What drives the nation’s top foodservice operators? To celebrate IFMA's 66th annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards, we asked the 2020 Silver Plate Class to share some perspectives and words of wisdom with the industry. 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 Eric Eisenberg, Director of Dining Services at Rogue Valley Manor. Eric received the 2020 Silver Plate Award in the Health Care category, and was nominated by Hobart-Traulsen-Baxter.
How did you get your start in the foodservice industry?
I was sent to boarding school in high school, and my work study job was in the dining hall washing dishes. I went from that to assisting the cook and ended up doing the same in college. Upon graduation I had a BA in Theater and an ability to cook, so I ended up back in New York City and went right to work in a restaurant. I’ve never done anything else. I’ve been working in foodservice uniquely since 1978.
What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
Working in foodservice has created opportunities for me to work shoulder to shoulder with and work for people of all walks of life and cultures. It has provided me a deep connection to so many amazing people over the years.
Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.
I do not know what is a greater accomplishment than this award? I feel like everything I have done thus far is culminating in this recognition. There are too many memorable moments to choose from, but I would say that most recently I led my team in providing an incredible catering event at the Oregon Wine Experience for 800 attendees. It is an internationally recognized wine festival, and we provided all the food for the medal celebration. This would normally be provided by award-winning local restaurants, and we took it on as the sole culinary partner of the event. The fact that a senior living community delivered at the level that we did blew everyone away. It got us a lot of local recognition in the food and wine community. This event truly bridged the gap between healthcare and hospitality that I am working to narrow.
I have also been slated as the next President–Elect for the Association for Healthcare Foodservice, another long-term goal that is amazingly coming to fruition alongside this incredible recognition of the Silver Plate.
How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?
Changing the perception of what the kids eat as ‘school food’ to being part of the local food scene and food system. We are now recognized as a legitimate operating business that serves Great Food not ‘school food’ in a school environment.
The K-12 segment has become an element driving change in our food systems instead of just the recipient of changes by working with the food industry to make product changes to meet the growing demand for clean label products.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
Dream big, never give up, stay the course and when you are told it can’t be done, do it and prove it can be done. Have a passion about what your goal is and it will take you through the difficult times.
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
I am quite frankly at a loss of word for the recognition that the Silver Plate brings. I am humbled and extremely honored to be part of group with so many esteemed professionals.
What is your favorite meal?
Way too many to list, but I do go back to comfort food from my youth and some of the ‘new trendy foods’ that were once regarded as peasant food.
Celebrate Bertrand and the rest of the Silver Plate Class on Monday, Nov 2 in Scottsdale at the 66th Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration. This year’s program has been added to IFMA’s Presidents Conference and tickets are now available.