OCH CoverOn-Campus Hospitality



Congratulations, Ken!


As we were putting the finishing touches on last month's issue, news broke that Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), was named the winner of the 2013 Silver Plate Award from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) in the colleges and universities category.

While we were able to report the news in our Around the Campus section last month, we would be remiss in not taking the time to congratulate Ken on this well-deserved accomplishment on this page.

As seen on the pages of On-Campus Hospitality, Ken is always willing to share his experiences as a director with his peers. He is a believer in putting students first, and has helped to change the perception of campus dining to the public. UMass Dining is one of the most admired programs in all of college and university dining, having recently been recognized as number three in the 2013 Princeton Review for Best Campus Food.

Whether it is opening the latest state-of-the-art dining hall, organizing a Guinness World Record sushi roll, stir-fry or seafood stew, launching one of the first successful food trucks on a college campus, or planting a permaculture garden (for which UMass Dining was honored at the White House), Ken is always at the forefront of higher education food service.

He is always in search of the latest in culinary trends, as can be attested to by his Facebook friends, or anyone who follows his blog posts on the UMass Dining web site. During school breaks, Ken often travels to locales across the globe, posting pictures of great food as he goes, and oftentimes meeting with the world's greatest culinary minds.

It is certainly appropriate that we recognize Ken in this issue, the issue that will be distributed at the 19th Annual Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. As creator, chair and founder of the conference, he has brought many of the latest trends and techniques — and those culinary minds — to thousands of chefs in college and university food service.

While at press time the Gold Plate winner had not yet been announced — the winner will be named during the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago, Ill. — it wouldn't be a surprise if such a deserving candidate as Ken is chosen to join Tim Dietzler and Mary Molt as recent Gold Plate recipients from the college and university category.

He is a great example of what an innovative foodservice professional should be.