We asked the Silver Plate Class of 2014 a few questions to get an inside look at what makes them the operator all-stars they are today. Find out what they had to say about passion for foodservice, career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.
Kevin D' Onofrio, Director of Foodservice, Culinary Group, United States Military Academy
D 'Onofrio received the 2014 Silver Plate Award in the Specialty Foodservices category. He was nominated byBasic American Foods and Cadet Theodore Fong.
What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
The best part of my job is having the honor to serve the Corps of Cadets, the future leaders of the United States Army. The fact that the Corps of Cadets is made up of students from every state in the nation requires all of us at the Culinary Group to constantly analyze food trends and design new menus to satisfy our diverse customer base. I take pride in the fact that the profit made at the Culinary Group goes directly to support the Corps of Cadets through extracurricular clubs and special events. In addition to serving the cadets, I am lucky to have a fabulous team of people to work with every day. My key managers have been with me for well over fifteen years. They are a hard-working and extremely dedicated team. I enjoy working with them to provide excellent quality food and superior service to our customers. Everything we do is ALL FOR THE CORPS!
Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.
After thirty-plus years in the foodservice industry, it is difficult to highlight just one accomplishment but several important things stand out to me. I began my career at the Culinary Group back in high school as a dishwasher. Over many years and by working at just about every job in the organization, I was able to attain the position I now hold as Director of Foodservice. I consider the fact that I am still excited about serving the Corps of Cadets on a daily basis and constantly looking for creative and innovative ways to serve my customers to be one of my greatest accomplishments. When I first began as Director of Foodservice, the Culinary Group had four locations. It has grown to eleven locations on a campus of less than five thousand students. The organization was making a little under a million dollars when I took over; currently we are making over nine million and growing. I also take pride in the fact that I have built a great team of managers over the years. They are essential to my success and the continued success of the organization.
How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?
West Point is a unique location - it is both a military base and a university. Members of the staff and faculty at the United States Military Academy are part of our customer base, but the primary focus of our business is to serve the cadets. Although the cadets are students, we are ultimately serving people. We approach this task with a strong commitment to excellence. We strive to provide the best selection of high-quality food items at the most reasonable price possible.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
The advice I have for newcomers is to be enthusiastic about what you do and put everything you have into it every day. Do not be afraid to work hard; although you may not see immediate rewards, your strong work ethic will be recognized in the future. Surround yourself with positive people that share your passion for excellence. Foodservice is a demanding industry and it takes an energetic team to make a positive impact on customers daily.
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
Receiving the IFMA Silver Plate is an incredible honor and extremely humbling. I am proud to be considered among such an outstanding group of professionals. This award is clear validation that perseverance in a very challenging industry is rewarded. The IFMA Silver Plate rewards the entire Culinary Group, all of whom made this honor possible. It recognizes not only me but all of the incredibly talented people who have inspired me and supported me throughout my many years in foodservice. I have been extremely fortunate to have had many outstanding mentors over the years; including General and Kathy Boylan, Colonels Hudgins, Kinney, Endres, Flowers and Orecchio. This award serves as a reminder that my organization must continue to set the standard for success in the foodservice industry.