It's a good thing the restaurant industry was able to ramp up its efforts on behalf of food advocacy groups like Share Our Strength in 2009. Thanks to a lagging economy and markedly fewer working adults, this organization's mission — ending childhood hunger — became even more critical this year.
To honor its successes, Share Our Strength (SOS) last month presented its 2009 Leadership Awards to restaurants and restaurateurs whose efforts had made a significant impact during the year.
The winners included:
• Joe's Crab Shack, 2009 Community Leader — Great American Dine Out Award. The seafood chain donated more than $165,000 to this year's SOS Great American Dine Out event.
• Daniel Boulud and Zach Bell, Café Boulud, Palm Beach, FL, 2009 Community Leader — A Tasteful Pursuit Award. The pair were cited for their extraordinary fundraising accomplishments and event production for SOS's Tasteful Pursuit touring dinner series.
• Billy Grant, Restaurant Bricco and Grant's Restaurant and Bar, Hartford, CT, 2009 Chef/Restaurateur of the Year Award (shared). Grant helped revitalize SOS's Taste of the Nation in Hartford by recruiting his fellow chefs, donating to the auction and participating in other aspects of the event.
• Mindy Segal, Hot Chocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar, Chicago, 2009 Chef/Restaurateur of the Year Award (shared). Segal rebuilt the group's Taste of the Nation Chicago event, getting more than 800 people involved and securing $25,000 in donated goods and services.
• Morris Salerno, president, Epicurean World Master Chefs Society, Highland Village, TX, 2009 Share Our Strength's Operation Frontline Hall of Fame. He has taught Operation Frontline courses at the North Texas Food Bank for the past 10 years.
• Jean Bowen, owner, Cuisine by Jean, Boulder, CO, 2009 SOS's Operation Frontline Hall of Fame. She teaches at Operation Frontline-Denver, and her business specializes in meals for those with medical needs, a particular area of concern for Operation Frontline students.