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National Award Winners

Honoring Diversity in Restaurants

The 2015 recipients of the Faces of Diversity American Dream awards represent the diversity and spirit of entreprenuership of the restaurant industry.
 

Nafees Alam

CEO/DRG Concepts
Dallas, Texas
 
Alam, who came to the U.S. from Bangladesh at age 17, entered the restaurant industry right out of college as an executive with Waffle House. As a leader, he joined DRG Concepts, a restaurant operations brand that has helped revitalize Downtown Dallas. Alam and his staff have been incredibly involved with various charities, including: The Bridge, a homeless recovery center; Vogel Alcove, which provides free childhood development services for children in poverty; and 6 Stones, a non-profit that provides a variety of services to help those in need.

 
Carlito Jocson
Corporate Executive Chef/Yard House 
Irvine, California
 
Jocson emigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines at a very young age. While studying biochemistry in college, he worked at a restaurant to earn extra money — eventually leaving his pre-med program to become a chef. Over the last 30 years, Jocson has enjoyed a successful career, including 16 years as Yard House’s executive chef and an original partner. He continues to be involved in organizations that help educate younger generations about Filipino culture and feeds up to 150 homeless and at-risk families every week.
 

Pamela Patton

Patton’s Restaurant & Catering
Des Moines, Iowa
 
Raised in rural Georgia with her seven siblings, Patton was the first member of her family to graduate college. Her passion for cooking began in rural Alabama under her great grandmother, Gussie Hayes, at the age of ninePatton loved to cook, and began inviting Drake college students to her home after church, offering them a home cooked meal and leftovers to carry them over for a few days. The number of students she helped grew from 25 to 100. While working in corporate America in Des Moines, she started a catering business while still feeding the college students. Some graduated and were transitioned into employment at the company where she worked. In 2010, she secured a loan from the Targeted Small Business (TSB) when banks were not lending monies, and her business opened in 2011. Patton wanted to establish her business in a diverse neighborhood and currently has a diverse staff, reflective of the neighborhood she serves.