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Mary Ellen Burris, SVP for consumer affairs at Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets, is among the recipients of the first annual New York State of Mind Awards, bestowed by the New York Wine & Culinary Center (NYWCC). The Canandaigua-based not-for-profit organization is dedicated to education and engagement regarding New York state-produced wine and food.
The awards presentation will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the NYWCC’s annual New York State of Mind wine and culinary celebration featuring fine food and wines from New York, as well as music and a live auction.
“We received a tremendous response to our call for nominations for these inaugural awards,” said Tom Wahl Jr., chairman of the NYWCC Philanthropic Advisory Board and NYWCC board member. “It was not an easy task to choose from so many talented and innovative nominees. All demonstrated passion and creativity for promoting New York wine and agricultural products. With a growing demand for fresh and high-quality local food and wine, New York state is fortunate to have an abundance of both. So with these awards, we hope to shine a brighter light on all the hard-working people who are bringing the best to consumers.”
Burris will receive the inaugural Chairman’s Award, which recognizes an individual or organization that has shown extraordinary resolve and persistence in promoting New York state products through innovative selling and marketing.
Having joined Wegmans in 1971 as the voice of the consumer, Burris eventually created a 100-person department responsible for consumer response and customer services, food safety and quality assurance, community relations, public relations, and sustainability. She serves on the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the University of Rochester Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, on the Advisory Committee for the Center for Produce Safety, and on the NYWCC Education Committee. Burris has received a number of awards, among them the Food Marketing Institute’s Esther Peterson award in 2000 for consumer service.
In addition to the Chairman’s Award, the Grow NY Award for best New York grower will go to Doug Mason of produce supplier Mason Farms, in Williamson. Mason is the seventh generation of his family to run the business, which has been in operation since 1811 and a local grower partner of Wegmans since 1992. The grocer sells Mason’s organic sweet corn, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.
Other awards will honor best restaurateur or chef; best winey, brewery or distiller; and best tourism organization. Each honoree will get a unique handmade piece of glass donated by noted New York glass artist Robin Lehman.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 82 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.