Meet Sammy Gianopoulos, Co-Owner & Executive Chef / Senior Director of Culinary at Crisp Hospitality Group. Sammy received the 2022 Silver Plate Award in the Independent Restaurant / Multi-Concept category, and was nominated by Ecolab.
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 Sammy had to say about his 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?
Some of my earliest memories are of me imitating my father as the owner of a restaurant. Practical experience began for me around the age of 11 or 12 – washing dishes and bussing tables. Like so many others, I worked my way up from there.
What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
First, the opportunity to build lasting relationships with my customers as I get to know their families and over time, I watch them grow. The satisfaction I get from putting smiles on their faces through an exceptional product and outstanding service is one of the most meaningful parts of this profession. In addition, I could not be prouder of the way I’ve changed the lives of so many of my employees. To be a positive influence on them, to be able to help them grow both in this industry and as people and family members – their own families and the “restaurant” family – is one of the most rewarding aspects of leadership in this industry.
Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.
Hopefully my biggest accomplishment is yet to come, but certainly winning a Silver Plate Award, an honor given to so many innovative and trend-setting names in the industry, many of them legends and idols of mine, that must rank up there as one of my greatest accomplishments. On top of that, the legacy I have built – and am building – while being able to provide for my family while doing something I love.
How have you kept yourself and your team motivated this past year?
We created an atmosphere where teamwork meant involvement of all levels of the business, from owners to employees. We were as transparent as possible when confronting the unique challenges of the past year and worked to instill confidence in the staff by keeping them fully informed about the ever-changing environment that the restaurants were in the last 2 years.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
You must love what you are doing in this industry. Every job is important, from manager to server to dishwasher. Work hard, lead by example, and remind yourself (and your employees) that the experience you gain is always going to be worth much more than your paycheck.
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
While I feel so privileged to receive this award, so much of the credit should go to the people who helped me get here. From my father who got me started, to the many partners and truly dozens of team members who helped me build a body of work that even got me considered for such an award, they all own a piece of this. This is really a confirmation that accomplishments in this industry are the results of the pieces you put in place as you go along. To inspire someone toward this honor in the same way that I was motivated by past winners – that would be a great honor.
What is your favorite meal?
Anything prepared by my Greek mother, from Christmas Dinner to a Monday night snack. Also, a quarter with cheese, no pickle, medium fry, medium coke.
2023 Nominations Are Open!
Click the button below to fill out the online nomination form.
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.