Gene Lee, president and CEO, Darden Restaurants, was named the 2018 Gold Plate Award winner by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA). He was one of nine operator executives eligible for the award after earning recognition as a IFMA Silver Plate award winner in March. Lee represented the Chain Full Service category.
Lee has more than 30 years of experience in the foodservice industry. As president and CEO of Darden Restaurants since 2015, he maintains strategic and operational responsibility of an eight-brand portfolio that includes Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s.
In addition to Lee, IFMA recognized the following 2017 Silver Plate winners by category:
- Health Care: Jim McGrody, culinary director, UNC Rex Healthcare
- Retail & Specialty Foodservice: Voni Woods, experience officer, Giant Eagle
- Chain Limited Service: Paul Brown, co-founder and CEO, Inspire Brands
- Elementary & Secondary Schools: Ken Yant, director, school nutrition, Gwinnett County Public Schools
- Independent Restaurants/Multi-Concept: Craig Huse, president and co-owner, Huse Culinary
- Business & Industry/Foodservice Management: Michiel Bakker, director of food, Google
- Colleges & Universities:
- Hotels & Lodging: Susan Terry, vice president of culinary and food & beverage operations, Marcus Hotels & Resorts