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Tony Blackbear is a 2018 International Gold & Silver Plate Society stipend recipient. He attends University of Illinois Champaign Urbana and is majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Find out what he had to say when we asked him a few questions about his foodservice scholarship and future career.



What is your major & what made you decide on it?
Hospitality and Tourism Management. I decided to major in this because over the years of my college career I learned a lot about myself but most importantly I learned my passion is people. I have a servant's heart and love the thrill I get when I make someone's day a little brighter.

How has your stipend enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
This scholarship has helped me to pay for expenses so I can stay in college and pursue my dreams of having a career in the foodservice industry.

What was your first job in foodservice?
My first foodservice job was Wendy's. Here is where I began to learn about food safety practices, service, and leadership.

What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
I have a few dream jobs after graduation. The first, is to work for a restaurant company where I can grow as a leader and as a professional. The second, is to work for a luxurious resort where I can work my way up to being a Food and Beverage Director. The third, is going into beverage sales where I can work my way up to being a district manager. Overall, I would love to work my way to being a Master Sommelier.

What have you learned that you will apply to a career in foodservice?
I have learned what it means to be a leader, recipe and menu development, developing policies and procedures, maintaining good distributor relationships, communicating effectively with employees and boss.

What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
I believe students face the challenge of overcoming the mindset of the foodservice is just a job to get them through. Foodservice is much more than that. It is a place to grow as an individual and a professional while also bringing experiences and great quality food to individuals. One of my professors always says the most important people and decisions are made over a meal. At Planet Orange, I have made it my personal goal to not only develop my employees but also to get them out of that mindset and see the opportunities they have if they continue with the foodservice industry.

Do you have a mentor? How have they helped you?
Yes, my mentor has helped by giving me opportunities students usually don't get to have while in college. I am an Assistant Manager at Planet Orange which is a quick service restaurant in the Hospitality and Tourism Managment major. Here, I have learned how to lead 40 employees along with 60 rotation students from our intro to food studies course. I have created policies and procedures, enhanced my organization skills, learned menu development, sales tracking, and ordering and inventory. All because of my mentor giving me this opportunity.

What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is yellow curry with steamed rice and vegetables with chicken. I also enjoy steak and asian cuisine.

What companies have you worked at for internships?
I worked at the Four Seasons.

About The IFMA Education Foundation

The IFMA Education Foundation promotes the next generation of foodservice leaders. The Foundation is committed to give qualified culinary, marketing or food science students support toward completion of education requirements. Over the years, we've accomplished our goal by providing scholarships, publications, educational programs, internships and stipends to accredited institutions and individuals enrolled in accredited institutions.

About People Future 2025 

The IFMA Education Foundations new industry initiative, focused on attracting the best and brightest talent into the foodservice industry. Click here to learn more.

How to help the next generation of foodservice!

  • Support the IFMA Education Foundation by making a donation
  • Get involved in the People Future 2025 initiative

Contact us at ifma@ifmaworld.com.