Josie Jensen

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July 18, 2019

Iowa Restaurant Association Announces First 40 “Women to Watch” in Hospitality List

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July 18, 2019
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July 18, 2019 (Des Moines, Iowa) — The Iowa Restaurant Association today released its inaugural 40 “Women to Watch” in Hospitality List. The honorees hail from nearly every segment and function in the industry-from purveyors and entrepreneurs, to chefs and business development professionals. More than 100 nominations were submitted from across the state. All showcased women in Iowa’s hospitality industry who are blazing new trails, leading by example, or impressing their peers, customers and managers daily.
The 2019 List includes: (Photos Available Upon Request)
·      Alexis Lundgren, Trackside Bar & Grill, Peosta
·      Chef Allie Lanham, Caucho, Cedar Rapids
·      Ana McClain, Lion Bridge Brewing Company, Cedar Rapids
·      Anne Audo, Sysco Iowa, Iowa City
·      Chef Austina Smith, Grand Living at Bridgewater, Coralville
·      Blanca Plascencia, El Fogon, West Des Moines
·      Brittany Quaid, Pullman Bar & Diner, Iowa City
·      Cassandra Rodish, Fuel’d Café, Des Moines
·      Christina Moffatt, Crème Cupcake + Dessert, Des Moines
·      Cindy Bosley, BozWellz Pub and Eaterie, Storm Lake
·      Darian Everding, London Underground, Ames
·      Fabiola Carlin, Panka Peruvian Restaurant, Des Moines
·     Faye Swift, Big Grove Brewery/BlackStone/Pullman Bar & Grill/Reds Alehouse, Iowa City/North Liberty/Solon
·      Gwen Page, Fong’s Pizza, Des Moines
·      Hanna Burkle, Rolling Smoke Barbeque, Pleasant Hill
·      Jamie Skinner, Molly’s Cupcake’s, Iowa City & Des Moines
·      Joni Bell, Great Caterers of Iowa, Inc., Pleasant Hill
·      Chef Julie Schoenherr, SoHo Kitchen & Bar, Sioux City
·      Chef Karla Boetel, Iowa Culinary Institute at DMACC, Ankeny
·      Karla Walsh, Food and Life Style Writer, Des Moines
·      Kate Willer, Bubba Southern Comforts, Des Moines
·      Katie Greenfield, Jefferson County Ciderworks, Fairfield
·      Chef Kerri Rush, Fresh Café & Market, Carlilse
·      Krista Kay, Go Fish Marina Bar & Grill, Princeton
·      Lauren Doll-Sheeder, Doll Distributing, Des Moines
·      Linda Funk, The Soyfoods Council, Ankeny
·      Lindsey Wallace, Pete’s Thai Kitchen, Dubuque
·      Chef Lisa LaValle, Trellis Café, Des Moines
·      Liz Ramey, Gilroy’s Kitchen + Pub + Patio, West Des Moines
·      Chef Lorraine Williams, Café Dodici, Washington
·      Martha McAninch, Gusto Pizza Company, Des Moines
·      Michelle Booth, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, West Des Moines
·      Natasha Sayles, Winefest Des Moines, Des Moines
·      Sara Hill, The Hare and The Hound, Earlham
·      Sarah Pritchard, Table 128 Bistro and Bar, Clive
·      Sneh Chopra, Melting Bite, Cedar Rapids
·      Stacy Wertzberger, Iowa State University, Ames
·      Stephanie Sellers, Baked Beer & Bread Company, Davenport
·      Taylor Weiss, Crème Cupcake + Dessert, Des Moines
·      Chef Terrie Kohl, Country Club Market, Carlilse
Honorees will be featured in the Summer issue of Food and Beverage Iowa Business Quarterly. In addition, a synopsis of each woman’s industry story will be launched on the Iowa Restaurant Association website on August 1st. The honorees will be recognized in person in a display at the Iowa Hospitality Expo on November 18, 2019 at the Iowa Events Center, as well as recognized at the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Annual Awards Ceremony and celebratory reception that day.
“Women are building meaningful careers in every segment of the restaurant industry and the numbers back that up. 58% of foodservice supervisors and 49% of foodservice managers are women, far above the averages in nearly every other industry,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “From restaurant ownership, to full-time sales and management, to flexible hour part-time positions, women are charting their own paths in the hospitality sector.”
Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation
The Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization. It is the leading education resource for the development of a professional and highly-skilled hospitality workforce in the state of Iowa, building connections between educational entities and industry employers seeking trained, qualified students and job candidates.
Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association protects, promotes and educates Iowa’s hospitality industry.
Media Contact:
Josephine Jensen
Public Relations Specialist
jjensen@restaurantiowa.com
319-464-0766
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May 1, 2019

