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Honoring Foodservice Professionals

Karlie Hart
Manager, Communications & Marketing

Hirst Hospitality Awards: Honoring Over 80 Foodservice Professionals From Around The State

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., November 9, 2021 — The Oklahoma Restaurant Association honored over 80 of Oklahoma’s top foodservice talent at the 22nd annual Hirst Hospitality Awards. 

The event took place at the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club in Nichols Hills on November 8. More than two hundred restaurant industry professionals attended celebrating the outstanding contributions of the 2021 Hirst Hospitality Awards honorees. 

Honorees were given a commemorative gift, and were also eligible for raffle prizes and cash awards. Additionally, a $1,000 prize was presented to Wayne Campbell from SERVEGROUP Food & Beverage Management Solutions. 

“Hard-working hospitality employees helped many restaurants survive the pandemic, and we had the privilege to honor many of them at the Hirst Hospitality Awards”, said Jim Hopper, President and CEO of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association. “These individuals serve as the driving force for our industry and without them, we would not be where we are today as Oklahoma’s hospitality industry walks down the road of recovery.”  

The proceeds from the Hirst Hospitality Awards, founded by Wayne Hirst, support the Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation. The funds go back into the restaurant community in the form of scholarships to students engaged in culinary, restaurant management, and hospitality-related studies. 

“The scholarship fund is a great way for the foundation to invest in the future of our most precious resource, hospitality professionals,” said Jimmy Mays, Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation Board Member and the Hirst Hospitality Awards Committee Chair. “As a former scholarship recipient myself, it is really satisfying to be able to provide these kinds of opportunities and see the process come full circle.” 

This past year, the Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation awarded $30,000 in scholarships to 12 students enrolled in either Oklahoma State University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program in Stillwater or Oklahoma State University’s Institute of Technology Culinary Arts program in Okmulgee. 

Antonio Cepeda, an OSU IT culinary arts senior and 2021 ORA scholarship recipient, said the scholarship meant he would not have to struggle financially in his last semester of college as he originally anticipated he would. Receiving the scholarship reinforced his belief that he is on the right career path knowing someone believes in him and has invested in his future, Cepeda said. 

The program, emceed by Dave Cathey, featured video presentations to honor an outstanding Oklahoma restaurant and hospitality industry individual and remember those the industry has lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Receiving the Distinguished Service Award was 36-year veteran of the industry, Scott Stillwell, of SERVEGROUP Food & Beverage Management Solutions.  

The ORA was most honored to feature Jean-Charles Boisset, a respected vintner from Zinfandel, CA, as the featured guest of the awards dinner. 

Partners included 110 Events; Ben E. Keith Foods Company; CFS Brands; Heartland; Premium Brands; Thirst Wine Merchants; US Foods; Bryan Close; Coca-Cola; McGregor Insurance Group; Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club; Republic National Distributing Company; and Southern Glazer’s of Oklahoma. 

Founded in 1933, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association is the trade association o¬f restaurants and foodservice operations, the state's largest private industry employer. Representing more than 4,000 restaurants and members, the ORA actively monitors legislation and regulatory agencies; helps foodservice management develop and strengthen business; and develops the membership to do together for the industry what cannot be done individually.


What's Happening
Join us August 17 & 18 at the Bennett Center for the 2022 ORA Expo! Don't miss the state's hospitality event of the year! For two days, industry professionals will join together for two efficient and effective days! Digital sales have become the norm but there is nothing more powerful than building relationships within our hospitality community! Click here to learn more!
On July 7 in OKC and July 19 in Tulsa join us for Odyssey de Culinaire! Odyssey de Culinaire is a fundraising and awareness dinner to benefit the Oklahoma ProStart® Program. This ever-popular event, which is open to the public, features 2 great evenings of dining with many of Tulsa and Oklahoma City's finest chefs being featured in their home cities. Each of the five courses features a chef mentoring a culinary student to treat attendees to an incredible five-course dinner. Experience an energetic evening and make an impact on culinary education in Oklahoma! Join us for one or both Odyssey de Culinaires - the Oklahoma Restaurant Association's only event open to the public!
The ORA 2022 Strategic Partnership and Marketing Program provides an “at a glance” annual review of ORA’s event calendar and marketing opportunities. It gives you the chance to plan in advance, allocate your marketing budget more effectively. Check out Key Club Partner status! For more information download your copy of the best hospitality marketing program around, or contact Patti Colley at or 405.942.8181.
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