2018 Lifetime Achievement Award WinnersOctober 12, 2018

The Colorado Restaurant Association is pleased to announce the winners of the Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards. This prestigious awards program celebrates individuals who are devoted to the idea of hospitality and practice it in their daily lives. These individuals are recognized throughout the industry for the significant contributions they made through their leadership, service and dedication to the foodservice industry and community. Awards were presented at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors Inaugural Dinner on October 9 at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.

Photos can be found on our Facebook page

Noel & Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award

Jill & Larry DiPasquale

This award is one of our most prestigious awards and is named for Noel and Tammy Cunningham due to their dedication to serving their community through volunteer work, advocacy, leadership, and philanthropy in a significant way. Tammy Cunningham was at the ceremony to present the award.

Epicurean Culinary Group, was a small, family owned business and which turned it into a leading food service company. Both Larry and Jill DiPasquale hold a passion for the philanthropic arm of the company: Epicurean Cares. Giving back to society by not only feeding and providing hospitality to those less fortunate, but also engaging the community with respect, dignity, and care. Years ago Noel Cunningham presented a challenge to Larry, to be a “leader of the next generation of food service professionals that give back and have an impact on the community”. Larry and Jill have embraced the adage of when much is given, much will be required and championed this through philanthropic efforts.


The Colorado Foodservice Hall of Fame was established in 1978 to honor those individuals who have served as an inspiration and example through their service and contributions to the industry.

Colorado Foodservice Hall of Fame

Vilis Berzins

Vilis began his restaurant design career with United Fixture Company in Montgomery, Alabama in 1963, returning to Colorado in 1969 to begin working independently under his own name. While he has done work in many states across the country over the last 55 years, he has been most prolific in Colorado and the Denver Metro area, where he has been instrumental in planning more than 1,000 restaurants, nightclubs and bars, several of which won awards for design excellence and historic preservation.

Colorado Foodservice Hall of Fame

Joan Brewster

Joan Brewster leads the largest and most active chapter of the American Culinary Federation. Joan has served as Executive Director at the ACF Colorado Chef’s Association for more than 25 years. Prior to that she served as Development Director at the Colorado Restaurant Association. Joan has worked tirelessly throughout her career to support chefs, cooks, food purveyors and students in Colorado and to raise the level of culinary professionalism through education, professional interaction and networking.

Colorado Foodservice Hall of Fame

Rob Haimson

Rob Haimson has spent his career owning and operating restaurants such as Potato Brumbaugh’s, the Neighborhood Grill and Roadkill Sports Grill in Greeley. He has made significant contributions to the industry through restaurant ownership, teaching, and a long history of involvement in leadership roles with both the Colorado and National Restaurant Associations – and at the local level.

Colorado Foodservice Hall of Fame

Thom Parker

Thom has had a distinguished career in the foodservice industry, most notably with Dean Foods, Robinson and Meadow Gold Dairies. He has been actively involved in the Colorado Restaurant Association in Government Affairs Issues and has served in leadership roles on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. He has been a supporter of the industry as a sponsor, and a strong contributor in numerous events and activities.

In honor of the late Dick Ayers, the Richard P. Ayers Award for Distinguished Service is the Colorado Restaurant Association’s highest achievement award. After a long career in foodservice, Dick decided to specialize in restaurant real-estate, and he became a legend for his ability to determine an appropriate sales price for restaurants. In 2007, Dick passed away, but this award is part of his legacy of service to the Colorado Restaurant Association. The Richard P. Ayers Award for Distinguished Service is given to those individuals who have contributed and served the Colorado Restaurant Association and our industry far above and beyond the call of duty.

Richard P. Ayers Distinguished Service Award

Steve Kanatzar, The Airplane Restaurant

Steve Kanatzar has been a longtime supporter of the hospitality industry and has been involved with the CRA for many years. He served as CRA 2016-17 Chairman of the Board and has served on the Pikes Peak Chapter Board since 2005 and the Executive Committee since 2011. He has worked diligently to help the CRA and hospitality industry battle through some tough economic and political times. He is passionate about ProStart and is always amazed with ProStart’s positive impact on students.

Steve worked for Specialty Restaurants, Sea Galley, and Red Robin before branching out into owning his own restaurant. He was able to establish a series of successful restaurants over the course of 35 years. Steve’s current concept, The Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs, has been an icon in El Paso County since 2002. That is when he was able to combine his experience of running restaurants with his love of aviation. His interest in cooking began while earning his degree in Chemistry at CSU. “My two housemates were food chemists so we were always experimenting with food and drink. Flying planes runs in my family so an aviation themed restaurant was a perfect fit.” Steve currently serves on the Boards of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau and the El Paso County Health Department, Food Safety Advisory Committee.

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