Kelli Valade, President, Chili's Grill and Bar, to Receive the Beacon Award at Next Week's Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo

Award to be presented in partnership with the California Restaurant Association 

Los Angeles, CA, August 26, 2016 – Kelli Valade, president of Chili’s® Grill & Bar, flagship brand of Dallas-based Brinker International, Inc., a recognized leader in casual dining, will receive the Beacon Award during next week’s Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo on Sunday, August 28 at 1:00 pm. The award is presented on behalf of the Foodservice Council for Women and recognizes the accomplishments, career and contributions of women in the restaurant or foodservice industry. With 20 years of experience at Brinker International, in 2016, Kelli’s passion for operational excellence and deep understanding of the business led to her promotion to President of Chili’s.  

“I could not be more humbled by and grateful for the Foodservice Council for Women and the opportunity they provide to build strong networks and connections in our industry,” said Kelli Valade, President of Chili’s Grill & Bar. “I personally know the impact that can make on a career. So, I am extremely grateful to be named as a recipient of the Beacon Award.”

“We are excited to present the Beacon Award to Kelli Valade for her strides in advancing the career path for women in the restaurant and foodservice industry,” said Kathleen Wood, Chairwoman of the Foodservice Council for Women and Founder of Kathleen Wood Partners/Suzy’s Swirl. “This award was created to recognize a leader who has truly served as a beacon for our industry through their leadership, contributions and inspiration. Kelli’s extensive career and leadership at Brinker is a clear example of what we want to showcase and celebrate. The beacon is a great source of light and celebration for all of us.”

In Kelli’s current role, she is responsible for overseeing all aspects of domestic restaurant operations, culinary, marketing, franchising and PeopleWorks for the Chili’s.  Kelli has been with Brinker International since 1996, holding various leadership positions including Director of Human Resources for On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina®, Vice President of Corporate Human Resources, Senior Vice President of PeopleWorks for Chili’s and On The Border and Executive Vice President /Chief Operating Officer for Chili’s. 

“We are so proud to be able to feature and celebrate so many talented and celebrated women leaders at our Foodservice events and provide a forum for women entrepreneurs from all aspects of the business to connect,” said Ron Mathews, Vice President, Restaurant and Foodservice Events Portfolio. “The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and our Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum strive to provide content that is relevant and on trend for our attendees. The Beacon Award is certainly a cause for celebration and we are excited that Kelli will be the inaugural recipient in California.”  

 “Our annual Expo is a great opportunity to celebrate Kelli’s extensive career and achievements,” said Jot Condie, President + CEO of the California Restaurant Association. “We are proud that we are able to recognize such a valuable member of the California restaurant community.”

About The Foodservice Council for Women 
In 2011, Kathleen Wood, founder of Kathleen Wood Partners and Suzy’s Swirl, Ron Mathews, Vice President of Urban Expositions and Ferdinand Metz of Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum partnered to create the Foodservice Council for Women, a seminar series held during the three restaurant and foodservice events produced by Urban Expositions. The Foodservice Council for Women today is a networking organization that connects and promotes women leaders locally and builds connections nationally.  In celebration of the five-year anniversary of the forum, this year’s event will feature the new Beacon Award presentation as well as an intimate one-on-one discussion with Kelli followed by a panel discussion on Women Winning in Business that the Beacon Award recipient will join.  

About Brinker International
Brinker International, Inc. is one of the world's leading casual dining restaurant companies. Founded in 1975 and based in Dallas, Texas, Brinker International owns, operates or franchises more than 1,600 restaurants under the names Chili's® Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy®.

About The Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo
Since 1936, hundreds of thousands of restaurant and foodservice industry professionals have attended The Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo to gain experience and knowledge on how to become more informed, more educated, more competitive, and more profitable in the industry. The tradeshow and conference produced by Urban Expositions ( and sponsored by the California Restaurant Association (  For more information, visit 

This event joins a line-up of hundreds of new and returning exhibitors, an expansive educational program, cooking demonstrations, and other exciting events that will be taking place when 8,000+ restaurant and foodservice professionals come together at the Los Angeles Convention Center next Sunday through Tuesday, August 28-30, 2016.

Registered press are invited to the presentation of the Beacon Award for a photo opportunity. For more information on attending the show and securing media badges, please contact Amy Riemer at 978-502-4895 (cell) or

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