A grand anniversary for the foodservice industry’s biggest night! 

On Saturday, May 18, nearly 600 industry leaders gathered to celebrate IFMA’s 70th annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration, the industry’s longest-standing and most respected legacy awards program. The awards ceremony was held in the beautiful Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station. An inspiring program and joyous dinner recognized the Silver Plate winners and cheered for the announcement of the 2024 Gold Plate honoree.


At the event, each member of the Silver Plate class was introduced by their professional mentors, a remarkable group of leaders from across the food-away-from-home ecosystem. Each shared the inspiring stories of their mentees as well as common threads that exemplified why this year’s class was so deserving. “True leadership is not about accolades,” said Julie Jones, Director of Performance Learning at Ruck-Shockey Associates, 2015 Silver Plate winner, and mentor to David Reeves, System Director, Food and Nutrition Services at Lee Health, “but about making a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”

Jeremy Kelley, Director of Legends Affairs at the Carolina Panthers and mentor to Jon and Jen Corto, Owners and Co-Founders of Buffalo Strive noted “this success is not accidental, and while some stumble upon it, you must eventually order its steps. And I’d bet almost none of us walk alone. I believe to truly be ; you must first recognize your ability to make someone else great. That’s teamwork.” 

Silver Plates were awarded in eight category segments, and one is chosen by secret ballot to receive the coveted Gold Plate Award for the year. This year, that honor was awarded to Chris Tomasso, President & CEO at First Watch Restaurant Group. In accepting the Gold Plate, Tomasso remarked, "I ended up in the restaurant industry and it got in my blood. Everybody in this room knows that once it's in your blood, it's in your blood. I love what I do every day and I consider myself to be so lucky to lead this great company.” 

Read about the 2024 Class of Gold & Silver Plate Award recipients >>

The weekend started with an exclusive dinner on Thursday at the University Club of Chicago for the 2024 Silver Plate Award recipients and their guests, and then moved to a day of activities hosted by the IFMA Education Foundation on Friday. 



The 2024 IFMA Education Foundation Summit: A Day of Learning, Connecting & Inspiration

The 2024 IFMA Education Foundation Summit was one for the history books. Not only did IFMA feature some of the industry’s top talent, but also hosted six different colleges and universities for a jammed packed day of education and networking. Thank you to the executives who donated their time and all the students and their advisors from Purdue, University of Illinois, Kansas State University, Florida International University, Northern Arizona State, and Michigan State University for helping to make this the biggest and most robust event to date. 

Learn more about the 2024 IFMA Education Foundation Summit >>

Friday night, about 200 foodservice professionals came together to witness the induction of the 2024 Silver Plate winners into the Gold & Silver Plate Society. The evening was hosted by the IFMA Education Foundation and its 2024 Chair, and Senior Vice President and General Manager at The J.M. Smucker Company, Tim Wayne, who described the ongoing Education Foundation work for attendees, “Through the Foundation, we provide scholarships and stipends for internships to hospitality schools and they then select their student recipients...The Foundation hopes to help schools with enhancing their curriculums and promotion of our industry to their students and potential students. There’s a lot of fertile ground out there!”

Before Kafarakis handed out the Silver Plate pins and aprons to this year’s honorees – a long-standing tradition – chair of IFMA’S Board of Directors and the President of Custom Culinary, Ben Wexler noted, “recognizing your extraordinary leadership through our awards is a highlight of every year. And I’m proud that doesn’t just end when we put the fancy engraved plate into your hands and snap some photos. The society is a way for us to continue to recognize you and ensure that future generations of foodservice leaders understand how this industry constantly grows stronger.” 

View photos from the full Gold & Silver Plate Awards Weekend here. To download images use download pin: 9437

Nominations for the 2025 Silver Plate Awards will open in July and run through mid-November. You can read more about the awards, and review the list of past winners >> 

Mark your calendars for the 71st IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration on Saturday, May 17, 2025 at the same location, Chicago’s historic Union Station.
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