Culinary Educators Earn Industry’s Top Educator of the Year Awards Sponsored by Sysco Corporation

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Sysco Corporation along with Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ) presented Educator of the Year awards to three culinary instructors at CAFÉ’s 15th annual Leadership Conference held at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte on June 20.

Houston-based Sysco Corp. is in its fifth year of supporting this annual national award that acknowledges educators who are leaders in their field, have a commitment to both the educational community and foodservice industry, and employ innovative teaching practices inside the classroom. Each recipient was awarded a $1,500 cash prize, commemorative plaque and complementary full registration to CAFÉ’s 2019 Leadership.

This year’s honorees included:

2019 CAFÉ/Sysco Corporation University Educator of the Year

Dr. Jonathan Deutsch, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penn.

A culinarian who straddles the worlds of industry and education, Dr. Deutsch is a sought-after contributor to workshops, food industry shows, academic publications and more. The James Beard Foundation Impact Fellow is author or editor of eight books and teaches classes across a wide range of programs including culinary arts. He also maintains an active research program and is the Drexel Food Lab founder, a good food product development and culinary innovation lab. Dr. Deutsch’s academic pursuits over the past decade have included three focus areas: making—and keeping—culinary education relevant; engaging culinary students in hands-on solutions to address and improve real world food system problems; and deepening society’s understanding of the human relationship with food.

2019 CAFÉ/Sysco Corporation Community College Educator of the Year

Michelle Riley, Johnson County Community College (JCCC), Overland Park, Kansas

Urging students to succeed and supporting their educational journey without compromising standards describes the teaching style of Assistant Professor Michelle Riley. Wearing many education culinary toques, Riley teaches courses in medical nutrition therapy, nutrition applications, dietary management practicum, nutrition and meal planning, and foodservice management. Service learning is regularly emphasized in Riley’s courses. Her background in public health on issues surrounding low income food security have given her a healthy understanding of the challenges faced by many. Beyond course instruction, Riley developed a new JCCC Nutritional Health associate degree program and created a unique program in collaboration with the University of Kansas Health system and the University of Kansas Medical Center for monthly community presentations on cooking and eating right. Each program focuses on a nutrition or cooking topic and is open to the public and available on the web.

2019 CAFÉ/Sysco Corporation Secondary Educator of the Year

Daniel Wagner, Greene County Career and Technology Center, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

Dan Wagner has been teaching culinary arts at the Green County Career and Technology Center in rural Waynesburg, Penn., for nearly 30 years. He energetically continues to improve the program, mentor students and generously give back to an exceptionally supportive community. “I tell students that learning is lifelong, and you have to evolve to become successful,” Wagner said. The Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America school advisor has increased the program’s academic rigor by integrating STEM activities into food preparation classes. He assists students envisioning their careers beyond high school through his chef mentoring program where professional chefs come to talk and work with students. He is also highly involved in his school’s internship program. Community service is another tenant of Wagner’s instruction as he feels that in order to have a strong community people should give something back to it. The culinary program supports many community service efforts by serving more than 200 guests at various year-round functions. Additionally, groups of students have supported five Presidential Inaugural festivities (41st, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, and 45th presidents) by working in the pastry kitchen, cold kitchen and hot food line for various events.

About Sysco Corp. Sysco is the global leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, lodging establishments and other customers who prepare meals away from home. Its family of products also includes equipment and supplies for the foodservice and hospitality industries. With more than 65,000 associates, the company operates approximately 300 distribution facilities worldwide and serves more than 500,000 customer locations. Connect with Sysco on Facebook at and Twitter at For more info, visit

About the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ)

Founded in 2002, CAFÉ links the foodservice classroom to the foodservice industry to provide needed resources to educators so that they may more successfully train students for vibrant, fulfilling careers in the ever-evolving hospitality industry. Through its web portal, online magazine “The Gold Medal Classroom,” annual Leadership Conference, Deans and Directors Retreat and regional skills workshops nationwide, CAFÉ is dedicated to addressing the unique needs of highly specialized professionals who wear two hats as culinarians and educators. For more info, visit