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Meet the 2019 MenuMasters award winners

Jeremiah Tower, Paul Kahan among awardees

A new line of French fries, major menu revamps, an on-trend burger and a seafood chain focused on sustainability all are being honored with MenuMasters Awards this year.

Presented by Nation’s Restaurant News and sponsored by Ventura Foods, the awards honor outstanding foodservice research and development. Winners have made innovations or created menu items that NRN’s editors have judged to have a significant impact on the industry.

Additionally, Chicago-based restaurateur Paul Kahan has been named Innovator of the Year and Jeremiah Tower, who helped start the California food revolution in the 1970s, is being inducted into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame.

NRN senior food & beverage editor Bret Thorn praised this year’s winners for their creativity.

“Dipping seasoned fries in queso might seem like it’s a no-brainer now that it’s been done, but the popularity of Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries is extraordinary. Culver’s highlighting of delicious, local ingredients helped underscore its strength a regional player. Seamore’s is showing similar brilliance with simplicity combined with a sustainability focus. Piada is paving the way for a new approach to fast-casual dining and Bonefish grill has pioneered a daypart that I think has great potential in casual dining.

“The Military Sealift Command’s approach, involving input from its crew members, shows an approach to more healthful dining that’s particularly appropriate for non-commercial segments with frequent, or constant, repeat customers.”

“As for Paul Kahan and Jeremiah Tower, their accomplishments speak for themselves, and I’m thrilled to be celebrating with them this May.”

The recipients will be celebrated at an invitation-only awards gala at the Drake Hotel in Chicago May 18.

“Today’s savvy consumers have high expectations for their dining experiences,” said Jim Goggin, senior vice president, national accounts and culinary, for Ventura Foods. “Every meal occasion should be memorable and prepared to push flavor boundaries to the next level. The 2019 MenuMasters winners deliver on those expectations and more. Ventura Foods is proud to honor these winners and we look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the annual MenuMasters Celebration.”

MenuMasters is an invitation only event for foodservice executives. Join Follow #MenuMasters on social media to join the excitement, and get more information at On the website you can also submit a form to Request an Invitation. You will receive notification of your invitation status by email within two business days. Only current restaurant and non-commercial operators will be considered for an invitation. 

May 14, 2019: This story has been updated with the correct number of MSC ships.

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