Outstanding Employees Honored

Greg Hernandez covers the restaurant industry for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5989 and at greg.hernandez@latimes.com

An executive chef, a culinary assistant, a dishwasher and an expediter (the person responsible for coordinating the timing of serving meals) from Orange County were among those receiving 1999 HEROS Awards honoring restaurant employees for outstanding service.

The awards were established to highlight the contributions of Latinos in the Southern California restaurant industry, but this year the nominations were opened to all staff for the first time.

The Orange County winners were Florent Marneau, executive chef of Pinot Provence in Costa Mesa; Pinot expediter Diego Villapando; Samuel Martinez, a dishwasher at Marie Callender's Anaheim Plaza for 20 years; and Leonor Chavarin, a culinary assistant at the Olive Garden in Cypress for nine years.

Olive Garden general manager Tony Jennings described Chavarin as "our chiropractor--she keeps everything straight and in line."

The awards were handed out last month during a dinner at the Regal Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

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