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Meet Cheryl Shimmin, Executive Director of Retail, Culinary, and Nutrition Care at Kettering Health. Cheryl received the 2022 Silver Plate Award in the Healthcare category, and was nominated by PepsiCo Foodservice.



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 Cheryl had to say about her 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?

My passion for food is owed to my mother and grandmothers. Cooking and baking have always been the center of family events – from making egg noodles to baking yeast breads to cooking traditional family recipes. I continue to make some of these family-inspired recipes today. Despite this food-oriented start, I went to Miami University to become a Medical Technologist. Junior year, bored with microscopes, food and dietetics called my name. I made the switch to earn a BS in Dietetics.

The Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas dietetic internship prompted the realization people interactions and food make me happy! As a result, I stayed on as the Purchasing/Production Dietitian for two years before returning to Kettering, my home town. This was the start of a 38-year progressive foodservice leadership career at Kettering Health.

What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?

The ability to use creativity in making a difference – in people, in customer experiences, in employee engagement and in operational design. This industry is anything but boring especially in today’s every changing environment. Happiness is when a patient rates Kettering’s food better than local 5-star restaurants; when a leader who started working on tray line at 19 is promoted to department director 16 years later; when your experimental 500-square foot kitchen design successfully satisfies patient experience in a 30-bed hospital; and when our bake shop’s famous Carrot Cake is often featured as “the best” on the Dayton Foodies Facebook page.

Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.

Having been given the latitude and support by our health system leaders to build a Culinary and Nutrition Care team which is dedicated to driving food and clinical quality – making Kettering Health seen as a leader in healthcare foodservice and clinical innovations. Thirty plus years ago, Kettering Health’s food quality image was overshadowed by healthcare competitors and local restaurants. Transforming our “hospital food” image became a personal goal. Fred Manchur, our current system CEO and food aficionado, opened major doors for Culinary and Nutrition Care when he supported the hiring of executive chefs (including a pastry chef); the development of a room service concept (our Culinary Cuisine brand); and innovative restaurant conceptualization. Today, community members often visit our retail foodservice to purchase favorite menu items from Tortilla Soup to Carrot Cake and more. Several of our chefs have won and/or competed in culinary contests. The patient’s comment, “We chose to have our second child at Kettering, just to get more of the Carrot Cake” says it all.

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

Motivation grows out of strong, trusting team relationships. Over the last few years, our department held “inner mission” huddles which started with employee-led devotions or inspirations followed by rapid fire informational bullets and stump-the-director questions. These in-person meetings were more limited last year. As a result, purposeful daily rounding to understand and resolve employee needs was key to fostering trusting relationships and ultimately, team motivation.

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

1. If you are a passionate individual who enjoys being creative, is looking for adventure, and is wanting to make a difference, enjoy the foodservice industry ride!
2. Create a network of peers by getting professionally involved. The bigger the network, the greater the resources to tap when faced with operational or leadership challenges.
3. Remember, there are no failures, just educational opportunities. Learning never ends.
4. Practice just-in-time worrying… don’t let the “what-if’s” or “this won’t work because” phrases paralyze you… be open minded to the how…. learn from the past and apply to the future.
5. Invest in your employees and customers by creating relationships built on trust through dynamic rounding processes.

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

Feeling honored, thankful, elated, and surreal come to mind. Honored because several Silver Plate Award winners are personal professional mentors whom I highly revere. Very thankful to IFMA for this prestigious award recognizing a career path centered on helping others and making the world a better place through food and nutrition. This award is quite special as a working mother who tried to balance all aspects of life. A special thank you goes to my parents and family who provided much-needed support and made many sacrifices during my career at Kettering Health.

What is your favorite meal?

There are several “favorites,” but Chicken and Homemade Egg Noodles bubble to the top. My grandmother made the traditional German egg noodle recipe for every family reunion and holiday dinner. As grandkids, we would watch and “assist” her as she rolled and cut enough noodles to fill a 5-gallon stockpot. Working with her and making noodles helped trigger my interest in cooking. To this day, I continue this tradition for our special family gatherings.

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.