Foodservice Recognition Program
USA Rice Federation Honors Chefs and Operators
USA Rice’s “Foodservice Recognition Program” acknowledges the efforts of innovative chefs, operators, distributors and industry professionals who creatively menu or market U.S.-grown rice in support of U.S. farmers. Read more about the foodservice professionals that demonstrate originality, leadership and excellence in the industry and in the community.
Chef Capi Peck
Owner of Trio's and Capi's Restaurants Little Rock, Arkansas
Honored for supporting U.S. grown rice and sustainable foods.
Trio's features "Arkansas Basmati Rice" in several entrees on their menu, including Thai-style Shrimp Curry and Chicken or Shrimp Enchiladas with signature Jalapeno Rice. Chef Peck and partner Brent Peterson are active members of the Arkansas Green Restaurant Alliance and are committed to serving local foods.
Chef Mark Abernathy
Owner of Loca Luna and Bene Vita Restaurants
Little Rock, Arkansas
Honored for innovative applications using U.S. Rice.
Loca Luna, a casual "mid-range" bistro features different types of U.S. rice in creative dishes like Chiles Rellenos stuffed with Cheesy Rice, Caribbean Voodoo Stew with Rice and vegetarian favorite Delta Wraps rolled with rice, cheese, black-eyed peas and vegetables. Chef Abernathy is active in restaurant organizations like the Consolidated Arkansas Restaurant Alliance (CARI).
Chef Kathy Webb
Owner of Lilly's Dim Sum
Little Rock, Arkansas
Honored for supporting local foods including U.S. jasmine rice and organic brown rice.
Lilly's Dim Sum, a contemporary Asian restaurant, features cooked-to-order dishes using U.S.-grown rice in house specialties like Hong Kong Chicken, Korean Bibim Bop, a variety of Rice Bowls, and Pineapple Fried Rice, all freshly prepared using as many local ingredients as possible. Chef Webb and partner Nancy Tesmer are committed to the green restaurant movement as cofounders of the Arkansas Green Restaurant Alliance and contributors to numerous charitable organizations.
Executive Director of Dining Services at Hendrix College
Honored for menuing U.S. rice daily during all meal/day parts.
Hendrix College, an award winning foodservice operation, serves over 1,000 students three meals a day, seven days a week. The foodservice staff and students recognize the significance of Arkansas as the largest rice producing state in the U.S. industry, and enjoy dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Chef Donald Link
Owner of Herbsaint and Cochon Restaurants
New Orleans, Louisiana
Honored for "proudly" serving Louisiana rice in contemporary regional favorites.
Cochon, an authentic Cajun and southern style restaurant and French-inspired Hersaint feature foods and cooking techniques that Chef Link grew up preparing and eating in Louisiana's Cajun Country like his popular Boudin Balls. As a member of a rice farming family, he's found a unique way to combine the best of both worlds by setting the standard for Cajun cuisine and making U.S.-grown rice an integral part of his menu creations. Chef Link deeply supports the use of locally/U.S.-sourced ingredients and recently published his first cookbook Real Cajun highlighting favorites from his beloved regional cuisines.
Chef Jason Labahn
Chef Instructor, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Las Vegas, Nevada
Honored for teaching essential rice cooking techniques and dishes using U.S. rice.
Chef-instructor at the renown Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Chef Labahn, a proponent of U.S.-sourced ingredients taught a U.S. rice master class "Rice: Ancient Grain in Today's Global Cuisine," at the 2009 Foodservice Educators Network International (FENI) conference in Las Vegas. The class outlined the fundamental techniques used to create both classic and contemporary rice dishes in American and international cuisines. Chef Labahn is skilled in Caribbean cooking and classic French cuisine with modern American influence.
Chef David Slater
Executive Chef for Harris Teeter Inc.
Matthews, North Carolina
Honored for educating consumers about the healthfulness of whole grains and the ease of preparing rice through a series of online recipe demonstrations.
