Chef's Gwen Page, Sean Wilson and Wade Thompson talk about the hard work it takes to live your dream. The Des Moines Register


If you have someone in your life who works for the restaurant and hospitality industry in Iowa, now is the time to nominate them for an upcoming award. 

The Iowa Restaurant Association is accepting nominations for its annual Restaurateur, Chef, Employee (host, server, bartender, etc.), Emerging Hospitality Leader, Philanthropist and American Dream Awards.

The public is invited to nominate outstanding people in Iowa’s restaurant and hospitality industry for any of these awards honors.

More: Iowa Restaurant Association releases list of 2018 award winners

Winners will be recognized at the association’s annual Celebrating Excellence Hospitality Awards ceremony held in conjunction with its Hospitality Expo Nov. 18 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

Nominations will be accepted through Aug. 15.

Visit to submit a nomination.

2018 Award Winners:

  • Restaurateur of the Year — Chef Benjamin Smart, Executive Chef, Big Grove Brewery, Solon & Iowa City, Pullman Bar & Diner, Iowa City, St. Burch Tavern, Iowa City
  • Chef of the Year — Chef Aaron Holt, Executive Chef/Co-General Manager, RoCA, Des Moines
  • American Dream Award — Chef Aman Razadan, Owner/Executive Chef, Hemispheres Bistro, Bettendorf
  • Employee of the Year — Shayna Watts, Assistant Manager, Fresh Mediterranean Express, Waukee
  • Emerging Hospitality Leader of the Year — Holly Hintz, Pastry Chef/General Manager, Créme Cupcake + Dessert, Des Moines
  • Small Community Restaurant Neighbor Philanthropist — Unc’s Cheesecakes, Jessica Baldus Osage
  • Large Community Restaurant Neighbor Philanthropist — Gusto Pizza, Joe McConville, Josh Holderness & Tony Lemmo, Des Moines

Brian Taylor Carlson is the food and dining reporter at the Des Moines Register. Reach him at or 515-284-8552 and follow @briantaylorcarlson on Facebook, @BriinDSM on Twitter and @briindsm on Instagram.

Reporters like Brian help take you behind the scenes. Support our work by subscribing today at

Don't miss an opening or closing. Sign up now and we'll email you with big news.

Read or Share this story: