Michael Holleman, Indian Harvest

Michael Holleman, director of culinary development for Indian Harvest, a producer and supplier of specialty grains, beans, legumes and blends for foodservice, received the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Atlanta-based Research Chefs Association (RCA) at the organization’s Annual Conference and Culinology Expo in San Antonio, Texas, on March 24.

The RCA’s Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to an individual who has achieved industry-wide recognition for his or her contributions to the field of Culinology.

The recipient must have significantly influenced the food industry and/or the consumer market throughout his or her career, must be a veteran in the food industry for at least 25 years, and should be generally recognized as an inspiration to others in the industry.

Granting of the Lifetime Achievement Award is at the discretion of the RCA board to determine if nominees meet the stated criteria, and is not necessarily granted each year. Harry Crane, immediate past president of the RCA and executive chef of the Kraft Culinary Center of Excellence, was responsible for receiving nominations and working with the RCA’s board to determine the award’s recipient.

“Michael Holleman practices what we advocate,” Crane says. “He represents the ‘sweet spot’ of who the RCA really is—a mover and shaker in the food-product-development/culinary world—while still being at the tactical/development level of our industry.”

As the latest RCA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Holleman joins the ranks of such notable honorees as celebrity chef and author Jacques Pepin (2004); Paul Prudhomme (2005), owner of chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends and K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen; and Robert Okura, CEC, CFBE (2008), vice president of culinary development and corporate executive chef of The Cheesecake Factory, Inc.

 “We couldn’t be more proud of chef Mike’s recognition by the Research Chefs Association, which is an incredible milestone,” says Trevor Duininck, vice president of Indian Harvest.

“As the leader of our experienced culinary team for many years, Mike has forged the way for innovative whole-grain solutions not only here at Indian Harvest, but in the industry as a whole. His passion for culinary excellence and the integrity he shares in bringing lesser-known grains to a wider market permeates our entire company.”

Tom Feldman, Tom Rhyneer, Columbia West Properties

Columbia West Properties(CWP), a Bellevue-based commercial real estate company, and its hospitality management division, Pineapple Hospitality, announce the hiring of Tom Feldman as internet marketing specialistand Tom Rhyneer as director of food and beverage.

Feldmanbrings more than 10 years of experience in the traditional and digital marketing industries. In his role as internet marketing specialist at CWP, Feldman is responsible for planning and executing digital marketing strategies for both CWP and Pineapple Hospitality through campaigns including social media integration, customer ratings and reviews, organic and paid SEO, as well as the website development, SEO and content management for Pineapple Hospitality’s four Seattle hotels.

Previously, Feldman served as founder and CEO of Determigene DNA Testing, a worldwide DNA testing broker. Feldman studied business MIS, computer science and dynamic website development at Washington State University. He is a native of Seattle and currently resides in Lake Forest Park with his wife, Lacie, and their two-year-old daughter, Paige.

As director of food and beverage at Pineapple Hospitality, Rhyneer is responsible for creating cohesive yet individual dining experiences at all Pineapple Hospitality hotels, including the re-brand and launch of the restaurant at Hotel FIVE and growth of Pineapple Café at Watertown Hotel, as well as all behind-the-house aspects of operation, culinary product and brand consistency.

Rhyneer comes to Pineapple Hospitality with more than 15 years of experience in the kitchens of many top restaurants in the U.S., most recently as executive chef at the International Hospitality Center at Miami Culinary Institute, where he managed the restaurant, café and catering for the first LEED-certified culinary school in the nation.

Rhyneer’s other culinary experience includes The Atlantic Hotel and Trina (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), Le Meridien Sunny Isles Beach (Sunny Isles Beach, Florida), The Diplomat Country Club & Spa (Hallandale Beach, Florida), Sorrento Hotel and Hunt Club Restaurant (Seattle), and Chandlers Crabhouse (Seattle).

Rhyneer is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina, and is a member of the American Culinary Federation. He resides in Seattle with his wife, Sandy, and their children Tayler and Lucas.

 Eric Stein, Jaime Mestan, Ed Miniat, Kendall College School of Culinary Arts

The team of Eric Stein, MS, RD, a chef-instructor at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts, and Jaime Mestan, CSC, a Kendall College culinary alum (‘08) and research chef at Ed Miniat, Inc., in South Holland, Illinois, took first place in the inaugural Professional Culinology Competition, March 23 in San Antonio, Texas, held in conjunction with the Research Chefs Association’s (RCA) Annual Conference and Culinology Expo.

