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What drives the nation’s top foodservice operators? We asked the 2018 Silver Plate Class and got an inside look at what makes them the operator all-stars they are today. Find out what they have to say about their passion for foodservice, career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.



Voni Woods, Experience Officer at Giant Eagle received the 2018 Silver Plate Award in the Retail & Specialty category. Nominated by Nestlé Professional.

What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?

The People!  I’ve always been in the people business, and just happen to be focused on selling really good food for them to enjoy.  My attention area is Deli/Bakery where “good food” happens!  Understanding that food is such a personal thing, and making that emotional connection with people over high-quality foods they love creates a relationship of trust and loyalty which brings them back!

Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment:

I’ve received many awards through the years recognizing achievements, but my biggest career accomplishment revolves around leadership.  I had a significant year of transformational change well into my career where my work became less about me and laser-focused on building a fantastic team built on trust, confidence, innovation, and a willingness to try new things, fail quickly and try again!  I’ve learned to surround myself with A-players; people with a beautifully aggressive competitive spirit and an engaging attitude to win in a tough environment. Our team’s energy and all-in attitude elevates our performance and increases our ability to deliver superior service in all that we do.  

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

Giant Eagle is a longstanding, family owned and operated business, but it’s certainly not your momma’s supermarket!  Fresh food has been exploding across channels, and our unique opportunity is to combine individual items to create solutions across multiple areas of the store to meet the needs of a variety of customers.  We have offerings that are hot, cold, dine-in, take-home, ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat, ready-to-cook and, oh by the way, customers have the option to shop however they please whether that be shopping in store, ordering online and picking up at our curb, or letting us deliver it to their home!  Providing access to knowledgeable and friendly team members wraps the whole food experience up in a beautiful bow!

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

My advice is to find the joy.  Find the joy in selling great food and combine that with a spirit of helping people learn about products and offer solutions to serve them…help them to be a hero at home!  It’s hard work, but it’s a job well done! It’s taking pride in the little things like a smile or kind word. It’s the food that is going to be on a table in someone’s home.  What an honor and joy to serve our customers and be part of something so special!

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

It’s fantastically cool to me!  To be selected to receive this Silver Plate alongside other people who I not only aspire to be like, and to be recognized for not a single event or accomplishment, but for a body of work in the food retail industry is an amazing joy.  To celebrate it at this event is such a treat!


Join us at the 2018 IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration and help us in honoring Voni Woods and the rest of the Silver Plate Class. Click HERE for event information and to reserve your table now!