We had a diverse group of speakers that touch every segment of the food industry, drive trends and challenge the status quo from culinary arts to food science and everything in between.

Click each name to learn more about the speaker!
Amy Alarcon 
Vice President of Culinary Innovation
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Amy Alarcon, Head of Global Culinary Innovation for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, is a 34-year restaurant veteran with more than 27 years devoted to chain-based product development. Since joining Popeyes, her team has focused on a enhancing a robust product pipeline of innovations including 2010 Menu Masters Best Limited Time Offer Wicked Chicken®, 2015 Menu Masters Best Limited Time Offer Buttermilk Biscuit Butterfly Shrimp™, Rip’n Chick’NTM, Chicken Waffle Tenders™, and Red Stick Chicken™; Zatarain’s Butterfly Shrimp, Hushpuppy Shrimp; and global innovations around the world like Red Boat Chicken and Rock Sugar Honey Lime Wings. Most recently the Popeyes culinary team was responsible for creating the item that became the most buzzed about product introduction in 2019- the chicken sandwich that launched a competitive “chicken sandwich war” within the QSR space and is also the most successful product launch ever in Popeyes’ history.

Amy has held various leadership positions throughout her career including Churchs Chicken, Taco Cabana, Arby’s, and has been at Popeyes for over 12 years. She attended Appalachian State and earned her culinary degree from the School of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, GA, where she graduated with honors. Amy is committed to the foodservice industry and believes in preserving the deep-rooted culinary heritage of the South.

Suzy Badaracco 
Culinary Tides

Suzy Badaracco is the President of Culinary Tides, Inc. and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminalistics, Associate degree in Culinary Arts, and Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition. Suzy has been trained in military intelligence, Chaos theory, and predictive analysis techniques and has been practicing trends intelligence and predictive forecasting for more than 15 years. Using these techniques, she has been able to successfully predict and profile government, technology, adversary and ally, food, flavor, consumer, industry, and health trends.

Culinary Tides, Inc. helps food industry partners navigate trends by revealing relevant patterns so they can create products that connect with customers. They specialize in foretelling a trend’s birth and forecasting its trajectory, personality and longevity. The forecast results are used to create entrance, navigation, and exit strategies.

Nathan Bronson
Project Lead
Miles Willard Technologies

Nathan Bronson is a 20 year veteran of the food industry in Idaho. He spent 12 years in technical services in potato processing facilities, and he has focused on research and development for the last 8 years as a project leader at Miles Willard Technologies (MWT). MWT is responsible for development of a multitude of snack concepts in the low pressure extruded and thinly sheeted categories. Their work can be seen on store shelves all over the world. Nathan and his family of five enjoy camping, horses, and being outdoors. He has way too many hobbies including woodworking, welding, competition target shooting, and leatherwork. Nathan regularly speaks as a guest at colleges, symposiums, and conferences.

Nicholas A. Burd, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Nicholas Burd is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health and is also a faculty member of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition, he is the director of the Nutrition and Exercise Performance (NEP) Group. The NEP Group has a long-standing research interest in nutrition and exercise metabolism and in studying their integration in vivo in humans.

Dr. Burd is regularly named to the University of Illinois List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students and is the current chair of the Exercise is Medicine On Campus (EIM-OC) Committee. He has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed research, review articles, and book chapters related to protein metabolism and its application in performance and/or clinical nutrition. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and American Society for Nutrition (ASN). He has received grant funding from the National Pork Board, USDA, Alliance for Potato Research & Education (APRE), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and Dairy Management Inc. (DMI).

Ann Barrett, Ph.D. 
Senior Food Engineer
Combat Feeding Directorate of the US Army

Ann Barrett is Senior Food Engineer with the Combat Feeding Directorate of the US Army Combat Capability Development Command — Soldier Center in Natick. Massachusetts. She has pioneered food engineering research projects concerning numerous processing, preservation and characterization technologies. These efforts have included: nutrient densification and food compression; preservation of vitamin retention in long-stored products developed for a Mars mission; controlling the rate of starch digestion through inhibition of digestive enzymes using natural ingredients; enhancing the stability of omega-3-fortified ration components; moisture management and control of moisture migration in complex foods; extrusion and infusion technologies; and mathematical texture characterization and textural optimization of novel army ration components. She is senior author of over one hundred technical publications and presentations describing results from this research, and has been a recipient of the Army Achievement Award, an Army Fellowship for graduate study, and numerous Natick Soldier Center awards. Dr. Barrett graduated from Williams College with degrees in Chemistry and English, and received her PhD in Food Engineering from the University of Massachusetts. She has prior industrial experience in powder processing operations at Brady Enterprises, Inc., in Weymouth MA.