As an executive chef in the grocery business, Chef Slater advocates for educating consumers about healthful prepared foods through recipe development, nutritional marketing and home meal replacement programs. U.S. Rice is a key ingredient that helps him lower the cost of well-balanced meals and offer a wide variety traditional and non-traditional dishes that fit shoppers budgets and taste preferences. Harris Teeter is a food market chain that operates in the eight-state area of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia.
Chef Joel Schaefer
Culinary Development, Walt Disney World Resorts
Honored for creating flavorful and healthy dishes using U.S. rice to meet the special dietary needs of Disney guests.
WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resorts is a food industry leader committed to providing great tasting, healthy meals for their guests. Chef Schaefer features 100% whole grain brown rice in his Whole Grain Rice Pilaf with Grilled Mahi Mahi popular with both adults and children visiting the resort. In addition to his responsibility at Disney, he is involved in many professional activities, does cooking demonstrations, and serves on the Whole Grains Council’s Culinary Advisory Committee.
Chef Maricelle Presilla
Owner of Zafra and Cucharamama Restaurants
Hoboken, New Jersey
Honored for showcasing U.S. rice’s versatility in global cuisine.
As a culinary historian, Cuban native and owner of Latin restaurants Zafra and Cucharamama, Chef Presilla has an endless passion for Latin American and Spanish foods. Guranteed to be the one ingredient in her kitchen, U.S. rice serves as the foundation for Chef Presilla’s global cuisines and comfort favorites like Rice Pudding and Red Beans and Rice.
Chef Aaron Flores
Executive Chef for the Celiac Sprue Association
Honored for raising awareness of Celiac disease and developing gluten-free menus using U.S. rice.
Celiac disease affects three million Americans, with millions more suffering from gluten sensitivity. Chef Flores caters to his gluten-intolerant customers using rice, the lease allergenic of all grains, to create flavorful dishes like Seafood Risotto with Grilled Vegetables. As an advocate for the Celiac Sprue Association, Chef Flores is spreading the word to increase the number of foodservice establishments focusing on this growing need for gluten-free meals and to highlight the benefits of using ingredients like U.S. rice as delicious and nutritious substitutes.
Director of Child Nutrition, The Ponca City Public Schools
Honored for encouraging healthy eating habits and educating kids about nutritional foods like U.S. rice.
Chef Denton’s passion for food, the health and well-being of kids and his K-12 foodservice knowledge makes him an ideal advocate for offering more nutritionally balanced meals in schools. Better known as “Chef Jeff” to the children of the Ponca City public school district, he travels far and wide to educate kids on food and conducts assemblies on a wide range of topics like seedless watermelon, oregano and rice. Also, popular among the Chef Jeff’s kids is his easy and fun recipe for Build-Your-Own Rice-Stuffed Burritos.
Chef Mark Bernetich
Corporate Chef with SYSCO Food Services Inc.
Honored for his innovative regional interpretations using U.S. rice.
Winner of the “Rice on the Menu” contest, conducted by the USA Rice Federation and SYSCO Food Service, Chef Bernetich illustrated the grain's versatility with his Dungeness Crab Fried Rice recipe entry. His straight-forward approach to cooking reflects the region’s food influences and the unlimited menu possibilities using U.S. rice.
Cynthia Dawso Van Druff, Foodservice Director
Stephanie Miller, Foodservice Manager
Upper Moreland Middle School
Willow Grove, PA
Honored for adding Healthy Rice Bowls to the school lunch program.
The Upper Moreland Middle School foodservice staff serves school lunch to over 750 students and features rice bowls twice a month, including the popular Asian and Fiesta Rice Bowls, winners of the 2008 Healthy Rice Bowls Contest. A growing trend, Rice Bowls are ideal for delivering complete meals that are full of flavor, offer the nutritional benefits of brown and enriched white rice, and combine well with other nutritious foods like vegetables and proteins.