Five restaurant and foodservice industry leaders will be honored at the 23rd Annual Salute to Excellence on May 22 at the Hilton Chicago, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced. Kicking off the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, this grand affair is the NRAEF’s premier fundraising event and pays tribute to the industry’s extraordinary current and future leaders.

The 2010 NRAEF honorees include S. Truett Cathy, founder, chairman, and CEO of Chick-fil-A Inc., who will be honored as the 2010 Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality.

The 2010 College of Diplomates inductees include:
Jerald W. Chesser, professor for the Collins College of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California; Alice Elliot, founder and CEO of The Elliot Group LLC in New York City;
and Denise Marie Fugo, chairman and CEO of Sammy’s in Cleveland.

The 2010 Michael E. Hurst Lifetime of Achievement in Education Award honoree is
Ferdinand E. Metz, president emeritus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and
managing partner of the Master Chefs’ Institute in Escondido, California.

“We are honored to recognize these extraordinary individuals with the NRAEF’s most prestigious awards. They each have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to education and excellence in our industry,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “We are privileged to honor them for their contributions, and they fully embody our commitment to enhancing the restaurant industry’s service to the public through education, community engagement, and promotion of career opportunities.”

As the NRAEF’s most highly anticipated social event of the year, Salute to Excellence features an opportunity to network with the restaurant and foodservice industry’s most respected leaders and sample a tempting selection of foods. The event will also feature TREND, a one-of-a-kind fashion show with Food Network star Ted Allen as host that features the latest trends in restaurant apparel and more. The fundraiser supports the NRAEF Scholarship Program and the NRAEF’s ProStart program. 

The Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award is the highest honor bestowed by the NRAEF. It is presented each May to an individual who is a member of the NRAEF’s College of Diplomates, and who is recognized as an outstanding leader in the restaurant and foodservice industry. 

The NRAEF College of Diplomates includes top industry leaders, educators, journalists, restaurant association executives, authors, chefs, and TV personalities who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement and enhancement of the restaurant and foodservice industry’s image. 

To honor the devotion to educating and enhancing the lives of young people that characterized Michael E. Hurst—a respected and successful restaurant operator and firm advocate of industry education—the NRAEF awards the Michael E. Hurst Lifetime of Achievement in Education Award to an outstanding educator who has made an indelible contribution to restaurant and foodservice education.