Stein and Mestan beat two other teams, winning a gold medal and a $5,000 cash award with their entry of lobster paella bites, chicken and white bean empanadillas and loaded patatas bravas (a cherished potato tapa of Spain).

The competition, which was sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), called for entries to consist of three frozen heat-and-serve tapas suitable for serving in a casual restaurant chain.

Prior to the competition, each team shipped its frozen products to San Antonio. On competition day, each team created the fresh versions of its commercialized concepts and was judged in part against how well the plated, commercialized products matched up against the fresh gold standards.

A panel of culinary R&D experts judged entries against criteria that included originality of concept, nutritional profile, manufacturing feasibility, flavor, aroma, texture, presentation and safety standards.

The team of Stein and Mestan was announced as the winner at the RCA’s awards luncheon on March 24.

Following the announcement, Stein expressed a newfound appreciation for the role of chefs who work and create within two worlds—culinary arts and food science—the perfect melding of which results in satisfied diners and successful foodservice operators.

“Participating in this competition and attending the RCA conference really gave me a better understanding of the diversity within the field of Culinology,” he says.

The discipline of Culinology was pioneered by the Research Chefs Association with the organization’s founding in 1996. The RCA represents more than 2,000 members including chefs, food scientists, technologists, writers, nutritionists, academicians, researchers, consultants, sales and marketing professionals, suppliers, co-packers, distributors and students.

RCA is the premier source of culinary and technical information for the food industry and is committed to the advancement of Culinology—the blending of the culinary arts and food science. For more information, visit www.culinology.com.

Brian Krakower, California Pizza Kitchen

Restaurant Revolution Technologies, Inc. (RRT) (www.rrtusa.com), has named former vice president of information technology at California Pizza Kitchen, Brian Krakower, as the company’s chief technology officer.

RRT’s cloud-based order management solution empowers restaurant operators to provide their takeout customers with a consistently professional and delightful ordering experience where the customer never waits on hold, speaks to a friendly menu expert every time, and can be confident the order is accurate regardless of complexity. To restaurant operators, RRT delivers quantifiable financial value including:

  • Increased number of takeout orders by capturing the industry’s 30 percent of customers who drop off due to extended on hold times and gaining repeat orders through high customer satisfaction.
  • Increased check average by 15 to 20 percent by employing a conversational order taking process, which results in more upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
  • Reduced internal operational burdens and costs by enabling restaurant staff to focus exclusively on dine in customers.
  • Improved understanding of customer needs and wants by applying analytics from gathered customer ordering data.

Krakower brings more than 20 years executive leadership to RRT, as well as deep understanding for the inherent operational and technological frustrations both consumers and restaurant operators experience when trying to place and fulfill takeout orders of increasing volume and detail.

“Brian’s experience and laser focus applying technology to solve the often broken takeout order experience hits the mark perfectly,” comments Doug Kollus, 30-year restaurant industry veteran and CEO of Cabo Restaurant Group.

“With most consumers reporting they plan to dine in less often due to economic concerns, more restaurant operators are recognizing that takeout represents the fastest avenue for growth. As such, technology along with fine-tuning service formats, are becoming crucial to the operator strategy to answer the consumer call for speed, convenience, and accuracy.”

“I am excited to join RRT and be a part of the revolution it is creating through helping the entire restaurant industry capitalize on new revenue and consumer experience enhancing opportunities,” Krakower says.

“Restaurant takeout practices have been slow to evolve and have not taken advantage of technology or process advancements from related industries. As a result, there are huge opportunities for RRT to help operators improve customer service and realize additional profits by lowering costs and increasing sales.”

While at California Pizza Kitchen, Krakower became the first technology executive to implement an integrated software and telecom solution for phone-in takeout and delivery orders in more than 200 restaurants nationwide.

Previously, Krakower served in executive IT or key technical infrastructure positions at The Cheesecake Factory and The House of Blues Restaurants and Entertainment Company. Krakower holds a bachelor of science in mathematics from University of California, Riverside.

“We are pleased to welcome Brian to the RRT team,” says Brett Harman, RRT’s founder and president. “Where most of the restaurant industry views takeout as a distraction, we see opportunity to help operators grow their businesses while improving the restaurant experience for all their customers and employees. We look forward to Brian driving the innovations that will continue to bring this vision to life.”

Jeffrey Warne, Perkins & Marie Callender’s

After an extensive nationwide search, Perkins & Marie Callender’s, LLC, the nation’s pre-eminent family dining restaurant company, has selected Jeffrey Warne to serve as its CEO effective April 9, 2012. Warne will also serve as a member of the company’s board of managers.

