Manager of the Year

Santo Militello – Vernon’s Speakeasy

Chef of the Year

Fernando Olea – Sazón

Restaurateur of the Year

Lawrence & Suzanne Becerra – Spinning Plates Group

NEIGHBOR of the Year

Matt DiGregory – Range Café

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. Lawrence & Suzanna Becerra – Spinning Plates Group were recognized as the 2022 Restaurateur of the Year.

The Chef of the Year award is given to recognize chefs who provide excellent cuisine as well as excellent service. Fernando Olea – Sazón was honored as Chef of the Year for 2022.

The Manager of the Year recognizes outstanding managers who are the team leaders in a restaurant establishment. This year’s recipient is Santo Militello – Vernon’s Speakeasy.

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 Matt DiGregory – Range Café.

2022 Prostart Winners

culinary winner

Carlsbad High School

Miriam Bowen, Anthony Chiri, and Mariah Echavarria

Team Manager: Max Vasquez

Instructor: Kevin Zink

Teacher of the Year

Adam Median – Taos High School

Management winner

Chaparral High School

Ana Reza, Natalie Rodriguez-Lira, and Miguel Ruan

Instructor: Veronica Garcia

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. Chaparral High was recognized as the winner for the management competition for the second year in a row. For the culinary competition,  Carlsbad High School was recognized as the winner. The 2022 winner of the Hospitality Cup, the school with the best score combined in the culinary and management competitions, is Taos High School.

The 2022 ProStart Teacher of the year is Adam Medina of Carlsbad High School.

Recipients of Hospitality Industry Education Foundation (HIEF) scholarships were also recognized at the dinner. HIEF awarded $7,500 in scholarships to three 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

2022-23 NMRA Board

Our new president, chairman and executive committee of the NMRA Board of Directors were installed at our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, November 15. 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 2022-2023 Executive Committee is:

  • Chairman: Russell Hernandez- Salud! de Mesilla
  • President: Laura Leal – Leal’s Mexican Food
  • Treasurer: George Gundrey – Tomasita’s
  • Secretary: Michael Calhoun, Red River Brewing Company
  • Associate Vice President: Kristina Elias, US Foods

The 2022-2023 Board of Directors is:

Jorge Brasil – Laguna Development Corp, Marie Coleman – Church Street Café, Randy Kenna – Rudy’s Country Store & Bar B Q, Chris Zalesiak – Burger 21/ The Melting Pot, Matt DiGregory – The Range Cafe, Janie Balzano – Trinity Hotel & Restaurant, Florence Jaramillo – Rancho de Chimayo, Tom Martin – Taco Box, Javier Sanchez – La Cocin, Ed Linderman – Village Inn/Corner Bakery, Jerry Harrell – Double Eagle de Mesilla, Tom Hutchinson – La Posta de Mesilla, Janice Argabright – Owl Bar & Café, John Cuviello – Rosewood Inn at Anasazi, Al Lucero – Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Fernando Olea – Sazon Restaurant, Rick Pedram – Santa Fe Dining, Diane Barrett – Diane’s Restaurant, Gene Baca, Gene – Bueno Foods, Kristina Elias – US Foods, Todd Hickam – Ben E Keith Foods, Jay Larsen – Shamrock Foods, Jeremy Padilla – Sysco

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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