On May 23 the National Turkey Federation (NTF) honored three facets of the foodservice industry for their incorporation of turkey on the menu at the eighth annual Turkey on the Menu (TOM) Awards during the 91st annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, Erik's Delicafé and Purdue University each took home TOM Awards for healthy, innovative menu applications of the protein.

BJ's Brewhouse, a casual chain of casual dining restaurants nominated by Butterball, won the TOM Award in the casual/family style category for offering a variety of turkey menu applications. BJ's offers three turkey sandwiches--classic turkey, roasted turkey cobb and turkey club--as well as a turkey burger, which corporate chef Ray Martin deemed "best in the nation" during his acceptance speech.

(l to r): Lisa Burkart, Butterball; and Ray Martin, BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse

The winner of the TOM Award in the quick-serve category was Erik's Delicafé, a chain of delis and bakeries in northern and central California. "Turkey is the highest-volume protein on this operation's menu," said Kyle Beth, Foster Farms' foodservice regional sales manager, who nominated Erik's Delicafé. "They offer quality turkey options that create unique flavors, which keep customers coming back for more." Indeed, Erik's features several sandwiches showcasing turkey as the main protein and even offers a "Sandwich with Character" promotion where customers can name a new turkey sandwich menu option.

Brian Wells, Foster Farms; Erik Johnson, Erik's Delicafé; Kyle Beth, Foster Farms; and Tom Engles, Foster Farms

NTF presented Purdue University with the TOM Award in the noncommercial category for providing healthy comfort dishes to college students. Whether it's providing a "taste of home" as the star of turkey noodle soup, sliced for sandwiches, ground into patties for burgers or julienned atop a salad, Terry Hickey, Butterball's Midwest regional manager who nominated Purdue University for the award, said turkey provides students with a trustworthy, valuable meal.

(l to r) Steve Canale, Butterball; Mike Kepner, Purdue University; and Terry Hickey, Butterball

NTF is the national advocate for all segments of the $14 billion turkey industry. Visit www.eatturkey.com for more information.