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  • 11 Apr 2014 4:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Vidalia, Georgia, USA (April 11, 2014) - The ten Georgia chefs who will compete in the 3rd Annual Golden Onion have revealed their recipes. An impressive range of cooking skills and techniques will be on display as the dishes are prepared during the professional cooking competition. Each competitor will have one hour to prepare his or her dish.

    Golden Onion showcases the Vidalia® onion, Georgia’s official state vegetable, and also serves as a platform for chefs across Georgia to display their skills and creativity. It will be held on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Vidalia, Ga., during the 37th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival.

    Chef Costanzo Astarita, executive chef at Baraonda Ristorante & Bar in Atlanta, will prepare “Georgia shrimp Vidalia® onion remoulade, chickpea Vidalia pancake, Vidalia® onion fennel slaw, and Vidalia® onion ginger oil.”

    Chef Jennifer Booker, owner and executive chef of Your Resident Gourmet in Lilburn, will prepare “Vidalia® onion, wild mushroom and gruyere tartlets.”

    Chef Brian Justice, chef and owner of Tasteful Temptations Café in Brunswick, who was awarded second place during the 2nd annual Golden Onion competition, will prepare “pan-seared ahi tuna on a bed of pickled Vidalia® onions and fresh ginger topped with avocado aioli and thin-sliced Vidalia® onion sprouts served with a baby green bundle wrapped with a cucumber sash on top of a red pepper emulsion, dressed with Vidalia® onion and Georgia peanut dressing and garnished with soy foam, sesame and wasabi crusted pecans, and crispy sweet Vidalia tobacco onions.”

    Chef Pano Karatassos, executive chef of Kyma in Atlanta, will prepare “Vidalia® onion studded halibut,” which will have a Vidalia® onion crust and be slow poached in Vidalia® onion infused olive oil and accompanied by Vidalia® onion stew, and a Vidalia® onion salad.

    Chef David Larkworthy, executive chef and founder of 5 Seasons Brewing Company in Atlanta, will prepare “Vidalia® onion Ossabaw pork burgers.”

    Chef Roberto Leoci, executive chef and owner of Leoci’s Trattoria in Savannah, who was awarded third place during the 2nd annual Golden Onion competition, will prepare “sea trout PLT topped with Vidalia® onion aioli.”

    Chef Danny Mellman, executive chef and owner of Harvest on Main and Blue Ridge Grocery in Blue Ridge, will prepare “Toasted Vidalia pudding with coddled farm egg and arugula, pickle and pecan salad.”

    Chef Austin Rocconi, executive chef for Le Vigne Restaurant at Montaluce in Dahlonega, who was awarded third place during the inaugural Golden Onion competition in 2012, will prepare “Vidalia® Onion Variations,” including Vidalia® onion noodles, Vidalia® onion “tofu,” charred Vidalia® onion broth, Vidalia® onion bulbs, and various Vidalia® onion garnishes.

    Chef Marc Taft, executive chef and owner of Chicken & The Egg in Marietta, will prepare “pan-seared Enchanted Springs Georgia Mountain trout with baby Vidalia, sweet potato, Brussels sprout and apple hash, Vidalia® onion soubise, pickled Vidalia buds and Riverview Farms ham hock reduction.”

    Chef Jordan Wakefield, executive chef and owner of Smoke Ring in Atlanta, will prepare “White Oak Pastures Beef & Foie Gras Sliders with grilled avocado and Vidalia® onion salad.”

    Recipe booklets featuring all competitors’ recipes will be available at the event for $10 each. Admission to Golden Onion is free.

    Chef competitors will each prepare eight plates of their entry dish. Five plates will be presented to judges, one reserved for photography, and two plates will be raffled off. The raffle offers tasting opportunities for spectators. Raffle tickets cost $1 each. With 10 competitors, there are 20 chances to win.

    Dishes will be judged on the basis of taste (50%), oral presentation (5%), visual presentation (10%), creativity (15%), overall use of Vidalia® onions (15%), and following the recipe submitted during the application process (5%).

    About the Golden Onion

    The Golden Onion professional cooking competition challenges Georgia chefs to create and prepare recipes featuring Vidalia® onions. Competing chefs will have one hour to prepare and present their recipes. The First Place champion will be presented the Golden Onion trophy to hold for one year along with a cash prize of $500. The second place winner will receive $250 and the third place winner $100. All winners will also receive commemorative plaques. The Golden Onion competition will be held at the Vidalia Community Center, 107 Old Airport Road in Vidalia, Ga. The event is open to the public starting at 12:30 p.m. Admission is free. For details visit www.vidaliaonionfestival.com.

    About the Vidalia Onion Festival

    Celebrating its 37th year in 2014, the Vidalia Onion Festival will be held April 24-27 in Vidalia, Ga. The event has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as one of the “5 Don't-Miss Festivals Across the U.S.” by MSNBC. The four-day festival offers something for everyone, including the Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant, a children’s parade, outdoor music concerts, an arts and crafts festival, opening ceremonies and fireworks, car show, the Kiwanis Onion Run, and the Famous onion eating contest. Come to Vidalia to experience the “whole onion.” For more information, visit www.vidaliaonionfestival.com.

