NRAEF honors industry leaders at Salute to Excellence Gala

NRAEF honors industry leaders at Salute to Excellence Gala

CHICAGO —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

That comment by Joseph K. Fassler, retired president and chief executive of Viad Food Service & Hospitality, who was honored with the 2008 Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award, summed up the theme of the National Restaurant Association [3] Educational Foundation’s Salute to Excellence Awards Gala. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Held at the Hilton Chicago during the NRA Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, the awards banquet capped off a daylong event in which nearly 200 top restaurant and foodservice students and 125 educators gathered with industry leaders during the Michael E. Hurst Student Forum, which was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Co., Ecolab Inc., The Employment Guide, Micros Inc. and Pearson Education. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Among the industry leaders was Fassler, who continues to consult for Phoenix-based Viad and its Glacier Park Inc. foodservice and hospitality subsidiary. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Fassler praised the NRA and the NRAEF for “making us what we are today,” and he urged operators in the audience to help ensure that today’s hospitality students have an opportunity for “a sound education, a safe and successful career path, and that they are rewarded for integrity and professionalism.” —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

A member of the NRA’s board of directors and past chairman, Fassler also sits on the NRAEF board and is a former chairman. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in hotel and restaurant administration. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Three industry veterans also were officially inducted into the NRAEF’s 2008 College of Diplomates during the event. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Inductee Herman Cain, chief executive of leadership consulting firm THE New Voice Inc., served as NRA president and chief executive for more than two years beginning in 1996. Noting that he recently battled cancer, Cain gave the students some examples of the advice he received as a young man. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

From a high school teacher: “You can be whatever you want to be. You might have to work a little harder, and you might have to work a little longer.” —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

From his mother: “Trust in God. And for those who don’t believe in God, get out of the way of those who do.” —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

From his father: “Don’t give up.” —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Inductee William Regas, chair emeritus of Regas Restaurants and co-founder of the Grady’s restaurant concept, also served as NRA president and chief executive from 1980 to 1981. He also is a past president of the Knoxville Tourist Bureau, the Knoxville Restaurant Association and the Tennessee Restaurant Association. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

After thanking his “team,” including his family and business colleagues, he told the students that there are three phases in life: learning, earning and returning. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

“You students are in the learning phase right now,” he said, but eventually they will get to the “returning” stage, and he urged them to find ways to give back to the country and their communities. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Inductee Christianne Ricchi, chef and owner of Ristorante i Ricchi in Washington, D.C., is an emeritus director on the NRA’s board and a past trustee of the NRAEF as well as past board chairman and emeritus director of the Distinguished Restaurants of North America. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Ricchi also was honored for her work raising money for the Riverview School, a secondary school for intellectually disabled adolescents in East Sandwich, Mass., on Cape Cod, where she helped establish the Jean Louis Palladin Scholarship Fund to help graduates attend culinary school. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

“I feel proud to work in an industry where people matter,” Ricchi said. “It’s about how many people we can help. In the end, that’s what matters most, and there is no industry that can do it better than ours.” —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

The 2008 Michael E. Hurst Lifetime Achievement in Excellence Award went to Raphael Kavanaugh, professor and head of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Purdue University. —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

Speeches, soirees highlight NRA confab [4] —“We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”