Urban Expositions Announces Recipients of the Prestigious Torch Award to Be Presented by Master Chef Ferdinand Metz

SHELTON, CT — (Marketwired) — 06/21/16 — The Torch Award, which recognizes an individual or group of Chefs or Restaurateurs whose achievements have enhanced and brought innovation to the restaurant and foodservice community, will be presented to renowned Chef Thomas Keller at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and to Chef Melissa Kelly at The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, respectively. Ferdinand Metz, Certified Master Chef, former President of the Culinary Institute of America for more than 20 years, and Chairman of the Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum will present the awards.

“On behalf of Urban Expositions, producers of both the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and Florida Restaurant & Lodging Shows, we are excited and honored to present the Torch Award to two innovative chefs whose commitment to delivering the best food and experience to their customers continues to drive the industry forward,” said Ron Mathews, Vice President for the Urban Expositions Family of Foodservice Events. “We are thrilled to work with Master Chef Metz to recognize the career and achievements of Thomas Keller and Melissa Kelly, who join an esteemed list of previous Torch Award Winners, including Drew Nieporent, founder of the Myriad Restaurant Group; Norman van Aken, Chef and Founder of NORMAN’S; and Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Chefs and Owners of Border Grill & Truck.”

Thomas Keller, renowned chef and proprietor of The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, which includes The French Laundry and Per Se, both of which hold three-star Michelin ratings, will receive the Torch Award during the upcoming Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo on Monday, August 29th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Keller started his culinary career at a young age, working at a restaurant in Palm Beach. In 1983, Keller moved to France where he was able to work in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants including Guy Savoy and Taillevent. In 1986, he opened his first restaurant in New York City called Rakel. Keller then moved to the west coast, becoming the Executive Chef at the Checkers Hotel in Los Angeles. In 1994, he took ownership of The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California and opened Per Se in 2004 in Manhattan. He has also opened Bouchon, Bar Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, and Ad Hoc + Addendum, and has sold more than one million copies of his books.

Melissa Kelly, Executive Chef and Proprietor of Primo in Rockland, Maine, which was named one of the top 20 most important restaurants in America by Bon Appetit magazine, will be receiving the Torch Award during the upcoming Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL. Kelly graduated first in her class at the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York. Following graduation, Kelly started at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, where she would be chosen as an assistant to the Greenbrier Cooking School. Kelly’s restaurant, Primo, was first opened in 2002 and introduced many diners across the East Coast to the idea of farm-to-table, with up to 80% of ingredients coming from the restaurant’s own four-acre farm. Kelly partnered with J.W. Marriott Hotels in 2003 to open satellite Primo restaurants at the Grande Lakes Resort in Orlando, Florida and at the Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Arizona. Primo received the Grand Award for Restaurant of the Year by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, and in 2013 was the first ever two-time recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef, Northeast.