LOS ANGELES, CA, July 10, 2019 – The 2019 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo will present their annual Torch and Beacon Awards to two inspirational leaders in the industry on Center Stage during this large West Coast gathering for the food and beverage industry. The Beacon Award, recognizing an outstanding woman leader, will be presented to Madelyn Alfano, President & CEO of Maria’s Italian Kitchen. The Torch Award, honoring an outstanding chef and/or restaurateur will be presented to Roy Choi, co-founder of Kogi Korean BBQ and award winning New York Times Bestseller. The awards will be presented during the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Sunday, August 25 through Tuesday, August 27, 2019. For more information about the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and details on the awards, visit

“Congratulations to Roy and Madelyn for all they have achieved throughout their careers to bring them the recognition they deserve through these distinguished awards. We look forward to presenting this year’s Torch and Beacon Awards on Sunday and Monday afternoon on Center Stage,” said Tom Loughran, Vice President of the Clarion UX Food & Beverage Group. “Roy and Madelyn are both an inspiration to the culinary industry and join a distinguished dossier of other chefs and restaurant leaders who have a received both of these awards over the past five years including Danny Meyer, Geoffrey Zakarian, Curtis Stone, and others.”

The Torch Award, which symbolizes Illumination, Energy, Joy, Victory, Enlightenment, Hope and Education will be presented to Roy Choi on Sunday, August 25 at 3:30 pm on Center Stage by The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and The California Restaurant Association. This prestigious award was created to honor outstanding chefs and/or restaurateurs who embody all those qualities and characteristics. Roy was chosen for his outstanding knowledge and leadership; philanthropic and community efforts; extraordinary talent and creativity; and his innovation and inspiration.

In 2008, Roy Choi and a crew of friends & family started what would be the beginning of the intersection between food, technology, culture, entrepreneurship, and long lines. That comet was called Kogi BBQ and it made a splash on the streets of LA, being the first to use Twitter and usher in a whole new generation of eaters and followers to what would be called America’s first viral restaurant by Newsweek. Roy was named Food & Wine Best New Chef 2010, TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World 2016, LA Times Restaurant of the Year 2017, and has an award winning New York Times Bestseller memoir called, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food.

Roy resides in Los Angeles where he oversees Kogi BBQ, Chego!, A-Frame, Alibi Room, LocoL, and his first restaurant outside California called Best Friend at Park MGM, Las Vegas. Roy is co-producer on the movie Chef and executive producer/co-host on the subsequent, The Chef Show on Netflix. He is also executive producer and host of the socially conscious television show Broken Bread on KCET and Tastemade and is a highly recognized speaker at events and panels worldwide. For more info on previous Torch Award Winners, visit

The Beacon Award, which symbolizes a person that illuminates or inspires will be presented on Monday, August 26 at 3:30 pm to Madelyn Alfano on behalf of The Foodservice Council for Women and The Clarion UX Food and Beverage Group. Madelyn Alfano, President & CEO, Maria’s Italian Kitchen is one of California’s most successful restaurant owners who has truly served as a Beacon for the industry through her leadership, contributions, and inspiration.

In l985, she opened her first Maria’s Italian Kitchen in Sherman Oaks, Calif. With headquarters in Los Angeles and more than 500 employees, Maria’s Italian Kitchen is among the leading privately owned restaurant groups in the state. Today, there are 10 Maria’s Italian Kitchens, including the newest location in Oxnard. With every community Madelyn joins, she offers healthy, quality food with hospitable service in a casual yet elegant and friendly atmosphere.

In addition, she is an active professional, serving as a board member of both the Statewide California Restaurant Association and past president of its Los Angeles Chapter. She is past President of the Los Angeles Board of the National Association of Women Business Owners. A member of YPO since 2002 and recently elected as the International Network Food and Beverage chair, she is currently a panelist and member of the CNBC Small Business Council and sits on the Board of Advisors for the UCLA Anderson Business School Price center for Entrepreneurs.

Following the award presentation, Madelyn Alfano will sit as a panelist on the Foodservice Council for Women. For more information about the Beacon Award, and past recipients, visit

The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, sponsored by the California Restaurant Association (, will provide industry professionals access to the hottest menu trends, state of the art design and decor, a renowned education program, several culinary demonstrations, and 450+ of the leading vendors and purveyors dedicated to serving the restaurant & foodservice community. For more information, vist

The trade show and conference will be co-located with Healthy Food Expo West, bringing attendees access to the latest healthy products from organic, vegan, gluten-free and allergy-safe to hormone-free, non-GMO, plant-based, low-sodium, low-fat, and Coffee Fest, the business-to-business specialty coffee & tea destination for access to new products, education and trends.

The three trade shows are owned and managed by Clarion UX (, which produces 37 events across 13 sectors of both trade and consumer events. Clarion UX, which is the U.S. division of Clarion Events, UK, and backed by The Blackstone Group has become one of the fastest growing event companies in the U.S. with aggressive growth through both acquisition and launch. Clarion acquired PennWell in early 2018, bringing 4 Tradeshow 200 events into the U.S. portfolio and super-charging the already rapid growth. Clarion UX has offices in Trumbull, CT; Kennesaw, GA; Boca Raton, FL; Tacoma, WA, and Fairlawn, NJ.

About Yayoi

Yayoi Otani: Writer, Photographer and Web Administrator for The Experience Magazine (

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