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Food Management Announces Best Concept Award Winners

Penton Media’s Food Management® magazine has announced the winners of its 2008 “Best Concepts” awards competition. The annual program recognizes exceptional achievement and innovation in key areas of noncommercial foodservice, as judged by the FM editorial staff.

Categories range from initiatives in new and renovated foodservice facility design to menu innovation, wellness initiatives, special event planning and convenience retailing. The awards will be featured in a special editorial section of the August issue of Food Management and will be presented at the magazine’s annual IDEAS Conference October 28-30 at the Red Rock Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas.

The top honor for “Best of Show” in 2008 was awarded to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and its director of dining and retail services, Ken Toong. The “Best of Show” award recognizes the premier dining program offered by the school and the efforts Toong and his team have made to develop a strong culinary culture there and to support similar initiatives in other schools across the country through the school’s annual “Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference.” Now in its 14th year, the conference has served to inspire a national culinary peer group of campus chefs and has become a premier networking, educational and competitive event for the campus dining community.

Individual category winners from the FM awards program are as follows:

Best of Show
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst: for overall excellence in a campus dining program and its retail and residential dining facilities and for the segment-wide contributions to culinary development achieved by the school’s annual “Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference.”

Best New Facility
Becton Dickinson & Company’s dining facility at its new corporate center: at the global headquarters complex in Franklin Lakes, NJ. The dining facility, operated by Flik, was designed as part of a broad effort to build community on the corporate campus. It serves to bring together employees from what were previously two separate buildings, encouraging collaboration and professional relationship-building.

Best Renovation
Purdue University’s Union Commons: a re-designed student union that is comprised of an underground urban streetscape. Overseen by Director of Dining Services Gary Goldberg, the complex includes six retail restaurants, a mix of self-created and licensed brands and an emphasis on fresh and organic ingredients.

Best Wellness Initiative
Nutrition Safari, developed by Whitsons: a K-12 school foodservice program developed by management company Whitsons that focuses on introducing students in the younger grades to the different food groups and their role in sound meal and nutritional choices. The program employs a portfolio of different animal cartoon figures instilled with kid-friendly personalities and simple but important nutritional messages and is now in place in over 100 elementary schools.

Best Customer Service Initiative
The Neighborhood Kitchens at Horizon House Continuing Care Retirement Center: a specialized program developed for residential senior dining that is designed to encourage meal consumption by aging residents were caloric intake is often a concern. Decentralized “kitchens” with dedicated diet aides who become familiar with specific residents and their diet preferences and needs are placed so individual residents can request favorite foods or obtain food at non-standard times if they miss a meal period.

Best Station/Unit Concept
MyZone, developed by Sodexo Campus Services at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: a specialized area in the school’s residential dining hall kitchen that serves students with significant food-related allergies and special diet needs. The area is self-contained and isolated from contamination; it offers a safe space for such students to obtain meals or have them made to order by a chef. They can then join their friends in the dining hall’s larger community space.

Best Special Event
Medieval Feast and Faire at Virginia Tech University: a highly impressive special event that stands out from those commonly offered in the higher education environment because of its ambitious details and the quality of its execution. The menu incorporated authentic ingredients from the medieval period; ambiance was enhanced by costumed servers, a fire-breathing dragon and “stone” passages; and the theme was enhanced by fortune tellers, jousts and period-based photo opportunities for students.

Best Management Company Concept
Amp Up With Breakfast, developed by ARAMARK’s Education division: a flexible program that can be customized to the different environments and service requirements of the more than 400 school districts in which the company operates. It menus more than 400 grab-and-go products that are USDA meal program compliant and can be matched to service models that range from portable carts and kiosks, service windows and classroom delivery options.

Best Menu
The sustainable dining program developed by Restaurant Associates for the Harvard Medical School: a program that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk, with locally procured products consistently incorporated into menus. Other parts of the program include compostable disposables and the scheduling of weekly farmers markets in the main cafés during the summer to encourage relationships with local growers and producers.

Food Management’s editors base their award decisions on a variety of factors, ranging from the impact of a given program, its effectiveness in achieving targeted results, the impact it may have on others in the field and the level of innovation it represents when considered in light of standard practices in a given noncommercial segment of the foodservice industry.

Nominations are solicited from the industry over the course of the preceding year and are also made by the editors.The winning concepts are the result of team efforts and team members are cited individually in the special Best Concepts editorial package that appears in the August issue of Food Management and is also posted online.

For more information on the Best Concepts awards program, contact John Lawn, editor-in-chief of the magazine at (216) 931-9620 or email [email protected]. For more information on the FM IDEAS Conference, contact Lauren Carroll, conference director, at (216) 931-9714, or email [email protected]. Online content from FM can be viewed at

Food Management, published by Penton Media, Inc., is the leading business publication for foodservice directors, managers, contract management executives and others in the non-commercial or “onsite” sector of the foodservice industry. Its readers oversee foodservice operations in colleges and universities, business dining, healthcare, K-12 schools, museums, sports and entertainment venues and similar segments.

Penton Media, Inc. is the largest independent business-to-business media company in the U.S., serving more than six million business professionals every month. The company's market-leading brands are focused on 30 industries and include 113 trade magazines, 145 Web sites, 150 industry trade shows and conferences, and more than 500 information data products. Headquartered in New York City, the privately held company is owned by MidOcean Partners and U.S. Equity Partners II, an investment fund sponsored by Wasserstein & Co., LP, and its co-investors. For additional information on the company and its businesses, visit


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