Joseph “Jay” Trungale will be stepping down as CEO after eight years with the company.

“We are pleased to welcome Jeff to the company as its new chief executive officer,” says Joseph Deignan, chairman of the board. “Jeff is a strategic and seasoned executive with a strong financial acumen. The board looks forward to working with Jeff to further strengthen the company’s operations while taking the Perkins and Marie Callender’s brands to a higher level of performance.”

Warne has over 13 years of experience in casual dining, having served as the president and CEO of O’Charley’s Inc. and in numerous leadership roles with Carlson Companies, Inc., including president and COO of Pick Up Stix, executive vice presidentand COO of T.G.I. Friday’s International, and CFO of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide.

He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University. Warne is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) and a Chartered Financial Analyst.

“I have been given a tremendous opportunity,” Warne says. “Perkins and Marie Callender’s are superior brands with incredible potential. I am very excited to be joining the organization and look forward to working with the company’s executive team, the board, and the company’s employees and franchisees to continue to provide our guests personalized service and high quality food at a great value.”

Warne succeeds Jay Trungale who has been with Perkins since 2004. “Jay’s contributions to the company simply cannot be overstated. We are sincerely thankful for his steadfast leadership throughout the company’s restructuring and wish him all the best in his new endeavors,” says Deignan.


Trabon, a leading technology firm that helps companies better manage marketing and operational functions, announces new hires and promotions in its two service groups.

In response to its growing national web-to-print business, the marketing services group has added four new positions and promoted two customer service executives:

Bill Cooper joined Trabon as director of national accounts. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the printing technology industry. In his new role at Trabon, Cooper is responsible for business development, building long-term client relationships and expertly supporting the development of printing and technology solutions for nationally distributed marketing materials.

Cooper previously served as vice president of sales and account management for Arcata LLC, formerly known as MyPrint Corporation, a technology, print and fulfillment company. His office is near Los Angeles. Trabon now employs business development representatives in both California and Tennessee.

Andrew Barchers has been named director of national accounts. He brings more than 10 years of experience in sales and finance to his position at Trabon, where he is responsible for identifying national clients who can simplify corporate marketing functions with streamlined web-to-print solutions.

Barchers works with companies of all sizes to match their operational and budgetary requirements with Trabon’s integrated technology and print products.

Barchers earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from Rockhurst University. A Kansas City-area native, Barchers lives with his family in Gladstone.

Lori Sirotiak, a new account manager, has more than 18 years of marketing experience in the printing and advertising fields. Her areas of expertise include client relations, strategic planning and developing innovative solutions that meet customer needs while exceeding expectations.

Sirotiak, who lives in the Kansas City area, earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, marketing and business from the University of Iowa.

Colleen Standefer, another new account manager, is a proven marketer. She joins Trabon with more than six years of sales and marketing experience and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kansas. Raised in Overland Park, Standefer now lives in Prairie Village.

Both Standefer and Sirotiak provide the high level of customer service that clients expect from Trabon, oversee production management, and help to ensure the quality of the company’s products and services. Day-to-day, they estimate, plan and execute marketing print campaigns, and support web-to-print portals for Trabon’s national clients.

 The account managers report to Christy Trinkler, who Trabon recently promoted to director of client services. The company also promoted Carmen Hatch to director of technology systems. Trinkler and Hatch have been with Trabon for 10 and 12 years, respectively.

Trabon’s Strategic Technology Group announces the following promotion and new hire:

The company recently promoted Chris Schibi to vice president of consulting services. He joined Trabon in 2008. As one of Trabon’s practice leaders, Schibi works with clients to define new and innovative ways of using software to increase revenues and improve operations.

Bob Tharp joined Trabon as director of business development. He brings more than 25 years of business development, performance improvement and IT consulting experience to his new position.

Tharp is adept at identifying opportunities to grow revenue and improve profitability for clients in a variety of industries. He is responsible for helping clients drive competitive advantage through operational improvements, market differentiation and enhanced customer experiences. A Kansas State University graduate, Tharp holds a bachelor’s degree in business marketing.

“We’re fortunate to have these strong professionals on staff. They all have impressive experience establishing mutually beneficial relationships with clients by identifying their specific needs and helping them solve business challenges,” says Tim Trabon, CEO.




Industry News, Labor & Employees, California Pizza Kitchen, Perkins & Marie Callender’s