The award celebrates members of the restaurant and foodservice industry who are the best representation of how, through hard work and determination, one can achieve the American Dream in this industry. The National Restaurant Association presented the awards at a gala dinner during its 2012 Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.
“The winners of our 2012 Faces of Diversity American Dream serve as an inspiration for us all, and remind us that the entrepreneurial spirit that represents our industry remains strong,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “Jorge Levy’s determination to achieve his dream under challenging circumstances is truly remarkable. His journey demonstrates the extraordinary opportunities the restaurant industry provides for those who choose to make it part of their lives.”
Originally from Mexico, Levy began working at age seven to help his family following the death of his father. When he was 16, Levy’s mother moved the family to Dallas in hopes of building a better life. Knowing little English when he arrived, Levy worked in restaurants to help support his family, working his way up from a busboy to a cook, server and bartender.
After a life-changing experience in the military, Levy returned to Texas and pursued his dream of opening a restaurant of his own. With a loan from the Small Business Association, Levy opened Desperados Mexican Restaurant at the age of 29 to instant success. The restaurant, which relies heavily on his mother’s recipes, is now a fixture on the Dallas restaurant scene. With Desperados Mexican Restaurant in its 36th year of continual operation, Levy continually gives back to the country and city he loves.
The National Restaurant Association, in partnership with PepsiCo Foodservice, created the Faces of Diversity awards program in 2007. The American Dream Award honors individuals of diverse backgrounds who have found successful rewarding careers in the restaurant industry.
In addition to the award, a $2,500 scholarship was given to an aspiring student in their honor.
The other winners of the 2012 Faces of Diversity award are Bahjat Shariff of Panera Bread in Cumberland, R.I.; and Jorge Levy, Owner of Desperados Mexican Restaurant in Dallas, Texas. For more information about the Faces of Diversity awards program, visit www.restaurant.org/diversity.
To view a social media version of the Faces of Diversity awards news release, including downloadable photos and video, visit the Association’s website.
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 970,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry’s largest trade show (NRA Show May 5-8, 2012, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart, including the National ProStart Invitational April 27-29, 2012, in Baltimore, Md.); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids’ menu options. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.