The Nation's Restaurant News Awards Celebration

Let's Celebrate

This is a fantastic night filled with delicious food, great conversation and spirited celebration.  Don’t miss it!

All MUFSO attendees are invited to the Nation’s Restaurant News Industry Awards Celebration on Tuesday, October 15 kicking-off at 6:00 p.m. with A Taste of What’s Hot cocktail reception, featuring the 2019 Hot Concept honorees, followed by a seated dinner honoring the Norman Award and Golden Chain honorees.   

Golden Chain Awards

Nation's Restaurant News Golden Chain Awards recognize outstanding chief executives who are running industry-leading operations, mentoring top teams and creating opportunities for others.

The Norman Award 

The award honors late restaurant pioneer Norman Brinker, who founded Brinker International Inc., and recognizes an industry executive who consistently mentors and inspires future leaders.   2019 Norman Award Honoree:  Alice Elliot, CEO, The Elliot Group.

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This inspiring group of leaders will share their stories on stage at MUFSO during the CEO Panel, Tuesday, October 15 from 8:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. 

Read more about our Norman Award winner, Alice Elliot, and our Golden Chain winners below.

Alice Elliot

Alice Elliot

Founder & CEO, The Elliot Group

Alice Elliot, founder and CEO of executive search firm The Elliot Group, has been named the winner of the 2019 Nation’s Restaurant News Norman Award. 

This award was developed in memory of the late Norman Brinker to recognize an industry executive, annually, whose leadership philosophy and actions have had a significant impact on their industry peers and have also inspired future industry leaders. Award honoree must be a sterling example of continuing the legacy of selfless leadership and mentoring that the late Norman Brinker was so highly regarded for in our industry.

 Alice Elliot will receive the Norman Award at MUFSO Awards Celebration on Tuesday, October 15. Festivities start at 6 pm with our Hot Concepts ReceptionAll events are included with your MUFSO registration.

Julie Felss-Masino

Julie Felss-Masino

President, Taco Bell North America

Julie Felss Masino became President, Taco Bell North America, in January 2018. Reporting to the Yum! Brands President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, she is responsible for ensuring the brand continues to deliver same-store sales growth with breakthrough innovation, new store development and a frictionless customer experience through digital and technology initiatives. In her role, she’ll continue Taco Bell’s strong partnership with its franchisees to deliver world-class operations. Masino joined Taco Bell from Mattel Inc. where she was Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Fisher Price division. Prior to that, Masino led Sprinkles Cupcakes as CEO, and has extensive restaurant and food industry experience including 13 years in senior leadership roles at Starbucks. She also has deep brand marketing experience in the retail sector, including Godiva Chocolatier, Macy’s, J. Crew Group Inc., and Coach Inc. Masino earned her degree in Communications from Miami University.

Sam Fox

Sam Fox

Founder, Fox Restaurant Concepts

Sam Fox is the creative visionary behind one of the most successful restaurant groups in the U.S., Fox Restaurant Concepts (FRC). A 10-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Restaurateur of the Year, Sam is a New York Times best-selling cookbook author and was recently named one of the 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry by Nation’s Restaurant News for the fifth consecutive year.

Sam has earned some well-deserved street cred as a trend spotter and one of the most intuitive minds in the industry. He is known for popularizing the kale salad (#sorrynotsorry) and is recognized as one of the first to succeed in healthy dining with concepts that are thriving from coast-to-coast. He has been profiled by numerous media outlets, including Forbes, CBS News, and CNBC. 

Boasting over 50 locations and 12 unique concepts, Sam’s brands include Flower Child, North Italia and The Henry. Fox Restaurant Concepts employs more than 5,000 people across 10 states with plans for continued significant growth in years to come. 

Sam got his start by packing a punch – literally. Using his college tuition to open his first restaurant at 20 years-old, Sam was forced to learn how to cook when he got into a fight with his chef, and the chef broke his hand. Fast-forward two decades and dozens of restaurant brands later, and you’ll find Sam’s passions remain the same: insanely delicious food, amazing design and unforgettable hospitality. 

A “serial restaurateur” – Sam’s intense love of the restaurant business has him putting his fingerprint on just about everything in each restaurant he opens. Each and every menu item goes through a tasting with Sam. That cool water fixture at the North Italia sink? Sam picked it. That awesome dripping paint mural at all the Flower Child restaurants,  – yup, Sam, too. Drive by the Phoenix corporate headquarters (lovingly called “Big Kitchen”) and the first and last light you’ll see on is usually Sam’s office.