    About Vidalia® Onions

    Vidalia® Onions are the pioneer of sweet onions and Georgia’s official state vegetable. Grown only in the mild climate and unique soil surrounding Vidalia, Ga., they’re loved by chefs and home cooks throughout the world. Vidalia® onions are hand-planted and hand-harvested each year, with sweet, juicy bulbs available seasonally from late April to late August. Their mild, sweet taste makes Vidalia® onions more versatile than stronger onions. And these Georgia sweeties are a low-calorie, fat, cholesterol, and sodium-free way to get a healthy dose of Vitamin C. For more information, visit www.VidaliaOnion.org.

    About the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA)
    The GRA’s mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia’s Restaurants in Advocacy, Education and Awareness. The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia. For more information, visit www.garestaurants.org.

    NOTE: HIGH-RES PHOTOS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.

    CONTACTS:

    Ingrid M. Varn
    Executive Director, Vidalia Area CVB
    vacvb@bellsouth.net
    912.538.8687

    Hope S. Philbrick
    Freelance Writer & Editor / Golden Onion Judge
    hopesp95@yahoo.com
    404.323.4699

    ###

  • 11 Apr 2014 12:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    With the help of Georgia Restaurant Association, Atlanta Chef Association, and many other incredible supporters, the first place teams will receive an all expense paid trip to represent Georgia at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundations ProStart National Competition in Minnesota May 2-6, 2014. Join us in wishing them the well. 

    The Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia (HEFG) would like to thank everyone for their support and participation in the 2014 ProStart Championship.

    Georgia’s ProStart Culinary Championships Awards were presented to:
    First Place – South Forsyth High School
    Second Place – Maxwell High School
    Third Place – Grovetown High School

    Georgia’s ProStart Management Championships Awards were presented to:
    First Place– Marietta High School
    Second Place– Charles Drew High School
    Third Place– Grayson Tech High School

    2014 ProStart Teacher of the year was presented to
    Deborah Grant – Maxwell High School

    Congratulations to all 11 culinary teams and 4 management teams from high schools across Georgia who impressed the judges and attendees with their skill and entrepreneurial spirit.

    Thank you to the sponsors, judges, students, teachers, mentors and volunteers for making the event possible.

    ABOUT ‘HEFG
    Established in 1989, The Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia (HEFG) is a 501(c)3 whose dedicated to providing direct support for the education of hospitality and foodservice students, by facilitating industry experiences and connecting the classroom with industry professionals and resources. Shaping students' future with real world experiences will develop the best members for our industry and the community. For more information, contact Lee Gray Executive Director LeeGray@HEFG.org 678-887-8009.
  • 11 Apr 2014 12:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Are you opening your very first restaurant, or know somebody who is, but you lack a lot of restaurant experience? Would you welcome the advice of a professional restaurant consultant?

    Show producers are casting for a new show and looking for first-time owners that can use some professional help with their opening. In exchange for participation, the show offers up to $20,000 worth of labor and materials.

    Eligibility criteria:
    • Ideal candidate is a first-time restaurant owner that will be opening within two months.
    • Restaurant cannot be a chain or franchise.
    • Restaurant must be full service (no delis, bakeries, take-out), serve alcohol and have at least 30 seats.
    • Owner wants/needs the help of a restaurant consultant.
    • Owner is a great character and has other people helping him/her.
    • Owner must be open to having the show producers film in the restaurant for approximately 7 days.
    For further details, please email dasha.lomonova@gmail.com.
  • 08 Apr 2014 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Vidalia, Georgia, USA (March 28, 2014) - Eleven Georgia chefs will soon slice and dice the official state vegetable at the 37th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival. In the process, they’ll prove smiles are more common than tears when it comes to working with Vidalia® onions.

    The 3rd Annual Golden Onion will be held on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Vidalia, Ga., on the final afternoon of the 37th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival. This professional cooking competition showcases the famed Vidalia® onion and also serves as a platform for chefs across Georgia to display their skills and creativity.

    From the mountains to the islands, fine dining to casual eateries, new business ventures to long-standing community mainstays, the 2014 roster of chef competitors represents a cross-section of Georgia restaurants and cuisine:

    Chef Costanzo Astarita, executive chef at Baraonda Ristorante in Atlanta, Ga., is originally from Italy’s Island of Capri. When his food-centric family immigrated to Bermuda, he honed his skills at The Bermuda Culinary School and later in the United Kingdom. In 1989 he settled in Georgia and became the food and beverage director at Château Élan in Braselton, Ga. After revamping the resort’s culinary program, Astarita decided to realize his dream of becoming a business owner. Along with business partner and fellow countryman Mario Maccarone, he launched C+M Gastronomy Group, which includes the restaurants Baraonda, Publik Draft House and Fig Jam Kitchen & Bar. Astarita says that he enjoys cooking with Vidalia® onions “first and foremost because they are a Georgia Grown product and grown locally. Secondly, we enjoy the mild flavor that the onions have whether raw or cooked. Also, our experience has shown that they add a mild sweetness to any dish they are used in.”

