What drives the nation’s top foodservice operators? To celebrate IFMA's 65th annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration, we asked the 2019 Silver Plate Class to share 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.
Meet Beverly Lynch, Vice President of Food and Beverage at Golden Corral. Beverly received the 2019 Silver Plate Award in the Chain Full Service category, and was nominated by Nestlé Professional.
What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
I get the most enjoyment from the entire creative process of developing new products and working with incredibly supportive people, to seeing the fruits of your labor enjoyed by guests in our restaurants.
The creative process of developing new products, researching what is new and what is up and coming in the industry and seeing how these food ideas can fit into our concept is both challenging yet very rewarding.
There is a unique challenge to serving food in a Buffet Concept which is very different from serving a plated menu item, but for me, I started my career in the Cafeteria business so planning and preparing quantity cooking and serving in the buffet environment fits my background.
Working with incredibly supportive people is a major highlight of the hospitality industry. I have always felt that help is literally only a phone call away. Whether I call a supplier or a competitor I know I can always get the support I need.
Seeing the fruits of the labor is such an emotional experience, filled with joy and pride. I love watching our guest enjoying their favorite food, surrounded by family and friends. I can still remember watching the eyes of the children light up when they see the Chocolate Wonderfall for the first time. Or seeing the smile on a senior’s face when he digs into slow cooked collards, cooked just like his grandmother used to make. Seeing families of multiple generations coming together on a busy Sunday and knowing that what we do, creating great tasting food and providing warm hospitality is what keeps the guest happy.
Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.
The creation of the Golden Corral Chef Council is one of my biggest accomplishments. Most Food and Beverage departments have limited staff (ours is just 4 professionals) and a never ending “to do list.” Therefore tapping into our incredible Supplier community is critical. They offer support, provide extra hands and share creative ideas.
Golden Corral’s Chef Council was first created about 10 years ago as an extension of Golden Corral’s Culinary/Research and Development team. The Council is made up of 12-15 Food Manufacturers Corporate Chefs who all work together for the betterment of all.
These chefs represent multiple areas of the Food Service and Manufacturers industry, from seasonings to sauces, from proteins to dry blends and from soups to salads and onto main entrees and even desserts. Some are even direct competitors, but they come together, working shoulder to shoulder to help develop exciting and enticing new products, recipes and programs for Golden Corral.
Each year the Chef Council takes a culinary food tour of an interesting food city. We have visited buffets in Las Vegas, high-end restaurants in NY City, Southern Cooking in Charleston and BBQ in Austin. These food tours are geared to get the creative juices flowing. The real work begins as teams are formed and the Chefs start creating. The collaboration among these leading Foodservice industry Chefs is incredible. Many members of our Chef Council share that this is the highlight event for them as well. The Chef Council opens the chefs to other industry experts, and allows them to work with different products outside of their own company’s wheelhouse. The final event is a Chef Showcase featuring well over 100 new ideas and served to our Senior Leadership Team and Franchisees. The real success is that these products make their way onto our menu and to our guests.
I am most proud of the Chef Council because of the collaboration with the food manufacturers. We have built a tight knit community with corporate chefs and the research and development team all to benefit the guest.
How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?
As a leader in Family Dining segment Golden Corral is making a significant difference for the foodservice industry by making pleasurable dining affordable for all of our guests.
Eating out is a real treat for consumers and our segment allows guests of all means the opportunity to enjoy an incredible meal from soups to salads, to steaks, vegetables, fruit and dessert…plus our famous fresh made yeast roll at a very affordable price, with something for everyone. The other important aspect is that we are a draw for families of all ages. Often 4 generations will gather around the table to share a meal. It reminds me of the family meals we used to share on a regular basis, but now it is a special event. But bringing families together and serving something for everyone at a price they can afford is something to be proud of.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
Take a look at this industry as a lifetime career. There are so many diverse aspects of food service, from owning a restaurant to research and development to serving the guest through hospitality to serving those who serve the guest with IT support, sales, training, HR. The foodservice industry offers opportunities for everyone at all levels of their career development. While it is a wonderful place to start your work experience, food service can be a great place to spend your career. Be open to possibilities, be willing to offer your expertise and share your knowledge and reach out to others in the industry. You will be amazed how if you love what you do how quickly the time will fly and you will not think of it as a job. I often describe my job as one where “ I eat and talk all day.” Who wouldn’t love this work?
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
I think I need to go to Disney World, as it is like winning the Super Bowl. This is the pinnacle award in the entire foodservice industry and serves as a lifetime tribute to an amazing career. But I am most proud of the fact that this award is possible because of the relationships created through the Food Manufacturers community. I could not have been successful over these last 30+years without the dedication and support and most of all friendships I have shared with this incredible group of professionals.