breakfast collection includes:

  • Croissants (Plain, Vegan, Chocolate Hazelnut, Savory, Multigrain)

  • Cornetti (Plain, Cream, Chocolate, Albicocca, Cereali e Arancia)

  • Bomboloni (Plain, Cream, Mini Cream, Chocolate Hazelnut)

    Bindi Bomboloni
  • Conchiglie (Panna Latte, Cioccolato)

  • Mini Treats (Mini Multigrain Croissant, Mini Pain au Chocolat, Mini Girella All Butter, Mini Croissant All Butter)

  • Waffle (Regular, Retail Pack)

  • Traditional Italian Cookies (Esse Mignon, Dama, Cantucci, Bacio di Dama, Chocolate Bacio di Dama, Sabbiosino,


CMA Increases Organic Line

Chicago Meat Authority has increased its organics offerings to include steak and beef. CMA has been certified by the Midwest Organic Services Association as a handler under the USDA National Organic Program. As a handler, CMA is required to have a program in place to ensure that organic products remain pure and are not cross-contacted with non-organic products or prohibited substances.

“We have expanded our certified organic program to include beef items such as premium steaks, roasts and grinds,” said Lisa Rabe, director of technical assurance at CMA. “We were previously certified for organic pork products and now are able to offer beef to our customers who want to offer a line of organic products. Our aim is to offer excellent options to meet all of our customers’ needs today and in the future, including clean labels, grass-fed and grass-finished options.”

As a certified handler, CMA stores organic raw material and finished products separately from non-organic products in keeping with the company’s rigorous quality control procedures. All procedures and processes are monitored and verified to ensure that all requirements are followed. 

CMA has been certified to produce organic beef, pork butts and picnics. Products are certified USDA organic when they are produced using exclusively organic methods containing only organic ingredients. The organic requirements include the collection of information on the history of every animal including the breed history, veterinary care and feed plus the animals must be raised on certified organic land that is not subject to most synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, sewage sludge or genetic engineering for at least three years and animals must have outdoor access.

Organic farms tend to be smaller than so-called factory farms and farmers and ranchers have to manage their herds for longer times before slaughter because they do not use synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics. While all of these factors add to the cost of each product produced, consumers have shown a willingness to pay a premium for food that is grown and produced according to the USDA National Organic Program.

Since 1990, MOSA says the organic food industry has grown by more than 20 percent per year. In 2014, organic sales reached $39 billion and represented 5% of all food sold in the United States. Americans increasingly are showing more of an awareness and interest in adding organic food to their diets. Approximately 70% buy organic food occasionally and nearly 25% buy some organic food every week.

Co-Chefs de Cuisine

Manoir Hovey, the  lakeside Relais & Châteaux resort in Quebec's Eastern Townships, has named Alexandre Vachon and Paul Roberts as co-chefs de cuisine, a first for the property. They come to Manoir Hovey with extensive fine dining experience that includes Michelin-starred restaurants and other Relais & Châteaux properties.  They will be taking over from the current chef de cuisine, Francis Wolf, who is moving on after 17 years to pursue other opportunities.

Chef Alexandre Vachon is French Canadian, born in Ottawa, and most recently was sous chef at Maison Boulud at the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal. Prior to that, he was at Lac Leamy's Le Baccara and Decca 77. Chef Paul Roberts was born in Staffordshire, England, and worked in a number of highly esteemed British and Canadian kitchens, including the Fat Duck, Sonora Resort, and Quebec's famous Cabane à Sucre au Pied de Cochon, as well as Manoir Hovey itself. Most recently, he was chef/owner of Chez Bouffe Café Bistro in Montreal.

"We are grateful to Francis for his creativity and contributions to Manoir Hovey and wish him well in the future," says Jason Stafford, Manoir Hovey's managing director. "We welcome Alexandre and Paul, who have excellent credentials and make a dynamic team that will continue to elevate Manoir Hovey's gastronomic tradition."