    Chef Jennifer Hill Booker,
    owner and executive chef of Your Resident Gourmet in Lilburn, Ga., was named a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2013. She authored Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent, to be released by Pelican Publishing House on September 1. She writes a weekly newsletter, is a contributing columnist and recipe developer for several magazine titles, and hosts Basil Radio Show. She partnered with Hard Rock Café-Atlanta for its culinary series, served as a culinary expert for Williams-Sonoma, and taught at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Atlanta. A member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Booker is co-chair of its farm and garden initiative. After earning a B.A. from The University of Tulsa, she completed Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee’s Culinary Arts program and later earned a Cuisine de Base Certificate from Le Cordon Bleu-Paris. She led Grayson Technical High School’s efforts to earn accreditation through The American Culinary Federation, making it the first school in Georgia to boast such honors. Of Vidalia® onions, she says that they “add a great flavor to every savory dish without the bite or bitterness of other onions. I look at Vidalia onions as a delicacy because I can only get them while in season and only from Vidalia, Georgia. So I make a point of using them and have created specialty dishes just so I can use more Vidalia onions.”

    Chef Jason Brumfiel, executive chef of The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort on St. Simons Island, Ga., was raised in Cambridge City, Ind. He attended Chowan College, N.C., to play football, working in the school café to earn money and learn about catering and volume cooking. Local football hero, businessman and ex-NFL player Bob Van Pelt encouraged Brumfiel to learn the restaurant industry. He spent time in kitchens in New Orleans, La., apprenticed with Chef John McCracken, C.E.C., in Jamestown, N.C., and studied at Guilford Tech Culinary School. In the United Kingdom, Brumfiel worked at the Rascasse in Leeds, the Farsyde Restaurant in Ilkley, and Mantra Restaurant in Burley-in-Wharfedale. In 2004, he returned to the U.S. and worked at the Cloister Hotel, Sea Island as chef in the River Bar, then chef de cuisine for the in-room dining experiences. “Vidalia onions speak of everything that is great about southern cooking,” he says. “The low sulfur in the soil is what makes them so sweet. Vidalia onions caramelize beautifully and yet are still very sweet and mild in the raw.”

    Chef Brian Justice, chef and owner of Tasteful Temptations Café in Brunswick, Ga., is a Georgia native. He started working at the Sea Island Company in 1992, completed the Apprentice Cook Program and was named lead cook/banquet chef at The Cloister, Sea Island. Six years later, he moved to the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., where he held multiple positions. In 2004 he leapt at the opportunity to drive fresh and frozen foods across the U.S. for Frozen Foods Express, based in Dallas, Texas. In 2007, he returned to his home state and hometown with his wife and opened Tasteful Temptations, which offers catering services, serves as the in-flight vendor for Netjets and most other private jets flying out of Brunswick and St. Simons Island, and also operates the café in the Brunswick Airport. He enjoys Vidalia® onions because, “They’re sweeter and don’t overpower dishes,” he says. He won 2nd place at the 2nd annual Golden Onion in 2013.

    Chef Pano I. Karatassos is executive chef of Kyma in Atlanta, Ga., a member of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. After earning a degree in Hospitality Management at Florida International University, he trained at the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and worked in prestigious kitchens around the country including three Michelin three-star restaurants: French Laundry in Napa Valley, Calif., Jean-Georges and Le Bernardin both in New York City, N.Y. He started cooking at age 16, working in his father’s restaurants Pano’s & Paul’s, The Fish Market and 103 West. Kyma opened in December 2001 and gained national attention in 2002 when Esquire named it one of the top 20 restaurants in the country. “Vidalia onions give us a different dimension of flavor than regular onions,” he says. “They have good sugar content that gives different preparations that sweetness we need in many of our dishes at Kyma. They have great texture, color, earthiness and sweetness.”

    Chef David Larkworthy, executive chef and founder of Five Seasons Brewing Company in Atlanta, Ga., has had a lifelong love of food: His first word was apple, he picked and sold blackberries at age eight, and began working at his father’s restaurant The Mushroom in Westport, Conn., when he was 12. After earning a marketing degree from Florida State University, he returned to Atlanta and, at age 23, opened his first restaurant, an Italian bistro, The Gourmet Grill. He later went to work for The Buckhead Life Group at Pano’s and Paul’s. In 2001, he opened the Five Seasons Brewing Company in Sandy Springs to feature local handcrafted beer and food served side-by-side; the company now boasts three Atlanta-area locations. Larkworthy, who works with local farmers and believes strongly in local, organic and sustainable foods, says that he likes “everything” about Vidalia® onions. “They are a wonderful ingredient. Georgia is a more special place because of them. They’re very versatile and a pleasure to work with.”

