Operation BBQ Relief Director of Culinary

Director of Culinary

Operation BBQ Relief welcomes John Imbriolo as Director of Culinary.  You could say John Imbriolo was predestined to become a chef. He began his career at age of 13, studying Italian cuisine in his Father’s kitchen, the fifth generation to study the culinary arts. After earning a degree in Restaurant Management, John honed his skills at hotels and restaurants across New York City including Naples 45, the exclusive Doubles Club International and the famed “21” Club. He has been a featured chef at the James Beard Foundation and his creations have graced many prominent magazines and newspapers including La Cucina Italiana, New York Magazine, Nation’s Restaurant News, NY Times and the Daily News.

In 2004, John joined Romano’s Macaroni Grill bringing his talents to a national stage, where the brand earned the coveted Menu Masters Innovator of the Year award. After arriving in Texas John began creating and developing savory Guest favorite dishes for Texas native restaurants, Texas Land & Cattle and its sister establishment, the Lone Star Steak House and has appeared on Good Morning Texas, Great Day Houston and The Broadcast television shows.

Most recently, John was named Chief Culinary Officer for Food First Global Restaurants where he led the culinary teams for both Brio and Bravo restaurants.

John currently resides in Deland, Florida with his wife, Carolyn.

OBR Organizational Changes

Director of Education and Safety

After first serving as an OBR volunteer and then, in 2019 as OBR’s BBQ Basics Program Manager, we are pleased to announce that Brian Norfolk has accepted the Director of Education and Safety position with OBR. Brian is pressing forward OBR’s commitment to making our workspaces safe for all employees and volunteers while simultaneously driving the OBR Academy’s educational investment in our family. Brian is a project manager by trade and a product and program designer at heart. After serving in the US Navy as a Corpsman, Brian honed his project management skills working in the construction industry. Thereafter, he spent his days running his own business. Brian enjoys designing products; he is the owner of two U.S. patents for his original designs. His real passion is designing and building processes and programs from the ground up. Brian, his wife Michelle, and their two children enjoy hanging out with neighborhood friends, doing crafts, or experimenting with ways to live more self-sufficiently.


ASP Program Manager

Introducing Aprile Williams, our new ASP Program Manager. Aprile is responsible for OBR’s Always Serving Project programs, such as BBQ Basics, and will be developing and implementing curriculum for both in person and virtual training platforms. Aprile comes from a 15+ year career in the education system teaching K-12 and College. After completing her Doctorate of Education with Walden University, Aprile sought to work in an organization where her background in education and passion for serving others can be utilized. Aprile has a love for yoga and is a certified yoga instructor, enjoys scuba diving, kayaking, running, and pretty much anything that gets her outdoors. She is a military spouse of five years and has an adult son, teenage step-daughter, and a dog named Zoey.

Human Resources and Accounting Administrative Specialist

We are pleased to announce Carrie Cramer as the Human Resources and Accounting Administrative Specialist at Operation BBQ Relief. With her extensive office management and accounting experience as well as ability to wear multiple hats, Carrie will be a valuable addition to Operation BBQ Relief. She is excited for this opportunity to be a part of Operation BBQ Relief as we continue to provide the healing power of BBQ to the community. Her most recent position as Church Administrator for Rainbow Mennonite Church, as well as the years spent with Process Resource Group, Inc. provided her valuable, relevant experience when it comes to office administration.  She is well versed in maintaining accounting records for several business and processing payroll and timely tax filings. Carrie’s experiences have taught her the importance of staying flexible with plans and to adapt to any situations that may arise at Operation BBQ Relief.

New Leadership at Operation BBQ Relief

New Head of Volunteer Services

Operation BBQ Relief is pleased to announce Brian Polak as the new Head of Volunteer Services, effective February 22, 2020.  Brian’s responsibilities include developing and managing all aspects of volunteer engagement and coordination, including strategies to encourage new or increased volunteerism, standard operating procedures for volunteer management tasks, and more.  As a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Brian brings over 20 years of project management experience to OBR.

Brian Polak has supported Operation BBQ Relief in one way or another since its inception in 2011.  After his first deployment to Washington, Illinois, following a 2013 tornado, Brian was determined to do more for the organization.  Brian always wears his OBR gear with pride and eagerly launches into his elevator pitch at the first inquiry of “What’s Operation BBQ Relief?”  As a KCBS Master Judge and competition Pitmaster for Designated Smokin’ Area, Brian always takes advantage of having captive audiences at BBQ competitions to be the quintessential OBR Ambassador.

Brian has served as the Illinois State Lead and later Territory 3 Director, where he worked to develop OBR fundraising opportunities at local BBQ competitions and retail events and served as Site Lead for the 2015 Kirkland/Fairdale deployment in Illinois. He then moved on to become the Director of Volunteer Management in 2017.  In that role he honed the process and tools for getting volunteers registered with Operation BBQ Relief and signed up for events.

Brian is a Sr. Program Manager at AT&T.  He is also a United States Army Veteran, where he worked military intelligence in Germany.  Brian and his wife of 21 years, Laurie, live in Carol Stream, IL, with their two Beagles.  They have two sons, Sean Dwyer (26) and Eric Dwyer (25), who also live in the area.

Join us in congratulating Brian on his new position!

OBR Organizational Changes

Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference

Volunteer Awards

Thank you to all of our volunteers who attended the first annual volunteer banquet.  We truly hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!  And a huge thank you to all of you who worked behind the scenes to make everything happen.  It was a weekend to remember!  A huge congratulations goes to the following volunteers who were this year’s recipients.

The Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year Award – Laurie Polak
The Leadership Award – Joey Rusek
The Heart Award – David Keith
The Que’ Comer Award – Cheryl McDonald
The Road Warrior Award – Michael Moore
The Innovation Award – Paul Carnell
The Motivation Award – Leigh Carnell

OBR on 60 Second Docs

Watch the full video on 60 Second Docs.