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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.

Patti Oliver, Director of Nutrition at UCLA Health System, received the 2017 Silver Plate Award in the Health Care category. Nominated by Hobart Corporation and Basic American Foods.



What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?

All of the wonderful, diverse people I have met. The group I work with at UCLA is like a second family.  Most of us have worked together a long time. Also you get to do creative, fun things. Not all careers are like that. I get the opportunity to delight and excite our patients and guests with creative recipes, menus, themes and decorations. We also get to witness the healing power of food before our eyes.

Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.

My biggest career accomplishment was probably moving into a brand new state of the art hospital while simultaneously implementing a new upscale, hotel-style room service program. You don’t really know how challenging a move like that is, particularly in a large academic medical center until you have done it. Combining that with a major change in service was a lot of change at once for everyone. I didn’t take a day off for about 3 months.

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

Hopefully we are changing the way people talk and think about hospital food. We hear comments from our patients all the time like “I can’t believe this is hospital food” or “I wanted to stay longer just to keep having room service”.

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

Be open to opportunity. When the chance to take on something new arises, don’t be too worried about whether or not you will be compensated for additional work, especially early in your career. Learning new skills just makes you more marketable and may take you in a direction you never thought you would be interested in. Years ago, starting out as a clinical dietitian, I never imagined I would be in a position like the one I am in now.

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

I am joining a group of people whom I think the world of. So many people I admire and respect have received this award. It is truly an honor to be in their company. I never imagined someday I would be a recipient of this award and it is like a dream come true. 

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