    Chef Roberto Leoci, executive chef and owner of Leoci’s Trattoria in Savannah, Ga., was named a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2014. He developed a passion for food at an early age while spending summers in Sicily with his family. His culinary career began as he worked and studied in Florence, Italy, and continued after crossing the Atlantic to work at The Ritz-Carlton on Key Biscayne, Fla. He then worked as a private chef for several years. After moving to Savannah to help open Bull Street Chophouse, in late 2009 he opened Leoci’s Trattoria. The menu is influenced by his boyhood in Bari, on the heel of the Italian boot. With a family of shopkeepers, cheese mongers and cooks, Chef Leoci has a firm background in the region’s foodways. Among his many accolades, Leoci awarded 3rd place at the 2nd annual Golden Onion in 2013. “Vidalia onions are definitely the best in the world!” he says. “They have a unique delicious and sweet flavor that reminds me of my second favorite, cipollinis from Italy.”

    Chef Danny Mellman is executive chef and owner of Harvest on Main and Blue Ridge Grocery in Blue Ridge, Ga., where his goal is to showcase local, sustainable products. The self-taught culinarian honed his skills in England, France and Italy. After returning to the states, he became executive chef of The Mad Batter in Cape May, N.J. In 1988, he headed south to Captiva Island where he opened The Greenhouse Grill, spending 25 years in Florida before joining the ranks of “half-backs” settling in north Georgia with his partner (writer and farm director) Michelle Moran. He has been featured in the “Great Chefs of the South” TV series. Certification from the American Culinary Federation, entrepreneurial endeavors, and recent writing assignments in Taiwan, Australia, Greece and Spain have additionally broadened Mellman’s knowledge and standing as a culinary professional. “I love the natural sweetness of a Vidalia onion,” he says. “They brown so quickly on the griddle and their shape makes for beautiful, uniform rings.”

    Chef Austin Rocconi is the executive chef for Le Vigne Restaurant at Montaluce in Dahlonega, Ga. A native of southern Mississippi, he graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, Calif. After a short time at The Jonathan Club Santa Monica, Calif., he returned south and worked in kitchens at Kyma, BLT Steak and Canoe in Atlanta before accepting his current position. Rocconi favors locally-sourced cuisine and hyper-seasonal ingredients; at Le Vigne he incorporates ingredients from the restaurant's garden as well as from regional purveyors. “Onions play one of the most important and yet modest roles in nearly all recipes in any aspect of the culinary world,” he says. “They provide depth, complexity, flavor development and enhancement for the most traditional chef to the dangerously avant-garde. I consider it a blessing to live in Georgia where I have access to such a nationally sought after product such as the Vidalia onion. The Vidalia onion gives me the chance to support local agriculture as well as show my community just one of the great accomplishments their state has produced. The Vidalia onion season is something I always look forward to and a product I will use as long as I am cooking.” He won 3rd place at the inaugural Golden Onion in 2012.

    Chef Marc Taft, executive chef and owner of Chicken and the Egg in Marietta, Ga., was named a Georgia Grown Executive Chef in 2014. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and then worked for the restaurant companies Carlson Hospitality and Brinker International. He has served as general manager for The Inn at Evins Mill in middle Tennessee, B.A.N.K Restaurant in Minneapolis, Minn., Domaso Trattoria Moderna in Washington, D.C., and Pacci Ristorante in Atlanta, Ga. Taft has also worked as the concept development director for Al Copeland Investments, where he helped develop Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro, and has held executive chef and corporate chef positions. His experience also includes stints as the director of food and beverage for the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., and director of restaurant operations for the Southeast region of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants where he was responsible for overseeing several restaurants including Area 31 in Miami, Fla., and Central 214 in Dallas, Texas. “I love the versatility of the Vidalia onion,” he says. “The perfect balance of the onion flavor and sweetness make it the perfect complement to any dish but they have a big enough personality to stand alone as the star of the show.”

    Chef Jordan Wakefield is executive chef and owner of the new Smoke Ring in Atlanta, Ga. After his first culinary job at age 14 at a casual Italian restaurant, the Georgia native attended Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, Ga., where he took a coveted three month externship at the exclusive Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va. He stayed and worked his way up to junior sous chef then returned to Atlanta to work as a lead line cook at Spice Market. The owners of Food 101 hired him as sous chef of Meehan’s Public House Sandy Springs; he was soon promoted to executive chef of the downtown Atlanta location. In 2010, he was invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York. With his wife he is opening Smoke Ring, which will serve his take on “Georgia-Style Barbeque” in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill community. “At Smoke Ring, we aim to cook only with the freshest ingredients,” he says. “We are a large supporter of Vidalia onions since they are grown right here in Georgia, and we use them daily to produce our popular onion rings. I enjoy cooking with Vidalia onions because they are the freshest and most flavorful onions available. It makes me proud to know that they are a product of my home state, Georgia.”

