The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) Presents the 67th Annual Gold Plate Award to Antoinette “Toni” Watkins, MS, RDN, System Director of Food & Nutrition Services at Riverside Health System

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 14, 2021— Antoinette “Toni” Watkins, MS, RDN, System Director of Food & Nutrition Services at Riverside Health System, was named the 2021 Gold Plate Award recipient by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) during the 67th Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration. Watkins, representing the Health Care category, was nominated by Basic American Foods and was selected from an impressive slate of this year’s Silver Plate winners.

“I am honored and I am blessed with the opportunities that have been in front of me,” said Watkins. “I’ve been really fortunate to work for an organization to help take the lead in helping to make a difference in the community in which we serve. This award truly means a lot. It’s a lifetime achievement, but it’s not the end.”

Interested in a career as a dietitian since she was a young child, Watkins attended University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, where she received her B.S. degree—and Boston University, where she achieved her M.S. She joined Riverside Health System in 2015, assuming control of multiple sites throughout eastern Virginia. Through benchmarking, productivity initiatives, technology, and creative strategies, she has made substantial improvements and saved the system over $1 million through enhancements.

With a foodservice career spanning 30 years, she remains highly active in the field and has been a member of the Food Management Practice Group, the Association of Healthcare Food Service (AHF), and was the 2020 Chairperson for the AHF Reward and Recognition Committee. She is a Diversity Liaison with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and received a Diversity and Inclusion Certification from Cornell University.



About the 2021 Silver Plate Class:

In addition to Watkins, the 2021 Silver Plate recipients (and the companies that nominated them) include:

  • Hotels & Lodging:
    Bill Kohl, Principal | Greenwood Hospitality Group
    Nominated by Ecolab


  • Elementary & Secondary Schools:
    Dani Sheffield, Executive Director, Child Nutrition Services, Aldine ISD | Aldine Independent School District
    Nominated by Cargill, Land O'Lakes, General Mills, and Ruiz Food Products


  • Colleges & Universities:
    Steve Mangan, Senior Director | University of Michigan Dining Services
    Nominated by Ecolab and Kellogg's Away From Home


  • Retail & Specialty Foodservice:
    Phillip Allison, Deputy Director | US Naval Academy Business Services Division
    Nominated by Basic American Foods


  • Chain Full Service:
    John Cywinski, President | Applebee’s Grill + Bar
    Nominated by PepsiCo and Nestlé Professional


  • Business & Industry/Foodservice Management:
    Scott Davis, CEO | FLIK Hospitality
    Nominated by PepsiCo and Singer M. Tucker


  • Independent Restaurant / Multi-Concept:
    Thomas Keller, Chef / Proprietor | Chef Thomas Keller's Restaurants
    Nominated by Nestlé Professional


  • Chain Limited Service:
    Nick Vojnovic, President | Little Greek Fresh Grill
    Nominated by Grecian Delight

“It’s a great honor to celebrate the nine new industry icons that are part of the 2021 IFMA Gold & Silver Plate class,” said Larry Oberkfell, IFMA President & CEO. “These individuals represent the best of our industry and embody the passion, talent and leadership of our foodservice community. I look forward to congratulating both the 2020 and 2021 Gold & Silver Plate classes in person this November at IFMA’s Presidents Conference in Scottsdale.”

IFMA will host an in-person celebration for both the 2020 and 2021 Gold & Silver Plate Classes during its Presidents Conference, to be held in Scottsdale, AZ November 7-9, 2021.


2021 Award Winners


About the Gold Plate & Silver Plate Awards

The Gold & Silver Plate Awards, now in its 66th year, is the longest-running and most respected awards program in the foodservice industry. Each year, a distinguished jury of trade press editors and previous award winners weigh the merits of candidates who best represent IFMA’s vision, mission and values. Winners are honored with the Silver Plate Award. One of these accomplished and esteemed operators is chosen by secret ballot to receive the industry’s most coveted recognition, the IFMA Gold Plate Award for overall industry excellence.

About the Gold Plate Selection Process

The Gold Plate Award recipient was determined through secret ballot by a jury of past Silver Plate winners, national trade press editors and foodservice experts. The Selection Jury was chaired by Nancy Kruse, The Kruse Company. The ballot was tallied by BDO USA, LLP and kept confidential until the announcement at the Gold & Silver Plate Celebration on September 14.

About Past Gold Plate Winners

James Collins ('77), Ted Balestreri ('84), Richard Melman ('89), J.W. Marriott Jr. ('93), Joseph K. Fassler ('96), Ralph Brennan ('97), Timothy J. Dietzler ('10),  John Metz, Jr. ('13),  Wolfgang Puck (’17) and Gene Lee (’18) are among the renowned operators who have received IFMA Gold Plates over the years.

About International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA)

The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) is an established trade association serving foodservice manufacturers for over 65 years to improve industry practices and relationships while equipping every foodservice manufacturer with the tools to navigate their future with confidence. By providing insights, developing best practices and fostering connectivity through events, we enlighten members and motivate change that leads to betterment for the individual member organization and the industry at large. For more information, visit Follow IFMA on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.