Mother’s Day is the Most Popular Holiday to Dine Out

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May 1, 2019
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May 2, 2019 – West Des Moines, IA – Don’t wait to make your restaurant reservations. Mother’s Day surpasses even Valentine’s Day as the most popular holiday on which to dine out according to research from the Iowa Restaurant Association. In fact, nearly half of moms would pick a favorite restaurant as the place to celebrate Mother’s Day. Not sure what to include with that card? “There’s really no need to worry about how to celebrate the moms in your life,” said Jessica Dunker, Iowa Restaurant Association president and CEO. “Moms love restaurants. Not only do restaurants provide a much-deserved reprieve from cooking at home, they also provide a celebratory atmosphere.”  Restaurant gift cards and certificates are also a top gift pick for moms, with one in five saying this is their preferred gift. Dunker noted that it is important to get on top of making Mother’s Day restaurant reservations. “It’s not too soon to make reservations regardless of the meal you’re planning to celebrate,” said Dunker.  Fifty-five percent of Mother’s Day diners will go out to a restaurant for dinner, 34 percent lunch, 30 percent brunch, and 12 percent for breakfast.  In addition, one in five Mother’s Day diners (23 percent) will go out for more than one meal that day. Atmosphere is also an important factor because children are a major part of the mix when dining out on Mother’s Day. Two-thirds of those dining out on Mother’s Days this year will have children under the age of 18 in their party.

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Iowa Restaurant Association The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s hospitality industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.  www.restaurantiowa.com.   Media Contact: Josephine Jensen Public Relations Specialist 515-276-1454 jjensen@restaurantiowa.com  
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April 30, 2019

Ames Bartender Named Iowa’s Next Top Mixologist

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April 30, 2019
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Des Moines, IA – Friday, April 26, 2019 – Ninetop mixologists from across Iowa were invited to compete at the Iowa Restaurant Association’s State Mixology Championships held April 25that Smash Park in West Des Moines. Ames Mixologist Ryan Jeffrey from Arcadia Cafe was named this year’s champion.Competitors created three cocktails for a panel of judges during the day and were judged on taste, appearance, overall creativity and personality. In the evening the public was invited to sample and vote their favorite. Jeffrey’s Ruby Yacht Cocktail, a smooth mix of grapefruit & rose vodka with blood orange juice and pomegranate molasses, gave him the edge over his competitors as he poured his way to the winner’s circle. Runner-up Steve Kotsianis from Jethros in Des Moines also impressed judges with his Breakfast at Bardstown, a surprising mix which was served with a waffle and candied bacon. Brandon Skinner from Uptown Food & Beverage Co., in Ankeny, won the People’s Choice Award with his signature cocktail Mint Condition. “The talent, innovation and flavor profiles presented by Iowa’s mixology contenders impressed the judges and public,” said Director of Marketing and Association Development for the IRA, Stacy Kluesner.“It is a great season to go out and explore Iowa’s mixology scene.” The competition featured spirits from Sazerac and Diageo.   Competing Restaurants/Bars: Jake Humburg-Whiskey House, Ankeny Carl Busch-7 Hills Brewing Company, Dubuque Darian Everding-London Underground, Ames Steve Kotsianis-Jethro’s Bacon Bacon, West Des Moines Chase Lihs-Splash Seafood Bar & Grill, Des Moines Ryan Jeffrey-Arcadia Café, Ames Brandon Skinner-Uptown Food & Beverage Co., Ankeny Tanner Nygard-Smash Park, West Des Moines Jon Sladek-St. Burch Tavern, Iowa City ### Iowa Restaurant Association The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s industry with educational and promotional programs across the state. www.restraurantiowa.com Media Contact: Josephine Jensen Public Relations Specialist Iowa Restaurant Association jjensen@restaurantiowa.com 515-276-1454  
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April 15, 2019

Iowa Restaurant Association Will Name State’s Top Mixologist April 25th

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April 15, 2019
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Des Moines, IA – Tuesday, April 16, 2019 –The Iowa Restaurant Association will be hosting their annual State Mixology Championships at Smash Park in West Des Moines on April 25th. Competitors will create three cocktails for a panel of judges during the day and will be judged on taste, appearance, overall creativity and personality. The winner will be crowned Iowa’s Top Mixologist. A public tasting event will follow from 6-8pm. Attendees can sample the competition drinks and vote for the People’s Choice winner. Food samples will also be available and live music from Brian Congdon. Spirits will be sponsored by Sazerac Spirits and Diageo. Tickets are available at restaurantiowa.com. Competing Restaurants/Bars: Whiskey House, Ankeny 7 Hills Brewing Company, Dubuque London Underground, Ames Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, Des Moines Jethro’s Bacon Bacon, West Des Moines Fong’s Pizza, Cedar Rapids Splash Seafood Bar & Grill, Des Moines Arcadia Café, Ames Uptown Food & Beverage Co., Ankeny  

