The big winners at FM’s Best Concept Awards—who received their awards in Las Vegas Wednesday night—relied less on Lady Luck and more on hard work and true innovation.
At the Best Concept Awards Cocktail Reception and Dinner, those picked by FM editors for their exceptional achievement in noncommercial foodservice were recognized with the kind of fanfare you can only find in America’s city that glitters.
Here’s hoping that what happens in Vegas—in the case of great ideas being shared—doesn’t stay in Vegas!
Winners dazzled in each of the following categories:
Best of Show: The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, for overall excellence in its campus dining program and for segment-wide contributions to culinary development.
Best New Facility: Becton Dickinson & Co., for its dining facility at its new corporate center in Franklin Lakes, NJ, which brings together employees from two different buildings.
Best Renovation: Purdue University, for Union Commons, a re-designed student union that boasts six retail restaurants, a mix of self-created and licensed brands, and fresh and organic ingredients, against the backdrop of an urban streetscape.
Best Wellness Initiative: Whitsons, for Nutrition Safari, a K-12 school foodservice program focusing on introducing younger students to the food groups with animal cartoon characters.
Best Customer Service Initiative: Horizon House Continuing Care Retirement Center, for The Neighborhood Kitchens, a program that helps seniors get their daily caloric intake with decentralized kitchens and diet aides who get to know seniors.
Best Station/Unit Concept: Sodexo Campus Services at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, for MyZone, an area in the school’s residential dining hall kitchen just for students with food-related allergies and special diet needs.
Best Special Event: Virginia Tech University, for Medieval Feast and Faire, a special event with ambitious details, like authentic ingredients, costumed servers, and a fire-breathing dragon.
Best Management Co. Concept: ARAMARK, for Amp Up With Breakfast, a flexible breakfast program that menus USDA-compliant grab-and-go products for 400-plus school districts.
Best Menu: Restaurant Associates, for the sustainable dining program for the Harvard Medical School, which incorporates locally procured products, compostable disposables and farmers markets.
Earlier in the day during FM Idea’s busy schedule, winners gave brief presentations on their award-winning initiatives so attendees could further share in the inspiration, and ideas could have the chance to “cross pollinate” across sectors, as John Lawn said in his introduction of the winners Wednesday afternoon.