Wolfgang Puck has won the Gold Plate Award from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association.
The prize is granted to one of eight Silver Plate winners who are nominated by IFMA members and industry leaders, and selected by a jury of foodservice experts, past winners and the national foodservice trade press. The jury votes on which of those winners to bestow the Gold Plate.
The awards, now in their 63rd year, honor operators who have contributed to the advancement of their segments and to the foodservice industry as a whole, according to IFMA.
Puck, a celebrity chef and restaurateur based in Los Angeles, has long been a force on the national dining scene.
A native of Austria, Puck arrived in the United States at the age of 24, and soon gained critical acclaim in the 1970s as chef of Ma Maison in West Hollywood, Calif. He went on to open Spago in Beverly Hills, where he introduced the city to open kitchens and fine-dining pizza, and spent years as the impresario of a star-studded restaurant scene. Meanwhile, at Chinois on Main, he broke new ground by incorporating the cuisines of LA’s Asian communities in a fine-dining setting.
He has gone on to open restaurants across the country, including fine-dining restaurants, steakhouses, a casual-dining chain and a fast-casual chain.
Puck also operates a catering arm and sells consumer products including cookware and frozen pizza.
He has won numerous national awards, including the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ MenuMasters Hall of Fame.
“It is indeed a great pleasure to be here and recognized,” Puck said in his acceptance speech. “I’m so proud, and to me the whole thing is like a dream.”
Puck had won the Silver Plate in the category of independent restaurants and multi-concept operators.
The other Silver Plate winners are:
• G. J. Hart, executive chairman and CEO of California Pizza Kitchen, in the full-service chain category
• Chris Newcomb, co-founder, president and CEO of Newk’s Eatery, in the limited-service chain category
• Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa Inc., in the retail and specialty foodservice category
• Patti Oliver, director of nutrition for UCLA Health, in the health care category
• Betti Wiggins, executive director of the Office of School Nutrition for Detroit Public Schools, in the category of elementary and secondary schools
• Jeff Metz, president and CEO of Metz Culinary Management, in the category of business & industry/foodservice management
• Ted Faulkner, director of dining services at Virginia Tech, in the colleges and universities category.
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