NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As the 2015 FARE Leaders in Foodservice Award winners took the stage at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, a theme resonated across each of their stories: change.
“They epitomize the evolution of their given segments—and consumer culture as a whole—and how you must harness that change or be rendered irrelevant,” said Abbie Westra, CSP’s deputy group editor and moderator of the Leaders in Foodservice Awards panel.
This year’s Leaders in Foodservice Awards honorees were Delaware North, Michigan State University, Panera Bread and RaceTrac.
“I’m talking about Panera’s decision to eradicate artificial additives from its menu, and RaceTrac’s efforts to redefine the c-store as many know it today," Westra said. "Michigan State University is witnessing the changing social habits of today’s youth and strives to change with them, while still delivering a sense of connection and communication that may otherwise be lost. And Delaware North is an international company that manages to deliver a hyperlocal experience across the locations is serves.”
Attending FARE to accept the awards and participate in the panel discussion were Rick Abramson, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Delaware North, Buffalo, N.Y; Guy Procopio, director of culinary services at Michigan State University, Lansing, Mich.; Dan Kish, senior vice president of food at Panera Bread, St. Louis; and Robby Posener, vice president of merchandising, marketing and design for RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., Atlanta.
- RaceTrac. As evidenced in its video and Posener’s insights, changes are afoot at RaceTrac, with its new RT6K format that puts foodservice in the spotlight. In addition to its Swirl World frozen yogurt concept, it’s testing a Speedy Avocado made-to-order burrito, bowl and quesadilla concept, as well as freshly made pizzas.
- Panera Bread. Panera Bread took the spotlight this year at FARE and well beyond with its commitment to menu and ingredient transparency, including its recent pledge to remove all artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners and flavors by the end of 2016. It’s also at the forefront of technology, adopting news ways to deliver “frictionless” service to the customer through mobile ordering and more, without losing the human touch. All of this rests on a foundation of culinary quality and craveability.
- Michigan State University. MSU has made evolutionary strides to change the student experience on campus, recently completing seven major renovations. The results are dining halls featuring cutting-edge food concepts and state-of-the-art areas for students to eat and connect with one another. It has a strong local-sourcing program, a Clean Plates at State waste-reduction program, Eat at State food trucks and better-for-you educational initiatives.
- Delaware North. From sports foodservice to travel hospitality to national parks, Delaware North creates incredibly unique experiences for its guests. It has helped revolutionize foodservice at the country’s sports arenas, making the food as much of a destination as the game itself. It elevates airport eats, including the latest additions to LAX, and rightfully prioritizes sustainability at national parks.
The Leaders in Foodservice Awards began as a way to reflect the cross-segment education and networking that happens at FARE, to honor different types of operations and bring them together for a best-in-class panel discussion. Honorees balance culinary creativity with a greater business plan, exemplify the evolution of foodservice to meet changing consumer needs and are already seen as leaders within their respective segments. Honorees are chosen by FARE’s Advisory Council and editorial teams.
Special videos were revealed on each of the winning companies, followed by a panel discussion. The awards were sponsored by Tyson. Kristin Bird, vice president of sales and marketing for Tyson Convenience Foodservice, helped present the awards.
Next year’s FARE conference will be held June 20-22 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center.
Watch for more insight from the FARE Conference on CSPnet.com, and follow CSP’s coverage on Twitter at #FAREconference.