Sam generously gives back to the communities his restaurants serve through FRC’s charitable arm: Feed the Soul. Sam has been an avid supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs since the company’s inception in 1998 and held the position of honorary chair for the American Heart Association’s 2013 Heart Ball. In addition, Fox Restaurant Concepts supports No Kid Hungry, notMYkid, and UMOM New Day Centers.

Tim McEnery

Tim McEnery

Founder & CEO, Cooper's Hawk winery

Founder and Chief Executive Officer Tim McEnery is the visionary and chief architect behind the company’s community-based philosophy. Tim’s passion for food, wine hospitality and people has created a powerful combination of assets built upon a culture of inclusion. His company has been propelled forward by the loyalty of its nearly 400,000 Wine Club members, guests and dynamic employees.

Tim, an industry veteran who started Cooper’s Hawk at the age of 29, has grown Cooper’s Hawk into a competitive retail operation generating nearly $400 million in annual revenue with 41 restaurants by the end of 2019.

Cooper’s Hawk has forged grape-growing partnerships with some of the world’s premier vineyards and created over 50 varietals of artisanal wines. Since its inception in 2005, Cooper’s Hawk has garnered more than 550 wine awards from local, national, and international wine competitions. The brand has also been recognized for culinary excellence, voted ‘Hot Concept’ and ‘Breakout Brand’ by Nation’s Restaurant News, ‘Menu Trendsetter’ by Menu Masters, and ranked #5 Fastest Growing Restaurant in US by Nation’s Restaurant News (2018) and the Barrel Reserve and Wine of the Month labels earned top honors at the 2017 World Wine Championships for Packaging Design. Cooper’s Hawk is also the Official Wine Partner of the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards from 2018 through 2020.

Most recently, Tim was honored as one of five global finalists for the Wine Enthusiast 2018 Innovator of the Year Award, received a 2017 LEAD award for his outstanding achievements in leadership development and named Ernst & Young’s 2014 Midwest Entrepreneur of the Year. Tim has also been named to the 40 Under 40 by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Tim earned his bachelor’s degree in Restaurant and Hotel Management from Purdue University, and honed his skills at Aramark’s specialty restaurant division and Lynfred Winery.

Elizabeth Smith

Elizabeth Smith

Executive Chairman, Bloomin' Brands, Inc.

Liz Smith is the Executive Chair of the Board of Directors and former Chief Executive Officer of Bloomin’ Brands.

As the former CEO, she was responsible for developing and executing the company’s long- term objectives, growth strategies and initiatives for its portfolio of casual and fine- dining brands, which includes Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Smith joined Bloomin' Brands as CEO in 2009, and her leadership was instrumental in the revitalization of the company’s core brands, both domestically and internationally.

She has almost 30 years’ experience growing brands in consumer-facing industries. Prior to Bloomin’ Brands, she was President of Avon Products, Inc., where she successfully led the company’s global marketing, supply chain, information technology, and sales business units.

Smith also worked in several roles at Kraft Foods, Inc., including Group Vice President and President of the U.S. beverages and grocery sectors, overseeing a total of $6 billion in sales.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc., U.S. Fund for UNICEF and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute (Tampa, Florida).

Smith holds a bachelor’s degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Scott Svenson

Scott Svenson

CEO and co-founder, MOD Super Fast Pizza, LLC

Scott Svenson is the co-founder (along with his wife Ally) and CEO of MOD Super Fast Pizza, LLC.  MOD, which has been the fastest growing restaurant chain in the US for the past three years, is a culture-centric business inspired by a purpose of making positive social impact.  As of April 2019, the company had 425 stores trading across the US and the UK. 

A Seattle native and a graduate with honors from Harvard University, Scott spent 11 living and working in London.  He and his wife Ally co-founded Seattle Coffee Company, the first gourmet coffee retailer and wholesaler in the UK.  As CEO, Scott built the business to 75 retail locations in under three years, and managed the sale of the company to Starbucks in May 1998.  Following the sale, Scott assumed the role of President of Starbucks UK and subsequently President of Starbucks Europe.

Following the sale of Seattle Coffee Company, Scott helped launch Carluccio’s, an innovative Italian deli-cafĂ© concept.  Over 11 years, Scott helped build an award-winning concept trading in over 50 locations in the UK and Middle East.

Scott is also a member of the Board of Advisors of the University of Washington Foster School of Business and a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO).  Most importantly, Scott is married to an amazing woman and his high school sweetheart, Ally, and has four incredible boys, Tristan (22) and Dillon (20), Caspian (17) and Jasper (15).