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Wild Oats Names V.P. of Food Service and Corporate Executive Chef

BOULDER, Colo. - Wild Oats Markets, Inc. yesterday said that Andre Halston has joined the company as v.p. of food service and corporate executive chef.

With 30 years of experience in culinary operations, production, procurement, and management, Halston will be responsible for further enhancing the Wild Oats food service department, including the company's delis, cheese departments, Juice & Java bars, and commissary kitchens across the country. He'll also be in charge of research and development for this department, allowing him to use his culinary skills and training to create an ongoing calendar of fresh and unique recipes for Wild Oats consumers.

Halston most recently held the position of chief culinary officer for LaMadeleine Restaurants, a 62-unit restaurant company based in Dallas. There he managed menu development for the chain's restaurants to maintain freshness in its offering, and oversaw kitchen and boulangerie operations for all of the LaMadeleine restaurants.

"Our food service department is a true destination for our customers to grab a quick meal that meets the high standards we set for all-natural, organic, and gourmet foods. With the addition of Andre to the team, we believe we can make our fresh prepared foods offering even more compelling for our customers," said Steve Kaczynski, Wild Oats' s.v.p. of sales, merchandising, and marketing, in a statement. "With the two fastest-growing segments in the food retailing industry being the natural and organic niche, and prepared meals to provide consumers more convenience, we believe our food service offering will continue to set Wild Oats apart from other food retailers as we further expand our store base into the future."

Before joining LaMadeleine, Halston served as v.p. of culinary and corporate executive chef at Champps Entertainment, a 52-restaurant chain based in Denver. Additionally, he has held various executive chef and culinary management and procurement positions at the Harman-Nickolas Restaurant Group in Chicago, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, and the Victory Restaurant in the Canadian province of British Columbia, among others.

Halston has also garnered several awards and recognitions throughout his career, including the Jefferson Evans Award for "Chef of the Year" in 2003 and the designation of "Celebrity Chef of the Year" by Food and Wine Magazine in 1996. He has appeared on television with his cooking show, "Dinner with Andre," and has lectured and judged at fine food events and conferences.

"We are thrilled to have someone of Andre's experience and creativity to run our food service department and serve in the role of corporate executive chef for Wild Oats," added Kaczynski. "We know our customers have discerning tastes, and we look forward to providing them with the highest-quality ... quick ready-to-eat meals that feature seasonal items and unique recipes."
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