    Chef Astarita also competed in Golden Onion 2012. Chefs Justice and Leoci also competed in Golden Onion 2013. Chefs Rocconi and Taft join the competition for the third consecutive year.

    About the Golden Onion
    The Golden Onion professional cooking competition challenges Georgia chefs to create and prepare recipes featuring Vidalia® onions. Competing chefs will have one hour to prepare and present their recipes. The First Place champion will be presented the Golden Onion trophy to hold for one year along with a cash prize of $500. The second place winner will receive $250 and the third place winner $100. All winners will also receive commemorative plaques. The Golden Onion competition will be held at the Vidalia Community Center, 107 Old Airport Road in Vidalia, Ga. The event is open to the public starting at 12:30 p.m. Admission is free. For details visit www.vidaliaonionfestival.com.

    About the Vidalia Onion Festival
    Celebrating its 37th year in 2014, the Vidalia Onion Festival will be held April 24-27 in Vidalia, Ga. The event has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as one of the “5 Don't-Miss Festivals Across the U.S.” by MSNBC. The four-day festival offers something for everyone, including the Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant, a children’s parade, outdoor music concerts, an arts and crafts festival, opening ceremonies and fireworks, car show, the Kiwanis Onion Run, and the Famous onion eating contest. Come to Vidalia to experience the “whole onion.” For more information, visit www.vidaliaonionfestival.com.

    About Vidalia® Onions
    Vidalia® Onions are the pioneer of sweet onions and Georgia’s official state vegetable. Grown only in the mild climate and unique soil surrounding Vidalia, Ga., they’re loved by chefs and home cooks throughout the world. Vidalia® onions are hand-planted and hand-harvested each year, with sweet, juicy bulbs available seasonally from late April to late August. Their mild, sweet taste makes Vidalia® onions more versatile than stronger onions. And these Georgia sweeties are a low-calorie, fat, cholesterol, and sodium-free way to get a healthy dose of Vitamin C. For more information, visit www.VidaliaOnion.org.

    About the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA)
    The GRA’s mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia’s Restaurants in Advocacy, Education and Awareness. The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia. For more information, visit www.garestaurants.org.

    About Georgia Grown Executive Chefs
    The Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Restaurant Association appoint four Georgia Grown Executive Chefs each year, as part of a program that debuted in 2012. The goal of the program is to help raise awareness about the availability of the quality, local products that can be found in Georgia and promote relationships between chefs and farmers across the state.

    NOTE: HIGH-RES PHOTOS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.

    CONTACTS:
    Ingrid M. Varn
    Executive Director, Vidalia Area CVB
    vacvb@bellsouth.net
    912.538.8687

    Hope S. Philbrick
    Freelance Writer & Editor / Golden Onion Judge
    hopesp95@yahoo.com
    404.323.4699

    ###
  • 04 Apr 2014 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 

    Stories of the health care law’s impact on restaurants were a visible part of the debate during the House of Representatives’ April 3 vote to pass the Save American Workers Act, which would change the health care law’s definition of “full-time” from 30 to the traditional 40 hours.

    The ACA requires businesses to use the 30-hour standard in determining how many people they employ. Employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees could face huge penalties if they fail to offer health plans to employees who average more than 30 hours a week during a month.

    The National Restaurant Association supported the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and passed the House by a vote of 248-179. Eighteen Democrats joined all voting Republicans in support of the legislation.

    See how your lawmakers voted and send a “thank you” tweet or letter to representatives who co-sponsored the Save American Workers Act!

    Restaurateurs sent more than 5,000 letters to Congress on the issue, and met with hundreds of lawmakers about the challenges of using 30 hours a week as the new standard for full-time employment. The NRA and its members have been working for several years to highlight these and other business challenges under the ACA.

    Bill sponsor Young said that the 30-hour standard is already limiting hours and pay for employees across many industries, including in restaurants. “The employees we’re talking about are the people who most depend on getting every hour and every bit of wages they can,” he said. “This needs to be fixed.”

    Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) introduced a similar bill and later threw his support behind the Save American Workers Act. He said one of his restaurateur constituents was the first to talk to him about the challenges of using a 30-hour standard to define which employees are full time.

    “I was first approached about the problem with the 30-hour definition by Steve Palmer, one of the owners of Palmer Place restaurant, an institution in La Grange, Illinois,” Lipinski said during the House’s April 3 debate.

    “This is a family business committed to the community and to their employees. They offer health insurance coverage to their workers when possible. Because of the nature of their business, many of their employees are part-time and work flexible schedules. But the ACA’s definition of full-time worker has put the Palmer family’s one restaurant on the cusp of being classified as a large business. The family now finds itself facing hefty new expenses for health insurance, or a fine.”

