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RIHA Announces 2015 Annual Dinner Award Recipients and Honorees

By November 13, 2015Rhode Island, Top News

The Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA) will hold the annual Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner on Wednesday, December 2, at Twin River Casino. The event honors many of Rhode Island’s restaurants, caterers, chefs, hotel employees, bartenders and more. The association released its list of honorees and award recipients.

More than 500 guests attend. Recipients are nominated by their bosses, co-workers and even their customers and awards are given in over 20 categories, with 2-3 nominations per category. Winners are voted by the public and elected officials of the board.

Chairman’s Award
Kristin and Matthew Gennuso, Chez Pascal

President’s Award
Rachel Naradowy, The VIllage Haven Restaurant

Hotelier of the Year
Eric Churchill, Providence Marriott Hotel

Restaurateurs of the Year
Christopher Phillips, The Capital Grille

Vendor of the Year
Perkins, a Gordon Foodservice Company

Volunteer of the Year
Melanie Rich, Perkins, a Gordon Food Service Company
John Ciolfi, Dunkin Donuts Center

Vendor Representative of the Year
Carmine DeLuca, Lynch’s Cleaning & Restoration

Chef of the Year
Carlos DaMaura, Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse

Mary Brennan Tourism Award
Volvo Ocean Race Team – (Sail Newport, Discover Newport, Newport Hospitality, Department of Environmental Management

Hospitality Ambassador of the Year
Representative K. Joseph Shekarchi, Chairman of the House Labor Committee
Andy Moffit, First Gentleman, State of Rhode Island

Lifetime Achievement Award
Alan Costantino, Venda Ravioli
Roger Payette, Kay’s Restaurant

Media Partnership Award
The Rhode Island Beverage Journal

Woman of the Year
Amy Barclay, Trattoria Simpatico

Man of the Year
Craig Sculos, Twin River Casino

Excellence in Sustainability Award
Hope & Main Kitchen Incubator

NRA Restaurant Neighbor Award
Gregg’s Restaurants & Pubs
Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant

Employees of the Year


  • Maurice Charlton, Hampton Inn and Suites Warwick Airport
  • Maragrida Sebastio, Hampton Inn and Suites Warwick Airport
  • Manuel Herrand, Hilton Garden Inn
  • Chris, O’Shea, Hilton Providence
  • Balmer Herrera, Hilton Providence
  • Evan Poitras, Hotel Viking
  • Jana Cochran, Hotel Viking
  • Fesaha Afa, Omni Providence Hotel
  • Mirjaam Parada, Omni Providence Hotel
  • Flavio Fernandes, Omni Providence Hotel
  • Maria Santos, Omni Providence Hotel
  • Pablo De Los Santos, Omni Providence Hotel
  • Itmar Benitez, Providence Biltmore Hotel
  • Debbie Lepore, Providence Biltmore Hotel
  • Carlos Rivera, Providence Biltmore Hotel
  • Josh Rivera, Providence Biltmore Hotel
  • Breandan Aslin, Providence Marriott Hotel
  • Nicole Kitts, Providence Marriott Hotel
  • Jeff Shabo, Providence Marriott Hotel
  • Steven Simas, Renaissance Providence Hotel
  • Christopher Sutley, Renaissance Providence Hotel
  • Senait Weldesemayat, Renaissance Providence Hotel
  • Jennifer Tavares, Renaissance Providence Hotel


  • Ashley Swirles, Angelo’s Palace Pizza
  • Carino Mauricio, Angelo’s Palace Pizza
  • Phil Newman, Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse
  • Michael Yanish, Hilton Providence/Shulas 247
  • Gary Hatfield, Hilton Providence/Shulas 247
  • Alberto Gomes, Twin River Casino
  • Kerry Spady, Twin River Casino (Pastry Chef Team)
  • Chris Tessier, Panera Bread
  • Chrissy Serpa, Panera Bread
  • Ewa Buszta, Panera Bread
  • Kerri Bonas, Panera Bread

Antonio Debritto, Providence Biltmore


  • Brett DePaola, Preservation Society Newport
  • Kathleen Ceseretti, Providence Warwick CVB
  • Bryan Abernante, Twin River Casino
  • Tommy Gleckman, Twin River Casino


  • Donald Gubitosi, ECOLAB
  • Luis Vasquez, ECOLAB
  • Peter Kennedy, LAZ/Ultimate Hospitality
  • Luis Sanchez, LAZ/Ultimate Hospitality
  • Michael Santucci, LAZ/Ultimate Hospitality
  • Jane VanVleck, Regency Plaza

Emerging Leaders Under 30

  • Emily Trodson, Avenue N American Kitchen
  • Chef Antonio Franco, Basta Italian Restaurant
  • Carly Fischer, Hilton Providence
  • Emily Weidner, Hilton Providence
  • Alicia Cote, Omni Providence Hotel
  • Jeremy Grossi, Providence Biltmore Hotel
  • Megan Herne, Panera Bread
  • Monika Zuluaga, RI Hospitality Association

Bartender of the Year

  • Amy McGovern DeThomas, 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grill
  • Stephanie Merola, Andinos
  • Karen Silva, Angelo’s Palace Pizza
  • Pam Howard, Fred and Steve’s Steakhouse

RI Hospitality Education Foundation Award Winners
Chairman’s Award
Bahjat Shariff, Panera Bread, Howley Bread Group

Teacher of the Year
Chef Jamie Finkelstein, Connecting with Children and Families

Education Partnership of the Year
Connecting for Children & Families

Education Ambassador of the Year
Karl Guggenmos, Culinary Solutions International

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