Wild Oats Markets Inc., a leading national natural and organic foods retailer, announced Andre Halston has joined the company as vice president of Foodservice and corporate executive chef.
Bringing 30 years' experience in culinary operations, production, procurement and management, Halston will be responsible for further enhancing the Wild Oats Foodservice Department -- including the company's delis, cheese departments, Juice & Java bars and commissary kitchens nationwide. He will also be responsible for research and development for this department, allowing him to use his culinary skills and training to develop an ongoing calendar of fresh and unique recipes for consumers across North America. Halston most recently held the position of chief culinary officer for LaMadeleine Restaurants, a 62-unit restaurant company based in Dallas, Texas. There, he was responsible for managing menu development for the chain's restaurants to maintain freshness in the offering, and overseeing kitchen and Boulangerie operations for all of the LaMadeleine restaurants.
"Our Foodservice department is a true destination for our customers to grab a quick meal that meets the high standards we set for all-natural, organic and gourmet foods. With the addition of Andre to the team, we believe we can make our fresh prepared foods offering even more compelling for our customers," said Steve Kaczynski, senior vice president of Sales, Merchandising and Marketing for Wild Oats. "With the two fastest growing segments in the food retailing industry being the natural and organic niche, and prepared meals to provide consumers more convenience, we believe our Foodservice offering will continue to set Wild Oats apart from other food retailers as we further expand our store base into the future."
Prior to joining LaMadeleine Restaurants, Halston was vice president of Culinary & corporate executive chef for Champps Entertainment, a 52-restaurant chain based in Denver, Colo. He also held various executive chef and culinary management and procurement positions at some of the nation's leading dining establishments, including the Harman-Nickolas Restaurant Group in Chicago, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, the Royal York Hotel in Toronto and the Victory Restaurant in British Columbia, Canada.
Halston is a celebrated chef, having won several awards and recognitions throughout his career. In 2003 he was awarded the Jefferson Evans Award for "Chef of the Year," and in 1996 was named the "Celebrity Chef of the Year" by Food and Wine Magazine. He has appeared on several network television programs throughout his career with his popular cooking show, "Dinner with Andre," and has lectured and judged at several fine food events and conferences.
"We are thrilled to have someone of Andre's experience and creativity to run our Foodservice department and serve in the role of corporate executive chef for Wild Oats," said Kaczynski. "We know our customers have discerning tastes, and we look forward to providing them with the highest-quality alternatives to quick, ready-to-eat meals that feature seasonal items and unique recipes."