2019 Hospitality Industry Awards


The New Mexico Restaurant Association is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s annual Hospitality Industry Awards. The winners were revealed at the Hospitality Industry Awards dinner, which was held at the Isleta Resort and Casino on September 16. Over 400 individuals attended the event, which is dedicated to recognizing excellence in the hospitality industry.

Manager of the Year

John Cuviello – La Fonda on the Plaza

Chef of the Year

Dominic Valenzuela – Dia de los Takos

Restaurateur of the Year

Fernando Olea – Sazon

NEIGHBOR of the Year

Brianna Dennis – NMRA & CNM

The highest honor a restaurateur can achieve in New Mexico is Restaurateur of the Year. New Mexico is home to such a great variety of restaurants that it is difficult to choose a winner each year. Fernando Olea of Sazon was recognized as the 2019 restaurateur of the year

The Chef of the Year award is given to recognize chefs who provide excellent cuisine as well as excellent service. Dominic Valenzuela of Dia de los Takos was honored as Chef of the Year for 2019

The Manager of the Year recognizes outstanding managers who are the team leaders in a restaurant establishment. This year’s recipient is John Cuviello of La Fonda.

Restaurants are strong supporters of the communities in which they reside. Nine out of ten restaurants contribute to a community service project or fundraiser on a regular basis. The Restaurant Neighbor Award honors a restaurant that is a good neighbor in their area and has had a significant impact on the community. This year’s recipient was Brianna Dennis of NMRA & CNM.

2019 Prostart Winners

Teacher of the Year

Anthony Sapian – Gadsden High School

Management winner

Taos High School

Aedin  Miller, Jordan Montoya, Makayla Montoya, Miel Tafoya

Instructor: Benjie Apodaca

culinary winner

Deming High School

Lisa Klockgether, Gordo Martinez, Emily Wertz

Instructor: Genevieve Wertz

The New Mexico ProStart Program is a high school curriculum that teaches culinary, management and hospitality education in 36 high schools in New Mexico. Students completing the program have trained for over 400 hours and are well-equipped to enter the workforce in the hospitality industry. Taos High was recognized as the winner for the management competition for the second year in a row. For the culinary competition,  Deming High School was recognized as the winner. The 2019 winner of the Hospitality Cup, the school with the best score combined in the culinary and management competitions, is Taos High School.

The 2019 ProStart Teacher of the year is Anthony Sapian of Gadsden High.

Recipients of Hospitality Industry Education Foundation (HIEF) scholarships were also recognized at the dinner. HIEF awarded $14,000 in scholarships to nine students pursuing a career in hospitality this year.

Photos of the event, photos of the winners, and more details on the winners are available upon request to NMRA at 505-343-9848

2019-20 NMRA Board

Our new president, chairman and executive committee of the NMRA Board of Directors was installed at our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, September 17th.  NMRA’s board consists of restaurant owners, operators, and vendors who share a love of the industry and a commitment to its future.  We are lucky to have their commitment and thank them for their support.

The 2019-2020 Executive Committee is:

  • Chairman: Wayne Moore- D.H Lescombes
  • President: Jorge Brasil-Laguna Development Corp
  • Treasurer: Sam Gerberding-Inn of the Governors
  • Secretary: Russell Hernandez-Salud! de Mesilla
  • Associate Vice President: Bill Focke-Shamrock Foods

The 2019-2020 Board of Directors is: Gene Baca-Bueno Foods, Janie Balzano-Trinity Hotel & Restaurant, Chris Christy, Marie Coleman-Church Street Cafe, Matt DiGregory-The Range Cafe, George Gundrey-Tomasita’s Restaurant, Jerry Harrell-Double Eagle de Mesilla, Todd Hickman-Ben E. Keith Foods, Jason Hooter-Sysco, Tom Hutchinson-La Posta de Mesilla, Florence Jaramillo-Rancho de Chimayo, Lawrence Joy-Pecos Valley Pizza/Dominos Team NM, Randy Kenna-Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ, Laura Leal-Leal’s Mexican Food, Ed Linderman-Village Inn/Applebees Grill & Bar, Al Lucero-Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Nick Nellos-Ragin Shrimp Inc., Fernando Olea-Sazon Restaurant, Minerva Paez-Casa Chimayo Restaurant, Mark Vigil-Mark’s Restaurant

Contact Us

If you have questions about the webinar or information provided on this page, we are here to serve you, our members. Call 1-505-343-9848 or fill out your contact information and we will get back to you soon.

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