The dining program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, headed by Executive Director Ken Toong, will be honored as one of six winners of the annual Nation's Restaurant News MenuMasters Awards at a ceremony during the NRA Show in May. The MenuMaster Awards are sponsored by Ventura Foods, LLC, and honor outstanding menu development as well as excellence in foodservice research and development.
Besides UMass Dining, this year's MenuMasters winners include Old Chicago, Panda Express, Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, Shari's Restaurants and Subway Restaurants. In addition, during the ceremony to be held at the Drake Hotel in Downtown Chicago on May 21, famed chef Tom Colicchio will be inducted into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame while Panera Bread's Scott Davis will receive the Innovator Award.
UMass Dining won the award for its "Be Smart. Eat Smart. Live Smart" program, a broad-based initiative designed to deliver delicious food with healthy options. It features 11 steps to help customers embrace a healthy lifestyle, including eliminating trans fats, limiting sodium and sugar, offering protein from plant and fish sources, and providing more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Positive results include 98 percent meal plan retention and 8.65 out of 10 customer satisfaction ratings.
“The MenuMasters Awards are the industry’s most recognized and inspiring culinary awards program," says NRN Publisher Randall Friedman, who is also vice president of the Penton Restaurant Group, which includes Food Management. "It is a privilege for Nation’s Restaurant News to honor these outstanding culinarians. This year’s winners have had a significant impact on their restaurant segments and their creativity and innovative approach to menu development is admirable.”
“Despite challenging economic times, the restaurant industry has continued to deliver a steady diet of exciting and innovative menu specialties for consumers worldwide," adds Ventura Foods President/CEO Chris Furman. "Nowhere is this more evident than with our 2011 MenuMasters Award winners. Congratulations to these organizations and individuals for the vital role they play in enhancing the dining experience.”