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Meet Lance Trenary, President and CEO of Golden Corral. Lance received the 2022 Silver Plate Award in the Chain Full Service category and the 2022 Gold Plate Award for Overall Industry Excellence. He was nominated by Ecolab and Nestlé Professional.

This video is brought to you with the support of Ecolab and Nestlé Professional.


The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) presented the Gold Plate Award, the foodservice industry’s top honor, to Lance Trenary of Golden Corral this weekend.

CHICAGO, May 22, 2022— Lance Trenary, President & CEO of Golden Corral was named the 2022 Gold Plate Award recipient by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) during their 68th Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration. Trenary was nominated in the “Chain Full Service” category by Ecolab and Nestlé Professional and selected from the impressive slate of this year’s Silver Plate winners.


The Gold & Silver Plate Awards is the longest-running and most respected awards program in foodservice. Each year, a distinguished jury of industry experts weighs the merits of candidates who represent the best in the industry. Winners receive the Silver Plate Award and one of these is then chosen by secret ballot to receive the Gold Plate Award for overall industry excellence.


Past Gold Plate winners include Joseph K. Fassler (1996), Danny Meyer (2000), Van Eure (2004), Charlie Trotter (2008), Timothy J. Dietzler (2010), Wolfgang Puck (2017), Regynald G. Washington (2019), Phil Hickey (2020), and Antionette Watkins (2021).


“I work with the most phenomenal team in the industry,” said Trenary when accepting the Gold Plate. “And this award is for them.” He went on, “The last two years have been so difficult. To have enjoyed the turnaround that we have had has been everything.”


Trenary has been the President and CEO of Golden Corral Corporation since 2015. Golden Corral is a nearly two-billion-dollar organization comprised of 35,000 employees and 500 restaurants across 42 states. Trenary has been a part of Golden Corral for 35 years and has held virtually every leadership role within the company in that time.

Interview: What Drives the Nation's Top Foodservice Operators?

We asked the 2022 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.


How did you get your start in the foodservice industry?

At the age of 8, I started washing dishes in my father’s restaurant, where I stood on a milk crate in front of a 3-compartment sink. Although I probably played as much as I worked, those early years set the stage for a lifelong career choice in an industry I love. That is what is so incredible about this industry – you can go from the dish room to the board room if that is a path you want to pursue.

What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?

What is not to love about a career in the restaurant business? I get to work around incredible people, serving guests and enjoying outstanding food all day, every day. However, what I enjoy most is being able to help others realize their dreams. Whether it be assisting a manager in franchising their restaurant, helping a ProStart student explore a hospitality profession, supporting an apprentice to land their first job, or providing a path for a support center co-worker to advance their career, it is rewarding to create opportunities for others like they were created for me.

Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.

I appreciate every recognition and award that we have been honored with at Golden Corral. The Silver Plate is undoubtedly at the top of that list. My biggest career accomplishment, though, was when James Maynard, our founder, trusted me enough to make me Golden Corral’s President and CEO in 2015. It was very humbling to know that he and Ted Fowler, my predecessor and mentor, believed I had the talent and character to become only the 3rd CEO in our company’s 49-year history. I have so much respect and love for these two giants in our industry that their belief in me is the most significant accomplishment of my career.

How have you kept yourself and your team motivated this past year?

The pandemic brought into focus my biggest motivators – my faith, my wife, and my two daughters, who lifted me every day. Then my team and I embraced a deep sense of purpose with a unified conviction to do everything possible to save our franchisees and our company. We vowed to watch out for one another, to offer support and encouragement when we might have a tough day. Our Board Chair, Easter Maynard, called virtually every day to provide her support and that of our dedicated board of directors. The entire Golden Corral family came together with the rallying call "the comeback is greater than the setback," and our team is accomplishing something no one thought possible every single day.       

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

The best advice I can offer is to first, love what you are doing. Anything short of that won't allow you to be your best. Next, find a place to work that aligns with your own beliefs and values. Then surround yourself with the right people – people you trust, people you can learn from, and people who have your best interest at heart. Last, never be afraid to try new things and never stop learning. I try to follow my own advice and have been blessed in many ways.

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

To win the Silver Plate is humbling and incredible all in one, but not just for me. This honor belongs to my entire team at Golden Corral, our franchisees, our board of directors, and our parent company, IMC. In addition, I want to thank our vendor/suppliers for their true partnership. I especially want to thank Nestlé and Ecolab for nominating me for the Silver Plate. Through everyone's commitment and dedication, we beat the odds and did what most thought was impossible – we collectively saved our brand. The Silver Plate is the perfect validation of everyone's unbelievable efforts. I am very grateful to accept this on behalf of the Golden Corral family.

What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is split evenly between my last one and my next one! To say I have a passion for great food is an understatement. If I had to pick one item, though, it would be a cast-iron bone-in ribeye basted in garlic-infused butter and fresh herbs. My daughter is a master at preparing this meal!


2023 Nominations Are Open!

Click the button below to fill out the online nomination form.

Nominate Now

NOTE: You will be able to save your form and work on it later. Make sure to submit it prior to the deadline of November 18, 2022.

For questions regarding the nomination process, contact Kathleen Sysma at kathleen@ifmaworld.com.