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Food Excellence Awards honor top kitchens

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – It’s like winning an Oscar Award for safe food handling. The Snohomish Health District Food Excellence Awards honor the top restaurants and institutional kitchens in six categories, selected from more than 4,000 food permit holders in Snohomish County.


Only businesses with no food code violations in the past year are even nominated for an award by food inspectors. After that, nominees are scrutinized by the Food Advisory Committee, a group of restaurant owners, managers, chefs and food safety specialists who volunteer their time to advise the Health District on policies and procedures.


The winners were honored at this week’s Snohomish County Board of Health meeting. Food Program Manager Rick Zahalka noted that each year the competition gets tougher and there are new challenges to food safety that must be addressed by businesses.


“I am always impressed by the achievements of Excellence Award winners.  Their efforts result in excellent food safety and quality as well as in the happiness and satisfaction of their customers,” Zahalka said.


2012 Excellence Award Winners


Full Menu Establishment–Playa Bonita Mexican Restaurant, Marysville. Owners Jorge Acero, Mario Zambrano and Jose Luis Zambrano were commended for their professionalism and having no violations for the last five inspections.


Fast Service Establishment–Miyako’s Teriyaki & Wok, Marysville. Michael Kim owns and manages the restaurant near the Costco in Lakewood. It’s the second year this business received a nomination. The owner apologized for being late to the meeting – he was delayed by a food inspection. He shared some of his tactics for keeping surfaces clean and food fresh.


Limited Menu Establishment–Surf Shack Espresso, Lake Stevens. Theresa Personius owns and runs the business in Frontier Village.


Grocery Store–Harbor Pointe QFC #832, Mukilteo. The store is managed by Kevin  Heuser – QFC’s corporate food safety specialist Jane Dale also attended the meeting. Last year, the QFC store in Bothell won this award.


School/Industry/Institution–Marysville Getchell High School. The school’s kitchen is managed by Donna Geise. She brought three kitchen workers with her, and noted that everyone on her team of 10 helped earn the award. The school serves breakfast and lunch in multiple buildings across the campus.


Temporary Food Establishment–Silver Firs Safeway. The store is managed by Mike Eagle. In addition to its deli and in-store food, the store does many temporary events outdoors, which add complexity.

Snohomish Health District created the Excellence Awards program in 1989 as a positive reinforcement of its restaurant and food service inspection program. The public health agency’s 11 food program staff visits every establishment at least once throughout the year. Restaurants with more extensive – and potentially hazardous – menus are inspected three. School kitchens, temporary food booths, assisted living businesses and grocery store barbeques are all inspected to ensure food safety.


Food inspection reports may be viewed online at Search for “restaurants.”


In addition to inspecting food facilities, the Health District offers classroom and online training for food workers and managers. In 2012 more than 25,000 Snohomish County food handlers received food safety training.


Call 425.339.5250 to learn more about the Food Program at Snohomish Health District, or visit us online at


Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier Snohomish County through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about the Health Board and the Health District at