The association recognizes six members of the restaurant industry for their many contributions to their communities and more.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) recognized three restaurants and three entrepreneurs with its 2013 Restaurant Neighbor and Faces of Diversity American Dream awards.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award celebrates the charitable service performed by restaurant operators. Recipients of the 2013 Restaurant Neighbor Award are

  • Arby’s Restaurant Group (Atlanta): Recognized for its mission to end hunger in partnership with Share Our Strength. Through a variety of national, grassroots and social media efforts, Arby’s raised more than $5 million in the past two years, in addition to connecting thousands with feeding programs in their communities.
  • El Gaucho Hospitality (Seattle): Donated more than $3 million over the last 10 years to local charities. The company has a long-standing relationship with Union Gospel Mission and has served 10,000 lunches to the less fortunate through a semi-monthly feeding program at the Mission.
  • Steve Paternoster, Owner, Scalo Northern Italian Grill (Albuquerque, N.M): Honored for his significant support of and contributions to non-profits and his local community. Paternoster has founded several charitable organizations, including Youth Matters, in memory of his daughter, to help teens in the children’s court system, and Haley’s Haven, a home to provide counseling, self-esteem classes and employment training for girls, which includes a culinary component.

The Faces of Diversity American Dream award is given to diverse members of the restaurant industry who have, through hard work and perseverance, achieved the American Dream, according to the NRAEF. The recipients of the 2013 Faces of Diversity American Dream awards are:

  • Monique Valenzuela Trudnowski, Owner/Operator, Adriatic Grill Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar (Tacoma, Wash.): By age 18, she had been abandoned by her father, worked to support her family, experienced being homeless and had her first child. Those setbacks didn’t stop her from opening her own restaurant in 2007 and, in 2009, establishing the Adriatic Grill Culinary Scholarship to help others pursue their dreams in the restaurant industry.
  • Sissy Ivy, ProStart Educator, Sevier County Career and Tech Center (Sevierville, Tenn.): She was the only sibling of seven children to graduate high school and remain out of prison. Ivy worked more than 15 years in the food industry to put herself through college to become a ProStart educator, operating a cafe and catering business with high school restaurant management and culinary arts students. All proceeds benefit the program and local charities.
  • Miguel Valdez, Executive Chef, The Red Door Restaurant/The Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge (San Diego): As a child, he and his family struggled against poverty, crime, drugs and an abusive father. He overcame a learning disability to work his way up from delivering pizzas to working as a line cook and eventually serving as executive chef. Valdez spends hundreds of hours cooking for charities and volunteering to teach low-income mothers to prepare healthy, cost-effective meals.