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Iowa Restaurant Association The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s industry with educational and promotional programs across the state. www.restraurantiowa.com   Media Contact: Josephine Jensen Public Relations Specialist Iowa Restaurant Association jjensen@restaurantiowa.com 515-276-1454
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April 10, 2019

Iowa Restaurant Association Seeking Nominations to Recognize the Contributions of Women in the Hospitality Industry

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April 10, 2019
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Tuesday, April 9, 2019 – Des Moines, IA – The Iowa Restaurant Association will recognize 40 women  in Iowa’s hospitality industry for their creativity, leadership and contributions. Nominations can be made online at restaurantiowa.com and will be accepted until
May 15, 2019 at 5pm.
“Sixty-one percent of women have worked in a restaurant at some point in their lives,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “We are excited to celebrate women influencing every aspect of foodservice by recognizing those who are doing great things and building lifelong careers. From operations and human resource managers to servers, chefs and owners, women are making a huge impact at every level.”
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Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association provides advocacy, education and promotional support to Iowa’s restaurant and tavern industry. www.restaurantiowa.com
Media Contact:
Josephine Jensen
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March 28, 2019

Seven Award-Winning Central Iowa Chefs Prepare

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March 28, 2019
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Des Moines, IA – Thursday, March 28, 2019 –Fine wine and cuisine connoisseurs can experience several of the greater Des Moines area’s most popular restaurants while relishing a 360⁰ view of downtown Des Moines at the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Culinary Affair, Sunday, April 7 at 5:30 pm at the Des Moines Embassy Club. This gourmet wine dinner will be presented by 7 of Iowa’s Top Chefs. All 7 courses will be specially paired with fine wine from E. & J. Gallo Winery and our center of the plate is sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers.A portion of the auction proceeds will support the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation as well as numerous scholarship and educational programs for High School and post-secondary students. Tickets are limited and available atwww.restaurantiowa.comor 515-276-1454. Chef List
  • Hors d’oeuvres: State Culinary Champions Hampton-Dumont High School ProStart Students with DMACC Chef Mentors: John Andres, Dean Luttrell, Austin Bailey and Logan Lumley
  • Soup:Chef Zach Gaskel, Teddy Maroon’s, Des Moines
  • Salad:Chef George Migliero, G. Migs 5thStreet Pub, West Des Moines
  • Fish:Chef David Baruthio, Baru 66, Windsor Heights & Nomad Restaurant, Des Moines
  • Intermezzo:Chef Jesse Bryant, Bubba, Des Moines
  • Entrée:Chef Shawn Bennigsdorf, Aposto, Des Moines
  • Dessert:Chef Holly Evans, Crème Cupcake + Dessert, Des Moines

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Iowa Restaurant Association The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state. Media Contact: Josephine Jensen Public Relations Specialist Iowa Restaurant Association jjensen@restaurantiowa.com 515-276-1454  
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March 28, 2019

Hampton-Dumont and Des Moines Central Campus to Represent Iowa in National Culinary and Restaurant Competition in Washington D.C.

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March 28, 2019
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February 28, 2019 – Des Moines, IA –Culinary and restaurant management students from Hampton-Dumont and Des Moines Central Campus were crowned the 2019 Iowa ProStart Invitational Champions. They competed with high school students from across the state in an event hosted by the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation. The invitational was held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Tuesday, February 26. The teams could compete in both culinary and restaurant management events. The winners of both categories will represent Iowa in Washington D.C., on May 8-10 when they face off against winning teams from across the country for the national title as well as for scholarships. “Top Chef” Style Culinary Competition Culinary teams were given 60 minutes to prepare a three-course meal using only two butane burners. Teams then presented their dishes to a panel of industry professional judges to taste and critique. Their cooking techniques, knife skills, sanitation and teamwork were also evaluated. Winners of the culinary competition included: 1stplace- Hampton-Dumont 2ndplace- Waterloo West High School 3rdplace- Davenport Community Schools Management Competition Management teams were challenged to create an original restaurant concept. They wrote business proposals and then pitched their concepts to a panel of Iowa restaurant industry professionals who posed as potential investors and judged their business plans, teamwork, presentation skills and critical thinking abilities. Winners of the management competition included: 1stplace- Des Moines Central Campus 2ndplace – Hampton-Dumont 3rdplace – Davenport Community Schools ProStart – Equal Parts Hands-On Culinary Training and Entrepreneurial Education ProStart® is a nationwide, career and technical education program that develops high school students into tomorrow’s leaders and workforce. Similar to the AP model in other academic areas, it includes national certification exams, grants post-secondary credits and an industry-recognized credential. It’s equal parts entrepreneurial/management education and hands-on culinary arts training. ProStart students learn practical skills, build business savvy, and develop leadership abilities in the classroom so they can walk into the real world ready to make an impact in the hospitality industry and beyond.

