Annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show

Gathering industry leaders, educators and top students from more than 100 restaurant and culinary schools nationwide, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) joined forces with Founding Partner The Coca-Cola Company and Presenting Sponsor, Ecolab Inc., to host the 19th annual Salute to Excellence Awards Gala and Banquet. This highly anticipated event, which celebrates the best and the brightest in the restaurant and foodservice industry by spotlighting esteemed leadership and extraordinary academic accomplishments, took place on Saturday, May 20th at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago, Ill., kicking off the 87th Annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

The evening began with a cocktail reception, which featured several lively creations from The Coca-Cola Company, and allowed guests to mingle before the awards gala got underway. During the gala and banquet, several awards were presented, including one of the highest distinctions awarded by the NRAEF: the Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award. Established in 1987, the Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award is presented each year to select members of the College of Diplomates in recognition of extraordinary achievement in the industry, exemplary career leadership and substantial contributions to education. The 2006 Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality is James A. Collins, FMP, chairman emeritus, Sizzler Restaurants International.

Each year the NRAEF inducts outstanding members who actively strive to support and strengthen the advancement of professionalism and education within the industry, into its prestigious College of Diplomates. The 2006 Diplomates inductees are Chef John D. Folse, CEC, AAC, president, Chef John Folse & Company; Patricia S. Harris, chief diversity officer, McDonald's Corporation; and Florence Jaramillo, FMP, president, Manzana Center Inc., dba Rancho de Chimayo.

The 2006 Michael E. Hurst Lifetime Achievement in Education Award was presented to Dr. Morris J. W. Gaebe, chancellor, Johnson & Wales University. One of the highest honors in hospitality education, this award is presented each year to a current or retired post secondary and/or graduate professor or administrator who has dedicated his or her career to academic instruction in the field of hospitality, culinary or foodservice management.

The evening also included the presentation of the James H. Maynard Excellence in Education Award, made possible by Golden Corral, to two outstanding ProStart teachers. This year's winners were: Barbara Hughes, High Point High School, Beltsville, Maryland and Darcy Glagolich, Kodiak Island Borough School District, Kodiak, Alaska. These teachers each received a $5,000 cash prize.

The Salute to Excellence Awards Gala & Banquet recognized the triumphant careers of these exceptional leaders who have made extraordinary individual contributions to promoting education and mentoring; including the work of the NRA Board of Directors and the NRAEF Board of Trustees. The Awards Gala and Banquet also presents an opportunity to honor the country's most remarkable restaurant and foodservice industry student delegates who represent our industry's future leadership. This year's event also showcased the introduction of the NRAEF's new competency-based certificate program developed for colleges and universities, the NRAEF ManageFirst ProgramTM.

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