The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is pleased to announce this year’s Restaurateurs of the Year, Hall of Fame Inductees, Associate Member and Advocate of the Year. The honorees will be recognized at the Five Star Futures Gala, Saturday, August 2, 2014, 6:30 p.m. in the Napoleon Ballroom, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, an event benefiting the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF).
The 2014 Restaurateurs of the Year are Peter Sclafani and Ruffin Rodrigue of Ruffino’s Restaurants in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Ruffino’s is a collaborative effort between Rodrigue, a former LSU lineman, and Sclafani, a New Orleans-native third generation chef. Ruffino’s has extended their brand with Ruffino’s on the River in Lafayette and recently added an expanded focus on group business by opening Ruffino’s at De La Ronde Hall in downtown Baton Rouge. Sclafani serves on the LRA Education Foundation Board, LRA Board, is Baton Rouge Chapter president and is an advocate for the LRAEF ProStart Program. Sclafani and Rodrigue are great philanthropists in the Baton Rouge community supporting numerous fundraising activities for civic and non-profit endeavors.
The 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees are the Marino Family of Gino’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge. Each year, the LRA recognizes a member who has given faithful, dedicated and outstanding service to the association by inducting him or her into the LRA Hall of Fame. This year, the Marino Family will be inducted. Gino’s Restaurant has been a staple of the Baton Rouge restaurant community for nearly 50 years, established in 1966 by Vincent, Grace aka “Mama,” Gino, Laurence and Frances. The Marino family originated in Agrigento, Sicily and immigrated to the United States in 1951. With the exception of patriarch Vincent, who passed in 1970, Gino’s remains 100 percent family owned and operated. From its first day in operation, the kitchen has been supervised by “Mama,” now in her 90s and Gino likes to say “she comes with the furniture.” Mama was honored as a 2014 inductee into the Baton Rouge Business Report Hall of Fame.
The 2014 Associate Member of the Year is Mickey Freiberg, Sales Manager of Capitol City Produce. The Associate Member of the Year award recognizes restaurant industry suppliers who display exceptional dedication to and support of the LRA. Freiberg is a member of the LRA Board of Directors and also serves on the LRA Baton Rouge Chapter Board of Directors. Through Freiberg’s LRA involvement, Capitol City Produce has exhibited in the LRA’s Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO for more than 24 years, supported the LRAEF’s ProStart Program and numerous LRA Chapter fundraising activities and events.
The 2014 Advocate of Year is Representative Erich Ponti, District 69, and chair of the Louisiana House Commerce Committee. The Advocate of the Year is presented to recognize an individual who has supported the advocacy efforts of the LRA and its partner industries. Representative Ponti is a contractor and has worked closely with the LRA Advocacy team to promote good public policy that benefits our industry.
The Five Star Futures Gala will also recognize 30 culinary and hospitality recipients who will be presented with $61,000 from the LRAEF Scholarship Fund. The fund was established in 2009 to assist individuals in pursuit of their culinary arts and restaurant management college level education. To date, the LRAEF Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships to nearly 80 students.
The 2014 LRA Education Foundation Board of Directors would like to thank the Gala Sponsors—Ben E. Keith Co., Crescent Crown Distributing, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, MMI/Mr. Mudbug Catering, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Reinhart Food Service, Sysco Food Services New Orleans and TLC Linen Services. Special thanks to LRAEF Annual Partners—Five Diamond: Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association and Louisiana Seafood. Four Diamond: Performance Foodservice-Caro. Three Diamond: ATMOS Energy, Camellia Brand, Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. Two Diamond—Louisiana Gas Association, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s “Sea of Hope,” and Whole Foods Market. One Diamond—Entergy.