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
  • One-night hotel stay at TRA Marketplace
  • Travel reimbursement up to $300

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. We are now accepting nominations for the 2017 award. Nominations are due Tuesday, April 4th, 2017.

Nominate an Educator

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. For eligibility, application evaluation and selection process, deadlines, required documentation and full rules see application. Applications must be postmarked by February 15, 2017. 

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.

2016–2017 Officers

Roger Kaplan, Restaurant Innovations/Kent Rathbun Concepts

David Cea, Orlando's Enterprise

Jessica Delgado, house. wine. & bistro

Immediate Past-Chairman
Charles Duit, Calder Woods Retirement/Lamar University

Russell Woodward, Texas Beef Council

2016–2017 Trustees

Larry Ahlhorn, Luby’s Cafeteria
Danny Arocha, University of Houston, Conrad N. Hilton
Tony Birsinger, Ecolab
Patrick Costello, St. Phillips College
Larry Delgado, Salt
Steve DeShazo, El Centro College
Melissa Doolin-Koehne, TDn2K
Deborah Donovan, The Frisco
Al Flores, Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen
Kirk Greenwood, Auto-Chlor
Roy Gillean, Odessa Barn Door
Jessica Goehring, Hotchkiss Insurance Agency, LLC
Jimmy Hasslocher, Frontier Enterprises
Greg Hemphill, The Coca-Cola Company
Patrick Whitey Hershorn, Sysco
Carter Hobbs, The County Line
Gary Johnson, Magic Time Machine
Timothy M. Kelly, Fort Worth ISD
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
Bob Sabina, Brinker International
Tina Sparger-Buice, Tina’s Culinary Business & Design Work
Gloria Starling, Capital Grille
Steve Swofford, The Culinary Institute of America
Vicki Tramel, Longview ISD – Retired
Sharon Van Meter, 3015 at trinity groves, a division of SVM Productions, LLC 
Carl Walker, Brennan’s