It's Here: the 40 Under 40

Olive Garden

Rising stars from big cities to Middle America.

Forty names you may not know, but FSR Rising Stars are making a significant impact on their companies and communities as they introduce innovation, creativity, and dedication to their restaurant operations, food and beverage menus, and dining experiences.

From all walks of the full-service restaurant industry, these rising stars are people you will want to take note of and visit when you’re in their neighborhoods. You’ll meet big-city chefs—like Marjorie Meek-Bradley, the 29-year-old executive chef who worked in leading restaurants coast-to-coast before landing at Ripple in Washington, and chef Zack Sklar, 28, who is helping create jobs and open new restaurants in his hard-hit hometown of Detroit. There are plenty of folks from Middle America as well—independent operators who are helping small towns turn around, entrepreneurs expanding franchise opportunities, leaders at fast-tracking regional restaurant groups, and key executives in national chains who are bringing healthier menus and greater efficiencies to restaurants across the country—like Cheryl Dolven, who is helping to bring healthier dishes to the 425 million guests that Darden Restaurants serves each year.

Cheryl Dolven, M.S., R.D.
Age 39
Director of Health & Wellness
Darden Restaurants

When Darden Restaurants—the largest restaurant company in the U.S. with sales topping $8.5 billion in its 2013 fiscal year—made a commitment to bring healthier menu options to its more than 2,000 restaurant locations, the company tapped a nutrition expert and registered dietitian to lead the charge.

Cheryl Dolven joined Darden in April 2011 as the company’s director of health and wellness, having served previously as the director of nutrition marketing for the Kellogg Company and as corporate dietitian for two supermarket companies.

Five months later, Darden announced it would reduce calories and sodium across its entire portfolio, while also bringing healthier options to its children’s menus. Almost immediately, Dolven says, “The commitment to lower sodium and calories changed the culinary conversation at Darden.

“We put nutrition into the conversation—across all levels of the organization, and it’s a big change,” she says. “The conversation is about transparency, choice, variety, and innovation. It’s about making positive social changes.”

Darden’s commitment to bring health and wellness to its menus started in the C-level suite, and was born out of a commitment to be a company that makes a difference. “Reducing sodium and calorie measures are important, but what’s exciting to me,” says Dolven, “is the change it has created within the organization. Now we’re talking about nutrition in conversations where before we might only have talked about cost or quality.”

Dolven leads a team of five people that does nutritional analysis for all the Darden brands to make sure guests have the options and information they need to make decisions that are right for them. “We work across the organization with the supply chain group, the culinary team, and the marketing and communications departments to bring healthier menus to our guests.”


Add new comment