Dining Services awarded prestigious Best of Show
Virginia Tech is often recognized for academics, quality of life, and student engagement. Recently the university received an honor that is rarely presented to academic institutions, but rather to companies like Microsoft or the renowned NYC-based Restaurant Associates. Virginia Tech received Food Management (FM) Magazine’s 2018 Best of Show award.
Yearly, since 1998, FM Magazine confers different awards identifying best practices and the most innovative thinking in the foodservice industry through its Best Concept program. The pinnacle of that program is the Best of Show award. FM Magazine proclaims that Virginia Tech has “one of the most innovative and successful college dining programs in the country.”
Acknowledging the many awards that Virginia Tech has received over the years for its superb dining facilities and menus, FM Magazine said, “VT is one of a very select few large public universities able to break into the top ranks of such listings on a consistent basis.”
Earlier in the year, Virginia Tech had already received recognition from FM Magazine by being named in its top-three 2018 College Power Players, but no other university has received the Best of Show award since 2012, when it was awarded to Stanford University.
“We’ve been aspiring to this award for decades now,” said Ted Faulkner, who directs Virginia Tech’s nationally renowned Dining Services program. “Winning the top spot nationally in Princeton Review and Niche, as we’ve done before, has certainly been a feather in our cap. Our success in competing against other colleges and universities is greatly celebrated and has helped catapult us into the national spotlight. With the Best of Show award, however, we came up against giants and came out on the top of the entire food service industry in 2018.”
Dining Services is Virginia Tech’s largest single employer on campus with more than 2,200 employees who serve more than 7.5 million meals each year to the Virginia Tech community. A part of Virginia Tech Student Affairs, Dining Services is especially known for its innovation, sustainability initiatives, and award-winning high-end cuisine that remains affordable for students. The 19,000 meal plans sold each year is double the 9,000-plus students living on campus. Another 7,000 Dining Dollars accounts puts its voluntary participation rate through the roof. That’s always a big indicator of customer satisfaction and quality.
Since being named as Best of Show, Virginia Tech has received praise from peers in the industry. “We are receiving kudos from other entities in the food service realm daily,” Faulkner said. Inquiries about the program, congratulatory notes and requests to tour Virginia Tech facilities have not ceased since word got out.
Becky Schilling, editor-in-chief of FM Magazine, said she is happy to see Virginia Tech “receiving some well-deserved praise from the industry for all their hard work.”
“We could never have done it without the inspired work of our staff and the tremendous support of our university family. This is a perfect example of the indomitable spirit of Virginia Tech rising up, all of us together, to reach a pinnacle of excellence,” according to Faulkner. “To achieve this level of success, we also are very dependent on our partners, both internal and external to the campus.”
Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Shushok praised the Dining Services team that made it happen.
“Dining Services continues to be recognized for excellence and innovation, and that's something about which we're proud," Shushok said. "While superb food and excellent service is a clear and aspired aim, our largest mission is to enhance the student experience, build community, and create optimal conditions for learning. I couldn't be prouder of the Dining Services staff members who give their heart and soul to make this so. These people really are the Best of Show.”
Virginia Tech Dining Services is also currently ranked #1 for Best College Food in America on NICHE.