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Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation (IRAEF) The IRAEF is the leading education resource for the development of a professional and highly-skilled hospitality workforce in the state of Iowa, building connections between educational entities and industry employers seeking trained, qualified students and job candidates. Media Contact: Josephine Jensen Public Relations Specialist Iowa Restaurant Association 319-464-0766 jjensen@restaurantiowa.com  
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December 28, 2018

Shayna Watts, Assistant Manager at Fresh Mediterranean Express Receives State Award for Going Above and Beyond for her Company

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December 28, 2018
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Des Moines, IA- Oct 11 – On Monday October 8th, Shayna Watts, assistant manager at Fresh Mediterranean Express, was awarded the 2018 Restaurant Employee of the Year Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association for her passion and commitment to Fresh Mediterranean Express. Watts was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies. The restaurant industry has always been a “happy place” for Watts. She remembers being 5-years-old and accompanying her step-father to the Sonic Drive-in he managed in Texas. Watts recalls feeling that everyone truly wanted to be helpful and that taking care of customers was the top priority. That commitment to customer care stuck with Shayna, who took that same positive attitude with her to work in restaurants in Texas, Arizona, and finally Iowa restaurants.  In 2014, Shayna started with Fresh Mediterranean Express in Waukee.  She was quickly promoted to Team Lead and then to Assistant Manager. According to owner Hassan Atarmal, Watts is an integral part of the restaurant’s success and is always going above and beyond what it expected. Watts is a natural leader and is always challenging co-workers to be the best they can be. Even the restaurants’ owners credit her from pushing them to improve and seek new ways to positively impact the restaurant’s success. A video showcasing Watts can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com. Iowa Restaurant Association The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state. Media Contact: Josephine Jensen Public Relations Specialist jjensen@restaurantiowa.com 319-464-0766
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December 28, 2018

Cedar Rapids Teacher Wins Statewide Award

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December 28, 2018
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Des Moines, IA- Oct 11 – On Monday October 8th, Joan Stekl, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Cedar Rapids Washington High School, was awarded the 2018 ProStart Educator of Excellence Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Stekl was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies. ProStart is a career and technical education program which offers students four semesters of restaurant management and culinary arts education.  Students must complete a 400 hour internship, exhibit competency in more than 60 culinary techniques, and take two standard exams to earn their ProStart Certificate.  With that certificate they can receive up to 15 hours credit at many culinary schools across the state. Stekl helped introduce the ProStart program to the Cedar Rapids school district.  She uses traditional classroom teaching methods but has also secured other unique hands on culinary experiences for her students with major foodservice distributors and award-winning chefs. Her students have collaborated with a Cedar Rapids chef to prepare the hors d’oeuvres at fundraising events, attended professional development seminars and competed in state competitions. A video showcasing Stekl can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com. Iowa Restaurant Association The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state. Media Contact: Josephine Jensen Public Relations Specialist jjensen@restaurantiowa.com 319-464-0766
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December 28, 2018

Big Grove Executive Chef Named Iowa Restaurant Association Restaurateur of the Year

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December 28, 2018
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Des Moines, IA- Oct 10 – On Monday October 10th, Chef Benjamin Smart, Executive Chef and Partner at Big Grover Brewery, Pullman Bar & Diner and St. Burch Tavern, in Iowa City was awarded the 2018 Restaurateur of the Year Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association.  Smart was nominated by a customer and chosen for his commitment and dedication to the restaurant community in Eastern Iowa. He was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies. Smart always knew he was not cut out for a desk job. He earned his geoscience degree from University of Iowa with that thought in mind. From the time he was a child, he loved cooking and had a fascination with the chefs on television, specifically the program “Great Chefs, Great Cities” on PBS. Smart couldn’t deny his draw to the restaurant industry. One night when he was out with his wife she told Smart that he was not stuck on one path and encouraged him to go cook. This was the nudge he needed to truly start his journey down the culinary path The Iowa City native earned his culinary degree from Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids. He worked in several local restaurants—meeting many of his future business partners. He spent time in Kansas City working with James Beard winning, Chef Celina Tio, in the fine dining American Restaurant. In 2013 he received a call from Big Grove partner Doug Goettsch that brought him back to Iowa. Goetsch wanted an Iowa chef to open the Solon restaurant. Smart made the leap and helped establish the small-town brew pub as a culinary destination. Even as an owner, Chef Smart is never far from a kitchen and continues to hone his craft and encourages his team to do the same. A video showcasing Smart can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com. Iowa Restaurant Association The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state. Media Contact: Josephine Jensen Public Relations Specialist jjensen@restaurantiowa.com 319-464-0766