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What drives the nation’s top foodservice operators? We asked the 2017 Silver Plate Class a few questions to get the inside scoop. Find out what they had to say about career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.

Ted Faulkner, Director of Dining Services at Virginia Tech, received the 2017 Silver Plate Award in the Colleges & Universities category. Nominated by Basic American Foods.



What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?

People talk about work-life balance a lot. Home for me isn’t just the place I live. Home is also my work environment. I care deeply about the people I work with—not just my management team, but everyone at every level of the organization. I find huge reward and enormous joy in helping staff feel part of something bigger while helping them understand they are making a positive impact in the lives of others. I possess an unwavering commitment to excellence and that is the expectation that is set forth for the entire team to achieve—and the food service industry provides me the conduit to embrace that innate desire to perform. I love to find ways to make things better, not once but every day and always. I am afforded an opportunity each day to make it better for the students, better for the team members in Dining Services, better for Virginia Tech, and better for the food service industry. I get to see firsthand the positive impact and enjoy sharing the experience of being a part of something bigger. That is my reward and that gives me energy.

Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.

I’m very fortunate to be a part of a team that has received high levels of recognition and awards for the body of work over an extended amount of time. But I believe when asked what my biggest career accomplishment is, it is the way I have been able to approach my career. I deeply value those we provide services to, those we employ, and those with whom we partner. I believe each and every day over the course on my career I have led with passion through my character, integrity, respect, and caring instilled in me by my parents, family, and numerous life lessons.

How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?

This industry is more than great food on a plate. In higher education, I believe our role in food service is to help tell the real story and to create true experiences. Serving food is not just what we do; rather, it’s community building, learning, and growing through food. It’s about the student and the people that matter. Food is a tremendous tool to bring out the best in humanity. 

What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?

I would encourage someone new to this industry to find a place that ignites your passion. Value deeply the people you support and embrace what feels natural. Never settle to be complacent or good, but rather strive for excellence and greatness while giving it your very best every moment of every day. Look at other business sectors too, not just food service operators when developing services and experiences for your guests. Collect data, information, and feedback. Take focused time to assess what all that information is telling you and do something great with it. From your guests and their experiences to your staff and those you partner with, there is much to learn.

What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?

This is the pinnacle of a vision that was established long ago -- a vision that was contributed to and supported mightily by thousands of individuals over the course of multiple decades. The recognition is a renowned award for the whole Dining Services team to cherish. It provides confirmation that our effort over the years has true meaning and purpose. We indeed are having positive impacts on the development of humanity. To be recognized at the highest levels by those in the industry is almost unimaginable. Dining Services at Virginia Tech values everyone’s right to a quality experience during their time on this earth and this award is something tangible that reinforces that we are indeed making this a better world. It is an honor to be a part of such a prestigious group of fellow Silver Plate recipients and the significance that this award has in the industry. I’m blessed.

Join us at the 2017 IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration and help us in honoring Ted Faulkner and the rest of the Silver Plate Recipients.