Leadership & Excellence

A skilled workforce is essential to our economy and when industry and education work together, it creates a direct path to employment for Texans. The Texas Restaurant Association and the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation have long recognized the importance of workforce development for our industry. We are heavily invested in supporting educational opportunities for restaurant careers in Texas. Partners have a direct impact on the success of our programs and their ongoing development.


President's Circle

The President’s Circle is an endowment for the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Members of the President’s Circle are the Foundation’s highest donors and are fully committed to its sustainability. Endowment gifts are designated for educational programming and workforce development opportunities produced by the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation and that impact tens of thousands of lives each year.

TRAEF President’s Circle members

Chef Sharon Van Meter
Chef Charles Duit
Jessica Delgado
Carmelo Mauro
David Cea
Roger Kaplan
Nikky Phinyawatana
Jimmy Hasslocher
In Memory of G. Jim Hasslocher

Claire and William L. Hyde, Jr.
Greater Austin Restaurant Association
Greater Dallas Restaurant Association
Rio Grande Valley Restaurant Association


For more information or to join the President’s Circle, please contact Steph Smith.

Friends of the Foundation

TRAEF relies on partners and individual donors to help fund critical programming and advance our mission of putting passionate people on exciting and rewarding industry job paths. All Friends of the Foundation have a direct impact on the 25,000+ Texas ProStart students enrolled in culinary arts and restaurant management courses in their high schools. TRAEF helps connect the classroom to the career, and, therefore, continues to offer resources to high school and college graduates working in the restaurant industry.

Did you know that Texas ProStart is taught in more Title 1 high schools than any other state? This means, our programs are directly connected to encouraging more students to stay in school and graduate. The stronger our programs are, the more students they impact and the more lives we help change. Something as critical as a high school diploma to something as rewarding as a successful career all starts with YOUR donation.

Your donation helps fund:

  • TRAEF scholarships
  • Student mentoring programs
  • Student internship programs
  • Educational programming
  • Workforce development opportunities

Give now!

Educator Excellence Award

Texas ProStart instructors who demonstrate leadership and excellence in culinary education are eligible to contend for the annual Educator Excellence Award. Teachers must be advocates of the Texas ProStart program and dedicated to helping students achieve success. Awarded to educators who have made significant contributions in the classroom and beyond, the award package includes the following:

  • $1000 cash prize
  • Complimentary registration to the Culinary Educators Training Conference
  • 2 tickets to the TRA Marketplace
  • 2 tickets to Night of Excellence awards dinner
  • 2 tickets to Lone Star Bash
  • One-night hotel stay at TRA Marketplace

The winner will go on to represent Texas at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Educator Excellence Awards Dinner in Chicago. Students, colleagues, parents and community members are welcome to nominate deserving teachers.

Learn about the 2017 winner, Kathleen Roussel here.

W. Price, Jr. Memorial Scholarship

Each year TRA awards this scholarship to students with a growing passion for the food service industry. The scholarship is named for W. Price Jr., the first executive director of the TRA who served from 1953 until 1974. Seven scholarships for $1,000 are awarded to graduating high school students attending a post-secondary culinary program and students currently enrolled in a post-secondary culinary program.

Board of Trustees

The TRA Education Foundation is governed by a 45 member Board of Trustees comprised of restaurateurs, industry vendors and suppliers, and high school and post-secondary educators.

2017–2018 Officers

David Cea, Orlando's Enterprise

Jessica Delgado, Salt / house.wine. & bistro

Sharon Van Meter, 3015 at trinity groves, a division of SVM Productions, LLC 

Immediate Past-Chairman
Roger Kaplan, RK iNNOVATION/Kent Rathbun Concepts

Russell Woodward, Texas Beef Council

2017–2018 Trustees

Danny Arocha, Houston ISD

Tony Birsinger, Ecolab

Valencia Bivens, The Coca-Cola Company

Patrick Costello, St. Phillips College

Larry Delgado, Salt / house. wine. & bistro.

Steve DeShazo, El Centro College

Melissa Doolin-Koehne, TDn2K

Charles Duit, Calder Woods Retirement

Colleen Dunavan, Seasons 52

Al Flores, Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen

John Fuentes, Fuentes Cafe Downtown

Oliver Fuller, ECOLAB

Kirk Greenwood, Auto-Chlor

Roy Gillean, Odesssa Barn Door

Jimmy Hasslocher, Frontier Enterprises

Greg Hemphill, The Coca-Cola Company

Lisa Hernandez, University of Houston - San Antonio Campus

Patrick Whitey Hershorn, Sysco

Carter Hobbs, The Country Line

David Holtzman, The Art Institute of Austin

Gary Johnson, Magic Time Machine

Aaron Lyons, Dish Society

Matthew Mabel, Surrender

Brian Medina, Self Opportunity

Margaret McKoin, The Time Group

Early Mulley, Halfmann’s Cake Cottage

Karen Musa, Collin County College

Lloyd Nichols, Popdine, Inc.

Rhonda Obenhaus, Panhandle Restaurant Group

Jack Ogden, Texas Mutual Insurance Company

Kara Palermo, Cy-Fair High School

Nikky Phinyawatana, Asian Mint

Bill Puett, Performance – Roma Foodservice

Glenn Rierson, Ace Mart Restaurant Supply

Ashley Rosenfeld, A' La Carte Foodservice Consulting Group

Bob Sabina, Brinker International

Mary Jane Sampson, Lubbock Restaurant Association

Tina Sparger-Buice, Tina’s Culinary Business & Design Work

Vicki Tramel, Longview ISD – Retired

Carl Walker, Brennan’s

Charles Youts, Classic Cafe