    Passing the bill is one important step forward in the NRA’s drive to change the health care law. The NRA and its members now turn their attention to the Senate. “We encourage the Senate to move this legislation forward,” Scott DeFife, the NRA executive vice president, policy and government affairs, said.

    “Setting an artificially low, bright line as to who is considered full-time and who is considered part-time will force employers to limit the flexibility both employers and employees need,” DeFife said. “We look forward to continuing our work with Congress to address practical problems with implementation of the health care law for Main Street businesses.”

    During the April 3 debate, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) read from the NRA’s letter citing the potential challenges restaurant owners would face - including greatly reduced employee flexibility - under the health care law’s 30-hour definition of full-time.

    Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) cited a letter in support of the bill from the Employers for Flexibility in Health Care Coalition. The NRA co-leads the E-Flex Coalition, a group of leading trade associations and businesses in the retail, restaurant, supermarket, hospitality, construction, temporary staffing, and other service-related industries, as well as employer-sponsored plans insuring millions of American workers.

    Multiple lawmakers also mentioned letters they’d received from state restaurant associations in support of Young’s bill.
  • 04 Apr 2014 9:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Atlanta’s most appetizing festival returning to Midtown at Tech Square – Tickets On Sale July 11

    ATLANTA (April 3, 2014) – Chew on this! After successfully serving up the city’s best fare for more than a decade, Taste of Atlanta is back with bigger features and bolder flavors in its 13th year! The legendary three-day food festival is set to return to Midtown at Tech Square Friday, October 24 – Sunday, October 26, 2014. As the city’s premier food+wine+beer+cocktail event, Taste of Atlanta attracts tens of thousands of food lovers – from the southeast and beyond – to experience a weekend filled with culinary creations, interactive chef demos, specialty food and beverage tents and the chance to learn cooking secrets from Atlanta’s most talented chefs. Festival tickets will go on sale Friday, July 11.

    This year’s event will take festival-goers on a culinary adventure through the city’s many diverse neighborhoods. The new festival format will reflect the individual neighborhoods comprising the Metro-Atlanta area by featuring chef-driven eateries and breweries that give these communities their true personality and flavor. Food lovers of all ages are invited to join Taste of Atlanta this October in celebrating the dynamic energy and variety of the local restaurant scene while savoring what makes the city the food capital of the South!

    Hungry for more information? Event organizers will dish more details soon!

    WHAT: 13th Annual Taste of Atlanta
    WHEN: Friday, October 24 – Sunday, October 26, 2014
    7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Friday Night Festival Kickoff Party
    VIP Entry begins at 6:30 p.m.

    11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Festival, Saturday & Sunday
    VIP Experience is held 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday

    WHERE: Midtown at Tech Square
    The street festival will span eight acres and 10 city blocks in Midtown, including Spring Street and 5th Street

    COST: Festival tickets will go on sale Friday, July 11, 2014
    • Festival General Admission: $25 in advance, $35 at event
      Includes 10 taste coupons; additional taste coupons are $1 each
    • Festival VIP tickets: $75 in advance, $85 at the event
      Includes 10 taste coupons, souvenir tasting glass, exclusive access to the Wine+Beer+Cocktail Experience
    **Pricing for the Friday night kickoff party is TBD

    CONTACT
    Jennifer Walker/ Shannon King
    BRAVE Public Relations
    404.233.3993
    jwalker@bravepublicrelations.com
    sking@bravepublicrelations.com

    # # #

    About Taste of Atlanta:
    Taste of Atlanta is a three-day festival that celebrates the flavors, energy and diversity of the Atlanta’s local restaurant scene. The festival attracts tens of thousands of hungry attendees every year - from the Southeast and beyondu - to experience fare from Atlanta’s diverse neighborhoods. Guests can sample delicious dishes; sip robust wines, craft beers and innovative cocktails; be entertained by live cooking demos from local chefs; and enjoy interactive activities and family-friendly entertainment, all while uncovering the incredible dining treasures the city has to offer. Taste of Atlanta supports several Atlanta non-profit groups, including Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters, Atlanta’s Table, Georgia Organics and Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia and ProStart®. Join us Friday through Sunday, October 24-26 in Midtown at Tech Square to truly savor what makes Atlanta the food capital of the South. For more information, visit www.tasteofatlanta.com.

    Stay connected to Taste of Atlanta 2014:
  • 03 Apr 2014 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    After several postponements and delays, the federal government said it moved the menu labeling piece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the final step in the review process.

    According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it moved the regulation, which calls for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calorie information on menus and menu boards, and provide certain other nutrition data upon request,to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review.

    “The OMB has the rule,” said Joan McGlockton, the National Restaurant Association’s vice president of food policy. “Once the process is completed, the final regulation will be published and become public. However, the law will not become effective at that time. We anticipate chain restaurants will have at least six months to one year to implement the law once the final regulation is published.”

    McGlockton also said the NRA would provide analysis of the final regulation once it is published so restaurateurs would have a better understanding of what is required to comply with the law.

