Mar 13, 2019

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association Presents New Regional Awards

Awards Wisconsin Regions MapThe Wisconsin Restaurant Association presented their new regional awards, developed by the association’s board of directors, at the annual Awards Gala held at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee on March 12th.  The event occurs during the WRA’s Midwest Foodservice Expo (March 11 – 13, 2019).

2019 is the inaugural year of WRA’s new regional awards which were created to shine a light on excellence exhibited in restaurants across the state in five regions.  These regions were identified for the purposes of the new awards. (SEE MAP) 

There are two categories – The Champion of Restaurant Entrepreneurship (CORE) awards and the Best of the House awards (which includes the Best of the Back of the House and Best of the Front of the House).

The criteria for the Best of the Back of the House include attention to detail, calm under pressure, strong work ethics and leadership skills.

Note: A quote from the winners’ nominators about why they are so deserving of this recognition is included after their name, title and employer/business.

Region 1 - Alex Slimak, director of the kitchen at Za 51 and Draganetti’s in Eau Claire. 

“Alex leads by example which garners the respect of the entire crew.  He is a wonderful mentor and values the opportunity to help mold young aspiring cooks into culinary professionals.”

Region 2 - Matthew Mazur, executive chef at The Blue Bayou Inn in Manitowish Waters.  

“Born into the restaurant industry, Matthew proudly carries on the tradition of his family’s restaurant.  He looks at new ideas and trends while preserving the legacy of his father’s recipes.”

Region 3 - Geddy Nordby, back of the house manager at Deo’s Pizzeria and Pub in Plymouth.

“Geddy’s work ethic and communication skills make him an outstanding employee.  He is good under pressure and he is a positive role model for other employees.“

Region 4 - John Moosreiner, executive chef at Weissgerber’s Golden Mast in Okauchee.  

“John has shown superior professional leadership in his position as Executive Chef for 47 years.  His commitment to exemplary performance has gained him the admiration and respect of all.”

Region 5 - Chris Myers, executive chef at Cento Ristorante in Madison.  

“Chris has an inner passion for the restaurant industry.  Without ego, he lifts up those around him, whether they are guests, fellow managers or staff.”

According to Kristine Hiller, WRA President and CEO, “The Back of the House winners show inspiring commitment to the foodservice industry and their contributions to the success of the restaurants where they work is so valuable.”  

The criteria for the Best of the Front of the House awards is outstanding customer service, strong work ethics, leadership skills and have earned the respect of their colleagues and employers.

Region 2 - Rachel Gee, server at The Black Forest Pub & Grille in Three Lakes. 

“Rachel has earned a large and loyal customer following.  Customers request her because she makes their experience enjoyable and fun, and treats them like family.”

Region 3 - Amanda Mihalic, general manager at Culver’s in Little Chute.

“Amanda has always made taking care of her team members and guests a huge priority. She is a strong leader and true advocate for our industry.“

Region 4 - Sarah Ruffert, assistant shift manager of the food court at  Potawatomi Bingo and Casino in Milwaukee.  

“Sarah has transformed her team into hospitality ambassadors by encouraging her employees to engage with guests and build relationships.”

Region 5 - Ben Brady, general manager of Everly and Miko Poke in Madison.  

“Ben has shown dedication to the art of hospitality.  His open mind and fair treatment of all makes his restaurants safe and welcoming places to work.”

Hillmer described the winners in this category as “true ambassadors of hospitality who create memorable and positive dining experiences every day.” 

The criteria for the Champion of Restaurant Entrepreneurship (CORE) award for owner/operators is demonstrated passion for - and success in, their business, a commitment to community involvement, and support WRA through membership.  Additionally the winners should demonstrate exemplary leadership skills, business acumen and have a knack for helping the restaurant industry move forward through innovation.  

Region 2 - Heather and Marcel Biró, owners of The Black Forest Pub & Grille in Three Lakes. 

“Heather and Marcel are the epitome of teamwork, professionalism and honesty.  They set high standards for themselves and their business and take time to engage in their community.”

Region 3 - Jim Seeboth, owner of Seeboth Delicatessen in Sheboygan.  

“Jim has a passion for the restaurant industry that is infectious.  His years of experience bring a calm assuredness that inspires those who work with him.”

Region 4 - Mike Holz, co-owner and executive chef of Brunch in Milwaukee and Brookfield.  

“Mike has all the qualities of a great leader.  He treats his staff like family and builds them up to their highest potential.  He loves nothing more than seeing them succeed.”

Region 5 - José García, proprietor and general manager of Hubbard Avenue Diner in Middleton

“Jose exemplifies all of the positive traits that you would look for in an proprietor and manager. He brings new ideas, fresh collaboration and a celebration of community to the diner.”

“The CORE award winners embody the dedication, creativity and heart that characterize this industry,” said Hillmer.

- END -

Since 1933, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been dedicated to the success of the foodservice and hospitality industry.