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Judges for F&B@Sea awards announced, Campari ‘proud sponsor’

L-R: Top Row: Kimberly Brock Brown, Margie Jones, Rudi Scholdis, Bret Thorn; Bottom row: Rick Welch, Katherine Wojcik, David Yeskel
Seven judges are appointed to decide the winners of this year’s F&B@Sea awards in Miami, aimed at recognising leadership and innovation within the global food and beverage cruise community.

Taking place on the 11 April during F&B@Sea the F&B@Sea Awards sponsored by Campari Group are aimed at recognising leadership and innovation within the global food and beverage cruise community and are open to both cruise lines and suppliers. The awards are comprised of eight different categories, ranging from Most Sustainable Product & Wellness Pioneer to F&B Maverick of the Year and are free to enter.

Campari named exclusive awards sponsor

A spokesperson for Campari Group, a major player in the beverage industry with a portfolio of 50+ premium and super premium brands, including Aperol, Appleton Estate, Campari, SKYY, Wild Turkey, and Grand Marnier, said, ‘We are thrilled and honored to be the sponsor of the F&B@Sea 2024 awards. At Campari, we believe in celebrating excellence, innovation, and the passion that drives the food and beverage industry.

‘The F&B@Sea awards are a testament to the relentless pursuit of perfection within the industry, and Campari is proud to support and acknowledge these exceptional talents.’

The judges

Kimberly Brock Brown

Chef Kimberly Brock Brown CEPC, CCA, AAC is the immediate past national president and continuing member of the board of directors for the American Culinary Federation – the largest association of professional chefs and cooks in North America.

Some of her many accomplishments and accolades include her induction into the Honor Society at the National Canadian Culinary Federation in 2022 and being recognised as an honorary member of the Saudi Arabian Chef Table Circle in Jeddah in July 2023.

She is an active member of the ACF's Honor Society, the American Academy of Chefs, as well as the international association of gastronomy, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs-Charleston chapter. Brock Brown has also represented ACF at the World Association Of Chefs' Societies in Abu Dhabi in 2022, and in 2023, was appointed to serve on the ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ where she acts as a chef-leader and advisor for the US Department of State's American Culinary Corps, in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation.

Margie Jones

Margie Jones is interim dean and a professor at Collins College of Hospitality Management and has a Ph.D. in educational studies from Claremont Graduate University, a master’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Indiana University. Better known as ‘the wine professor,’ she is a certified wine educator and a certified sommelier.

She has been a board member of the Society of Wine Educators for over 10 years and is currently serving for the next two years as board president.  She has judged at several international wine competitions and was the steward for Fairplex’s L.A. International Wine Competition from 1999 to 2019. Prior to joining the Collins College faculty, Jones worked as a manager in food & beverage with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.  She has also worked for VMS Realty, Hyatt Hotels, and RCI, Inc.  

Rudi Scholdis

Rudi Scholdis is the winner of four Michelin stars from different restaurants, part of the Grand Chef group of Relais & Amp Châteaux for several years. He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants ‘La Voile d'Or,’ ‘Chesa Veglia,’ ‘Ciel Blue,’ ‘Le Cheval Blanc,’ and ‘The Grill’ at The Dorchester Hotel, among other acclaimed European venues. In 2001 he began working as culinary director at Silversea. Today, he is culinary director for Kenoz, which serves the world’s southernmost caviar, as well as master chef at restaurants Casa de Amalia and Amandine Bistró in Chile.

Bret Thorn

Bret Thorn is senior food & beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality with responsibility for spotting and reporting on food and beverage trends across the US. He also hosts a biweekly podcast: ‘In the Kitchen with Bret Thorn.’ Thorn has a bachelor’s degree in history from Tufts University. He also studied traditional French cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris.

Rick Welch

A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Rick Welch gained both his Certified Executive Chef and his Certified Food and Beverage Executive accreditations, before moving from the kitchen to F&B director roles, and eventually, to GM at Hilton Hotels. Today, as president of RMW Global Consulting, Welch specialises in product and business development within the cruise and hospitality industries. He is also the global ambassador of food & beverage for Seatrade Cruise Global.

Katherine Wojcik 

Katherine Wojcik is a certified sommelier, certified specialist of wine, and director of beverage programs and partnerships for luxury & lifestyle brands at IHG Hotels & Resorts. At IHG, Wojcik is responsible for wine, beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverage programs and partnerships for 65 hotels, restaurants, and bars. Prior to IHG, she enjoyed a varied career spanning several hospitality disciplines and holds a B.S. in hotel administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

David Yeskel

Over the past 25 years, travel journalist David Yeskel has covered the cruise industry for a variety of trade and consumer publications, often writing with a focus on F&B topics.  He is a frequent TV, radio and podcast guest, sharing insider knowledge of the cruise sector as ‘The Cruise Guru.’ 

The annual F&B@Sea event takes place April 10-11 at Miami’s Mana Wynwood Convention Cente with the awards show held on the second day. 

It runs in tandem with Seatrade Cruise Global from April 8-11 at Miami Beach Convention Centre, a shuttle bus running between the two venues.

Register for F&B@Sea here

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The 2024 F&B Trends Report

We surveyed cruise lines, manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers of food/beverage to find out where the sector is headed. Report Includes: Market predications for 2024/2025, food and drink trends, technology, training and more!

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