Notes Roberts: "Manoir Hovey holds a special place in my heart, having worked here about four years ago. I'm delighted to have this opportunity and excited to be working with Alex, a great talent." And as for Vachon, he says, "After traveling and exploring the world and different cultures and cuisines, I'm happy to be back 'home,' where I can share my passion with guests."

Distributor of the Year

 Global ice machine manufacturer, Ice-O-Matic said Norm’s Refrigeration & Ice Equipment has been named Distributor of the Year for 2018. 


Since 1957, Norm’s Refrigeration & Ice Equipment has provided California with excellence as a wholesale distributor of food service equipment and a service company. Norm’s has grown from a two-person service company to the leader in distribution and refrigeration service. Tim Devine, General Manager, adds over 30 years of sales and management experience. Norm’s has two locations: Anaheim, CA, with over 40,000 square feet of warehouse for equipment, and Hayward, CA, which opened in 2011 for distribution. 

“We are thrilled to be able to present this award to Norm’s,” stated Alex Tappé, VP of Sales and Marketing for Ice-O-Matic. “They are a leader in the industry and we look forward to continuing our long and successful partnership,” said Tappé. 

Retro Message Board

Oat Foundry debuted its smart Split Flap Display– a retro-designed, nostalgia-inspired message board for retailers, restaurants, hotels, and more, that can be controlled and automated through a unique web-based application. 


 “The Oat Foundry’s Split Flap plays into the desire to find non-digital and mechanical solutions that can perform the same tasks as digital displays,” Oat Foundry CEO and Co-Founder Mark D. Kuhn IV said. “We’re helping businesses to better engage with this growing customer base. People are tired of being bathed in the glow of TV’s. The Split Flap Display design runs against the grain of the LED and LCD norm, without sacrificing any of the 21st century functionality that businesses expect to be able to access when controlling their displays. It delivers powerful messages in a meaningful and creative way that is resonating with architects and designers for restaurants, retailers, hotels, and more.” 

Each Oat Foundry Split Flap Display is hand-built in Philadelphia and contains an array of individual modules with 50 unique character flaps. Its internal driving motor revolves each flap in a series of rotating animations that significantly advance on the original Split Flap Displays of the early 20th century. 

“When we build the display in our Philadelphia-based shop, the size, color, number of modules, fonts, and characters are entirely customized per customer, allowing businesses to truly emphasize their brand,” Oat Foundry Marketing Manager Jeff Nowak said, “but the old-school ‘clacking’ flap sound we all know and love remains the same.”

For message control, the display’s intuitive web-based application makes configuration simple. The display is connected to an interface that allows businesses to send one-time messages, or schedule recurring messages to occur automatically. 


For example, a bar manager can configure a happy hour menu to appear on the display starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m., running only Monday-Thursday of the week.

“Users can set it and forget it without needing to keep a device powered on,” Nowak said. “This solves a very common pain point experienced with today’s commercial displays.” 

What’s more, the display has the ability to pull data from sources in real time through customized API integrations and MQTT Protocol – meaning that in addition to scheduling custom messages, businesses can showcase information from a source in real-time, without their direct involvement. 

“The Split Flap Display we installed at Nolita Hall in San Diego pulls real-time data from a Flight Tracker API to show the origin and flight number of planes as they fly over the Italian inspired beer hall,” Nowak continued. “This is just one example of what’s possible. With the integration capabilities of Split Flap, we can bridge the gap that analog once faced.” 

Hotel Zoe Adds Lenar

Hotel Zoe named  Erika Lenar Director of Outlets Operation.  She brings close to three decades of expertise in the hospitality industry and will oversee all facets of the food and beverage program at Hotel Zoe including Pescatore, Hotel Zoe’s signature restaurant showcasing modern and inventive Italian fare.

“We are delighted to welcome Erika to the Hotel Zoe team to oversee operations for our food and beverage program,” said Area Director of Sales & Marketing at Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Amy Cacho.  “With her impressive background and successes, we are confident she will build upon the success of Hotel Zoe and elevate Pescatore’s visibility in our community and beyond.”

Lenar has held leadership positions in food and beverage operations for several recognized luxury boutique properties in the Bay Area and beyond, including San Diego, Aventura, Florida, Aspen,  Austin, and more.  Prior to joining Hotel Zoe, she was the Food and Beverage Manager at Hotel Adagio in San Francisco, part of Evolution Hospitality and the Marriott Autograph Collection.

Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Erika graduated from the Gundel Karoly Hospitality and Catering School before moving to Reno, NV, where she held her first management position at the Eldorado Hotel Resort Casino.  

Paris Site Furnishings Introduces Bridgeline

Paris Site Furnishings presents the Bridgeline series litter receptacles with contemporary styling and robust, vandal-resistant construction.  These 34-gallon containers feature a side opening door for easy servicing, and a side debris opening which naturally controls materials which can be deposited. 


Rust-proofed and powder-coated in a range of colors for an inherently clean look, Bridgeline litter receptacle provide years of trouble-free service even in the harshest of environments.  A contemporary look, and durable construction make these proven products ideal for interior or exterior applications within restaurants, hotels, motels, and other hospitality industry venues, as well as parks, streetscapes, green spaces, schools and universities, sports venues, transit facilities, retail and corporate settings, or wherever durable, stylish waste receptacles are desired.  

Globe Adds to Gas Hot Plate Line

Globe Food Equipment Company continues to expand their gas offering with the addition of three step-up models to their gas hot plate line. The two-tiered units are designed for large operations, such as high-volume restaurants, to increase production and versatility.  With the ability to hold and warm various items and the step-ups’ modularity, cookline space is maximized.

Featuring an extended cool-to-touch front edge, heavy-duty cast iron burner grates and 30,000 BTU cast iron burners with adjustable front-access pilots.  As with Globe’s current hot plate line, the step-up models feature 2, 4, and 6-burner units. All models ship set for natural gas with a liquid propane gas conversion kit and regulator included at no extra charge. 

Gourmet Salts

Nathaniel Reid of Nathaniel Reid Bakery introdiced a new product line of gourmet salts. The  pastry chef (recently-named Plate magazine’s Chefs to Watch in 2018, U.S. Pastry Competition Pastry Chef of the Year, Dessert Professional Magazine’s Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America, etc.) taps his culinary background for a more savory extension of the gourmet provisions offered at Nathaniel Reid Bakery, including his homemade jams, chocolates and candies. The salts will be available in three varieties for purchase at the bakery for $9 for a 2-ounce jar.


Chef Reid explains the reason for the new salts, “When I’m not at the bakery, I love to cook at home with my family. I wanted to expand our offering of gourmet, grab-and-go items with something savory so I developed these flavor profiles with the home cook in mind. To me, there isn't anything much better than grilled fish with olive and rosemary sea salt on top!”

CrunchWrapping Paper

Taco Bell Canada is taking part in this year's festive season in the best way they know how: with Nacho Cheese, seasoned beef, and all the other elements that make their iconic Triple Double Crunchwrap so delicious. Candy cane patterns? Jolly snowmen? Boring! Bring on the nacho cheese covered presents and make yours the most sought-after gift in your Secret Santa circle.


The CrunchWrapping Paper will be available for purchase on for $4.00 CAD until December 16.

"We're always looking for new ways to surprise our fans. The CrunchWrapping paper allows us to partake in the holiday season in a way that's authentic to who we are as a brand," says Veronica Castillo, head of Marketing at Taco Bell Canada. "Plus, we're giving our fans an opportunity to celebrate the return of the Triple Double Crunchwrap, a Taco Bell favourite, with family and friends in a fun and unexpected way."

Each CrunchWrapping paper set comes with five macro photo sheets of the Crunchwrap's tasty layers. This includes seasoned beef, nacho cheese sauce, crunchy tostada, the tortilla, and of course the veggies: lettuce, tomato and sour cream.