Russ Benson, Founder & CEO



As a nationally recognized hospitality executive, Russ brings over 30 years of experience and expertise in culinary arts, on-site hospitality programs, restaurants, hotels and, of course, consulting.

After graduating from Johnson & Wales University with several degrees in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management, Russ worked in the hotel industry for 5 years, primarily at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago in various department head positions. 

For the last 25 years, Russ has been in non-commercial on-site foodservice where, for 10 years, he was a senior member of the MBNA America client liaison team managing a $40M food program.  From there, Russ was a senior executive with a Chicago based foodservice management company where he doubled the size of the company in less than 5 years. 

Since 2013, Russ has been an industry leading consultant having led complex projects for some of the biggest Fortune 100 companies in the nation.  

Russ is also very active in industry associations. Most notably, he has served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Society for Hospitality & Foodservice Management (SHFM), ultimately serving as SHFM President in 2006. Other notable accomplishments & recognitions: 

  • Hennessy Traveler chosen to evaluate the United States Air Force foodservice program (2005)
  • Past President of Johnson & Wales University’s Chicago Alumni Chapter (2010-2015)
  • Recipient of the exclusive NAFEM’s Doctorate of Foodservice Award (2006)
  • Awarded the SHFM Richard Ysmael Distinguished Service Award (2018)
  • Speaking engagements at Johnson & Wales, SHFM, MenuDirections, FCSI, MAFSI
  • Past Board Member of IFMA Chicago (2011-2017)
  • Speaker, panelist and faculty member of the Foodservice Design BootCamp (2019 - present)
  • Awarded the SHFM Spirit Award (2019)