Gold Plate award goes to a noncommercial operator

Rafi Taherian, the head of foodservice operations for Yale University, was named the 2016 winner of the Gold Plate, an award recognizing the year’s outstanding foodservice executive.

Taherian, associate vice president of Yale Hospitality, has transformed Yale’s tradition-based foodservice programs since joining the university from Stanford University in 2008.

“I love this industry,” said Taherian. “Tonight this industry showed they love me back.”

He was chosen for one of the industry’s top honors, the equivalent of Operator of the Year, from among the nine foodservice executives who were adjudged the best within their respective channels. Those segment standouts, the winners of a Silver Plate, included:

  • Diane Imrie, University of Vermont Medical Center, healthcare feeding
  • Jeff Denton, Ponca City, Fla., public schools, elementary and secondary schools
  • Mike Barclay, Southern Foodservice Management, business and industry
  • Rick Abramson, Delaware North, specialty foodservice
  • Steve Carley, CEO of Red Robin, winner of the full-service restaurant category
  • Charlie Morrison, CEO of Wingstop, limited service
  • Thom Sehnert, founder-proprietor of Annie Gunn’s and Smokehouse Market, independent restaurants

Winners of the Gold and Silver Plate were chosen by a jury that included past winners and the editors of foodservice publications. The selection group included Peter Romeo, representing FoodService Director and Restaurant Business magazines.

The Silver Plate winners were recognized in a gala event that coincides with the National Restaurant Association’s annual convention in Chicago.

Taherian was named FoodService Director’s 2013 Foodservice Director of the Year.

The Silver and Gold Plate awards are presented by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources