There was a time when seeing someone in a crisp chef’s coat at an industry event was an anomaly. “Did they mix up the dates for the NRA Show with the NACS Show?” one might have thought. And more likely than not, that solitary showgoer in the chef’s whites was Keith Boston.

Boston received his culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., and spent time at full-service restaurant chains before coming over to the c-store industry. He spent eight years at Sheetz before joining Cumberland Farms as its head chef. The work Boston has done to help bring Cumberland Farms into the forefront of the c-store foodservice vanguard is reaching a fever pitch. Last year, Cumberland unveiled its new store prototype with a big focus on foodservice, including an expanded menu and ordering kiosks. And Boston oversees Cumberland Farms’ Culinary Center at what is now its Westborough, Mass., headquarters, producing pizza, sandwiches, roller-grill and bakery items for its stores.

Boston has an expectation for excellence that is modeled by Cumberland Farms’ CEO Ari Haseotes. During CSP’s 2017 Retail Leader of the Year award honoring Haseotes, Boston put it bluntly: “He’s the reason I get up in the morning. … I just want to be part of the best.”

Today, any c-store brand that’s serious about foodservice has poached a restaurant or hotel veteran tired of working late nights and weekends. And they have Boston to thank for helping shepherd in an era of heightened culinary aspirations, chef’s coat and all. 

40,000—Square footage of Cumberland Farms’ Culinary Center, which Boston oversees