'Turkey on the Menu' awards presented by N.T.F.

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO, ILL. — The National Turkey Federation announced winners of its Seventh Annual "Turkey on the Menu Award" during the National Restaurant Convention in Chicago on May 17.

Dallas-based Jason’s Deli won the award for the fast-food chain’s wide variety of creative turkey sandwich and salad offerings while promoting health and the environment. "This chain continues to be an industry leader," said Scott McClarrinon, national accounts manager, Perdue Farms, who nominated Jason’s Deli. "They promote healthy, made-to-order cooking in an Earth-friendly environment. "Not only are they providing excellent food, but they are also improving the environment and offering consumers healthier menu options."

Jason’s Deli takes a proactive approach to customer wellness and the environment, according to N.T.F. It has installed solar panels to run their units, was one of the first chains to eliminate trans-fats from the menu and is currently leading the charge to remove high-fructose corn syrup.

Created in 1976, Jason’s Deli has become the fastest-growing, fast-casual restaurant chain with more than 200 stores in 25 states. It promotes more than 11 sandwiches featuring turkey on its menu including the Ciabatta Bing, Smoked Jack Panini, Oven-Roasted Turkey Muffaletta to completely customized sandwiches.

Nashville-based J. Alexander’s won the first T.O.M. award in the fine-dining category for its approach to bringing the traditional turkey sandwich to the white tablecloth setting. J. Alexander’s operates 33 locations in 13 states throughout the U.S.

"By bringing the traditional turkey sandwich to the white tablecloth setting, J. Alexander’s has helped open the door for others to elevate turkey to the next level," said Sherrie Rosenblatt, N.T.F.’s vice president of marketing and communications. "Two long-term menu items, the NYC Deli Sandwich and the Country Club, illustrate the freshness, creativity and unique flavors that go into the preparation of their offerings."

Philadelphia-based ARAMARK Corporation, a non-commercial foodservice operator, won for its variety of value-oriented, non-commercial turkey menu applications across many day parts, segments and cuisines. It uses 18 specified turkey products, including fresh, frozen, cooked and raw, totaling more than 30 million lbs. of turkey annually. As a principal piece of their deli business, turkey is one of their most commonly promoted menu items.

"These high-end deli operations can be found all over the country, providing exceptional service and value to consumers," said Jim Johnston, national account manager of Butterball LLC, who nominated ARAMARK for the award. "They are committed to finding the next big thing in turkey and how to take this protein further in their menus."

ARAMARK operates 54,196 units with 13 different channels of managed services, such as college campuses, healthcare facilities and school districts.

"This is the first time the T.O.M. Award has a repeat winner," Ms. Rosenblatt, said. "This is because this company knows how to develop and sell successful turkey concepts to patrons across multiple lines of non-commercial segments."

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