    The FDA’s proposed menu-labeling regulations were released in 2011 as part of the health care law. In addition to requiring chains to post caloric information, the law also states that information on fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber and protein, also would have to be made available to customers, in writing, upon request.

    In 2011, the NRA provided extensive comments to the FDA on the proposed regulation, seeking more flexibility and protection for restaurateurs who make good-faith efforts to comply with the law.

    A report in PoliticoPro said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told lawmakers at a recent House appropriations agriculture subcommittee hearing that the agency aimed to strike a balance between providing consumers with information without unnecessarily placing a burden on businesses.

    A summary of the proposed rules can be found on the FDA’s website.
  • 03 Apr 2014 10:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: The Washington Post 
    By Ed O’Keefe

    Eighteen House Democrats voted with Republicans Thursday to change the definition of full-time work as it relates to the Affordable Care Act, signaling that for some members of President Obama’s party the law remains a difficult political issue.

    The bill approved Thursday would change the law’s definition of full-time work from 30 hours a week back to 40 hours, a move that Republicans say is necessary as employers continue limiting the hours of part-time workers in anticipation of the law’s employer insurance requirement.

    Rep. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), the lead sponsor of the proposal, said the reductions in work hours unfairly target lower-wage workers whom the law was designed to help.

    “These are cafeteria workers, these are substitute teachers, these are adjunct professors,” he said this week. “These are folks who help us in terms of serving at restaurants. On balance, these are folks who can least afford to see a cut in their take-home pay. And so we want to restore the 40-hour workweek.”

    Obama threatened to veto the House bill this week, citing a recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that said about that1 million people would lose employer-backed coverage and that the number of uninsured would climb by almost 500,000 if the law’s work definitions were changed. And most congressional Democrats, buoyed by the new enrollment figures, said Thursday that Republicans were merely bending to the will of companies who are using the new law as an excuse to cut workers’ hours and pay.

    “It is not Obamacare that decides how much somebody works, it’s the person who runs the company,” Rep. James McDermott (D-Wash.) said Thursday.

    The law passed 248 to 179. All voting Republicans were joined by 18 Democrats, most of whom have voted repeatedly in recent months to approve GOP-backed measures that would repeal all or parts of the health-care law. The group includes Democrats most at risk of losing reelection this year, including Reps. Ron Barber (Ariz.), Ami Bera (Calif.), Patrick Murphy (Fla.) and Nick J. Rahall II (W. Va.).

    Thursday’s vote marked the 55th time the GOP-led House has voted to scale back all or parts of the law undefined and it won’t be the last. When the White House announced Monday that more than 7 million Americans had enrolled in health-care coverage, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed that “House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law.”

    Ahead of the vote, Republicans repeatedly cited the concerns of the service industry, a job sector that has continued hiring despite the fragile economic recovery. The American Hotel and Lodging Association complained Thursday that the law is affecting the already-complicated process of scheduling workers to staff hotels 24 hours a day. And the National Restaurant Association, a powerful Washington lobby, warned lawmakers Thursday that changing the law’s work rules “would help avoid any unnecessary disruptions to employees’ wages and hours, and would provide significant relief to employers.”

    Even though the House measure has little hope for consideration in the Democratic-controlled Senate, some Democratic senators suggested this week that they are open to discussing ways to tweak the health-care law’s work rules. Citing the concerns of restaurateurs, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, told reporters Wednesday that “If [House Republicans] want to sit down in a constructive bipartisan discussion on that issue, I want to be at the table.”

    “There are legitimate concerns expressed in many industries, including restaurants, about how we’re going to define a full-time employee,” Durbin said later. “Let’s sit down and work on it constructively.”
  • 03 Apr 2014 8:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Willis Health and Productivity Survey Offers Snapshot of Today’s Employer-Sponsored Health and Wellness Programs

    NEW YORK, April 3, 2014 – To combat rising health care costs, organizations are turning to targeted strategies and intervention programs that directly influence employees’ individual behaviors and health habits, according to the Willis Health and Productivity Survey by Willis North America’s Human Capital Practice, a unit of Willis Group Holdings plc (NYSE: WSH), the global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker.

    In addition, despite recent skepticism reported regarding return on investment from wellness programs - worksite initiatives that promote a healthy lifestyle -survey results revealed that nearly half (49%) of employers with wellness programs reported a measurable improvement in the firm’s medical costs or an improved risk profile among its workforce.

    According to the survey 61% of employer respondents identified employees’ health habits as the number one challenge in controlling health care costs, beating out the cost of compliance with health care reform and the more traditional measures, such as catastrophic cases, specialty pharmacy benefits, prevention and the use of high cost medical technologies. Notably, 78% of employers with wellness programs said that they were using some sort of incentive to drive participation in employer-sponsored programs.

    According to the survey 68% of respondents currently offer some type of employer-sponsored wellness program, an increase of 9% from 2013. Behavioral change and lifestyle issues, such as physical activity and nutrition continue to be the leading topics organizations are addressing through their wellness program.

