February 17, 2021

National Restaurant Association and SmartBrief Host Inaugural Innovation Awards for Foodservice

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 17, 2021) – The National Restaurant Association and SmartBrief, Inc. recently announced the inaugural Innovation Awards for Foodservice, honoring industry products and solutions that help operators and professionals work smarter, safer, and more sustainably.

Following a challenging year for the foodservice industry, the awards will recognize innovative new or updated products and services that exemplify adaptability and resilience in three categories: sustainability products, technology solutions, and safety and health solutions. The nominations will be evaluated on their uniqueness in the market, ability to solve a problem, price value, and suitability for use.

“During the pandemic the businesses that help facilitate the work restaurants do stepped up to provide the tools and innovations that were needed to make quick adjustments to operations to meet consumer needs and new regulations,” said Tia Mattson, executive vice president of enterprise marketing and communications for the National Restaurant Association. “The Innovation Awards for Foodservice will elevate and honor some of the companies–and their solutions–that provided greater efficiency when foodservice operators needed it most.”

A panel of judges composed of restaurant industry executives, Association experts, and SmartBrief editors, will select the winners. Judges include:

  • Jeff Clark, expert exchange director, Food Safety & Quality Assurance, Nutrition, and Sustainability, National Restaurant Association
  • Damian Hanft, vice president of training and team member activation, Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Jorge Hernandez, vice president, Quality Assurance, Wendy's
  • Larry Lynch, senior vice president, Science and Industry, National Restaurant Association
  • Nitin Malhotra, senior director, Enterprise PMO, Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Matt McMillin, vice president, Culinary and Beverage Innovation, Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants 
  • Perry Quinn, senior vice president, Business Innovation Development, National Restaurant Association
  • Karim Webb, owner, PCF Restaurant Management

“As a leader of content curation for the restaurant industry, SmartBrief has observed many of the innovative advances made in 2020,” said Amanda Darman-Allen, chief partnership officer at SmartBrief. “This awards program was a way for us to salute the foodservice industry for its great achievements, innovations, adaptability, and resilience during one of the most challenging times in our history. This awards program is our way of honoring some of the trailblazers who forged new paths in sustainability solutions, delivery management systems and technological innovation.”

SmartBrief publishes the Association’s daily Restaurant SmartBrief and weekly Restaurant Innovation SmartBrief

Nominations are open until Feb. 28, with winners announced in March. 

Go to awards.smartbrief.com/foodservice/ for more information about the awards and to nominate a product or solution.



About the National Restaurant Association
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We sponsor the industry's largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart). For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.


About SmartBrief
SmartBrief is one of the leading digital media publishers of targeted business news and information by industry. By combining technology and editorial expertise, SmartBrief delivers the relevant industry news  curated daily from thousands of sources  in partnership with leading trade associations, professional societies, nonprofits and corporations to nearly 6 million senior executives, thought leaders and industry professionals. For more information, visit SmartBrief.com.