ORLANDO, FL, August 1, 2019 – The 2019 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show will present their annual Torch and Beacon Awards to three inspirational leaders in the industry on Center Stage during this largest gathering in the Southeast for the food and beverage industry. The Beacon Award, recognizing an outstanding woman leader, will be presented to Heather McPherson, a former food editor, restaurant reviewer and multimedia journalist for the Orlando Sentinel. The Torch Award, honoring an outstanding chef and/or restaurateur will be presented to power couple James & Julie Petrakis, owners of The Ravenous Pig. The awards will be presented during the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, taking place Sunday, September 15 through Monday, September 16, 2019 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. For more information about the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, visit

“Congratulations to James and Julia Petrakis and Heather McPherson for all they have achieved throughout their careers to bring them the recognition they deserve through these distinguished awards. We look forward to presenting this year’s Torch and Beacon Awards on Sunday and Monday afternoon on Center Stage,” said Tom Loughran, Vice President of the Clarion UX Food & Beverage Group. “These individuals are very talented and put their best foot forward in the restaurant industry and truly deserve this recognition.”

The Torch Award, which symbolizes Illumination, Energy, Joy, Victory, Enlightenment, Hope and Education will be presented to James & Julie Petrakis on Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 4:30 pm  on Center Stage by The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, and The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. This prestigious award was created to honor industry leading chefs and/or restaurateurs who embody outstanding knowledge and leadership, philanthropic and community efforts, extraordinary talent and creativity, innovation and inspiration. Today, James and Julie, are culinary leaders spearheading Orlando’s bourgeoning food movement with multiple concepts in Orlando, including: The Ravenous Pig (2007), an award-winning American Gastropub; Cask & Larder (2012), a Southern Public House featuring seasonal ingredients located in Orlando’s International Airport; and The Polite Pig (2017), a fast-casual concept in Disney Springs combining local Florida flavors with wood-fired, smoked modern barbecue. The restaurant duo has received numerous accolades including five James Beard nominations. James and Julie Petrakis both grew up in Winter Park, Florida and graduated from the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where they met, married and became business partners. While in New York, Julie maximized every opportunity, and accepted a position to work as a line cook at Tribeca Grill during her schooling. After graduation, Petrakis headed south and completed her externship at Atlanta’s Bacchanalia (2001), where she grew her passion for baking and using fresh ingredients indigenous to the Southeast. After graduating James joined the opening team of Atelier at The Ritz-Carlton NYC, where he learned the mechanics of cooking in a bustling city kitchen. Years later, the husband-and-wife restaurant duo decided to return to their roots and returned to Orlando. For more info on previous Torch Award Winners, visit

The Beacon Award, created to recognize a woman leader who has truly served as a Beacon for the industry through leadership, contribution and inspiration, will be presented on Monday, September 16, 2019 at 2:00 pm to Heather McPherson on behalf of The Foodservice Council for Women and The Clarion UX Food and Beverage Group. Heather McPherson is a former food editor, restaurant reviewer and multimedia journalist for the Orlando Sentinel. She handles press and media for Chef Art Smith’s Florida Homecomin’ Kitchen and Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs and Downtown Disney, is the cohost for “Prime Time Kitchen” with Jim Colbert on Real Radio 104.1 and is the Director of Client Strategies for RockawayPR.  A past president of the Association of Food Journalists, she provides food content for the Florida Dairy Farmers at, Edible Orlando, and “Heather’s Florida Kitchen”. The author of three cookbooks, she has co-written five others and edited three cookbooks. Her latest works are “Mojito;” and “Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida’s Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans” and “Good Catch: Recipes & Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida’s Waters” both with Pam Brandon and Katie Farmand (all three University Press of Florida). She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the College of Journalism and Communication at the University of Florida. Following the award presentation, Heather McPherson will sit as a panelist on the Foodservice Council for Women. For more information about the Beacon Award, and past recipients, visit

The  Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show and Healthy Food Expo are produced and managed by Clarion UX, and sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging AssociationClarion UX produces 37 events across 13 sectors of both trade and consumer events. Clarion UX, which is the U.S. division of Clarion Events, UK, and backed by The Blackstone Group has become one of the fastest growing event companies in the U.S. with aggressive growth through both acquisition and launch.  Clarion acquired PennWell in early 2018, bringing 4 Tradeshow 200 events into the U.S. portfolio and super-charging the already rapid growth. Clarion UX has offices in Trumbull, CT; Kennesaw, GA; Boca Raton, FL; Tacoma, WA, and Fairlawn, NJ.


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