    The Willis Health and Productivity Survey, published today, tracks employers’ strategies in delivering employer-sponsored health plans, including wellness programs. The survey represents the findings of 900 participants ranging from fewer than 100 to more than 10,000 employees.

    Key findings of the survey include:

    • 61% identified employees’ health habits as the number one challenge in controlling health care costs. High catastrophic cases (47%) and the cost of compliance due to health care reform (34%) ranked among the top three.
    • 78% of organizations with a wellness program said they used some sort of incentive to drive participation. The most common incentive driving employee’s completion of a health assessment is a premium contribution to the medical plan to help lower employee cost.
    • Providing employees with tools and information in order to become better consumers (64%) is the number one strategy organizations say that they are using to address rising health care costs.
    • 49% of those with a wellness program reported a measurable improvement in either medical costs or risks.
    • The majority of organizations (54%) are implementing a high deductible health plan in an effort to address rising health care costs.
    • 93% believe that healthier employees are more productive, yet very few are measuring the impact on productivity of employees’ absenteeism (22%), Family Medical Leave (19%) and presenteeism (7%).
    Commenting on the results, Dr. Ronald S. Leopold, Willis Practice Leader in Health Outcomes said, “The results of this survey point to a fundamental shift in employee health benefits and strategies. These results suggest that the shift of costs and risks to employees is on the rise, but so is a recognition that employers benefit from helping employees and their families make better decisions about their health.”

    “The Willis Survey results suggest that employer organizations should focus on programs and benefit design that influences and motivates positive health behaviors,” he added.

    The survey was conducted between November 1, 2013 and November 22, 2013.

    A full copy of the recent report can be downloaded here: http://www.willis.com/What_We_Think/.

    About Willis
    Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker. With roots dating to 1828, Willis operates today on every continent with more than 18,000 employees in over 400 offices. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation and market-leading products and professional services in risk management and transfer. Our experts rank among the world’s leading authorities on analytics, modelling and mitigation strategies at the intersection of global commerce and extreme events. Find more information at our Website, www.Willis.com, our leadership journal, Resilience, or our up-to-the-minute blog on breaking news, WilllisWire. Across geographies, industries and specialisms, Willis provides its local and multinational clients with resilience for a risky world.

    # # #

    Contacts:
    Media
    Colleen McCarthy
    +1 212 915 8307
    colleen.mccarthy@willis.com

    Investors
    Peter Poillon
    +1 212 915 8084
    mailto:peter.poillon@willis.competer.poillon@willis.com
  • 03 Apr 2014 8:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    (Washington, D.C.) The National Restaurant Association today commended Senate Finance Committee members for approving a tax extenders package that includes three key provisions for the restaurant industry.

    The provisions included in the legislation passed out of committee today include the 15-year depreciation schedule on restaurant-building improvements and new construction, retail improvements, and leasehold improvements; the enhanced charitable deduction for the donation of food inventory; and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which is offered to employers who hire employees from groups that historically have a hard time finding employment. All three provisions expired at the end of 2013 and would be extended for 2014 and 2015 under the legislation.

    “These are key incentives that help spur economic growth and job creation, as well as charitable giving, in the restaurant industry, America’s second-largest private sector employer,” said Dave Koenig, Vice President, Tax and Profitability, National Restaurant Association. “We thank Chairman Wyden and Senator Hatch for their leadership moving this legislation forward, and encourage swift action by the full Senate and House to pass these expired provisions.”

    15-year depreciation schedule on restaurant-building improvements and new construction, retail improvements, and leasehold improvements

    The bill extends for two years, through 2015, the temporary 15-year cost recovery period for certain leasehold, restaurant, and retail improvements, and new restaurant buildings, which are placed in service before January 1, 2016. The extension is effective for qualified property placed in service after December 31, 2013. Restaurants experience heavy wear and tear serving 130 million guests a day at nearly one million establishments nationwide. Making the 15-year depreciation provisions permanent provides restaurateurs with the predictability and additional cash flow needed to plan for future investments.

    Work Opportunity Tax Credit

    This bill extends for two years, through 2015, the provision that allows businesses to claim a work opportunity tax credit equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to new hires of one of eight targeted groups. These groups include members of families receiving benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, qualified veterans (including those who are unemployed, disabled, or receiving TANF), qualified ex-felons, designated community residents, vocational rehabilitation referrals, qualified summer youth employees, qualified food and nutrition recipients, qualified SSI recipients, and long-term family assistance recipients.

    Enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory

    The bill extends for two years the provision allowing all businesses to claim an enhanced deduction for the contribution of food inventory. A two year extension of this provision is estimated to cost $292 million over 10 years.

    CONTACT: Katie Laning Niebaum (202) 973-3967 kniebaum@restaurant.org or Christin Fernandez (202) 331-5939cfernandez@restaurant.org

    ###

    Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 990,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13.5 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 17-20, 2014, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.
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