Chef Thomas Bowman 
Product Developer & Food Scientist
Eclipse Foods

Thomas is a world-renowned product developer, food scientist, and chef. As the former Director of Product Development at JUST, Thomas created and scaled some of the best-selling plant-based products in market, such as JUST Mayo, Cookie Doughs, and Dressings. Thomas has also chef’d or staged at a total of 16 Michelin star restaurants, was named Zagat 30 Under 30, and was twice nominated for the James Beard Rising Star Chef award.

TC Chatterjee 
Griffith Foods

TC Chatterjee is the chief executive officer of Griffith Foods. Before assuming responsibilities as CEO in October 2016, he served as Griffith Foods’ chief operating officer and as group president for Central and South America, Asia Pacific, and India - Middle East. TC joined the organization in 2002 as vice president of Marketing for Custom Culinary, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Griffith Foods. After serving as general manager of the company, he assumed responsibility as the president of Custom Culinary, Inc., in 2007.

TC’s previous experiences include progressive management roles at Oberoi Hotels, at Best Foods and at Unilever Food Solutions. TC graduated Summa Cum Laude from the MBA program at Babson College, MA, received an MS in E Commerce from National University and holds a Masters in Hotel Management from the Oberoi School of Management in India. TC’s undergraduate studies were in Business and in Hospitality Management.

Working closely with Griffith Foods’ executive chairman, Brian Griffith, TC led the process of articulating Griffith’s Purpose and subsequently the brand transition to Griffith Foods. Most recently, TC led the development of Griffith Foods’ Purpose-driven strategy.

Lou Cooperhouse 
President & CEO

Lou Cooperhouse is recognized as a leading global authority in food business innovation and technology commercialization, with extensive leadership experiences throughout his 35-year career in the food industry. He is a results-driven professional, and has led cross-functional teams in a wide array of industry settings that include: multinational corporations, foodservice and retail operations, new business startups, mid-sized and family-run companies, university entrepreneurship and innovation centers, and industry trade associations. With his deep and diverse understanding of the food industry, Lou has spoken at hundreds of conferences throughout his career, specializing in food trends, disruptive technologies, and global best practices in business innovation and incubation.

Mark Crowell 
Founder & CEO
CuliNex, LLC

Since Mark founded the company in 2005, CuliNex has become a nationally recognized consultancy focusing on clean label product development. From CuliNex 20,000 square foot Innovation Center in Seattle, WA. Mark oversees an experienced team of Culinologists that assists food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers with achieving their growth goals through new product development.

Prior to CuliNex, Mark spent 7 years as Director of Food Product Development for Starbucks Coffee Company, where he led a team of food scientists and culinarians developing new food products for their Asian, European and North American markets. Previously, Mark served as Director, Menu and Product Development for The Olive Garden, managed restaurant operations and food service concepts for Marriott Corporation, and owned and operated a Mediterranean restaurant in the Washington D.C. area.

Mark has a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia University, a Bachelor of Science in Hotel-Restaurant Management from Florida International University, and an A.O.S. in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America. During a career spanning more than 40 years, Mark has led operations and product development teams, taught product development at the university level, spoken at numerous industry conferences, written for various food industry publications, and developed a reputation for producing outstanding results for some of the best-known brands in the food industry.

Robert Danhi 
Curator of Cultures
Flavor360 Solutions

Chef Danhi current mission is to curate, document, codify, archive and share the worlds culinary cultures hence has been working for the past four years to create a software system, to blend qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and capture the 360° Flavor Experience.

The Flavor360 team partners with organizations to efficiently capture the tribal knowledge of their organization during F&B field research, food tours, tastings, cuttings, recipe & formula R&D and collaborative flavor evaluations.

Bayyana Davis 
Senior Marketing Manager
International Flavors & Fragrances

Bayyana Davis is a Senior Marketing Manager at IFF specializing in the Savory and Beverage categories. She is a forward-thinking marketer with experience in providing consumer and market trends with actionable insights for a variety of customers and industries. Bayyana has a B.S. in Business with a Concentration in Marketing and an MBA, both from Montclair State University. As an avid foodie and cocktail enthusiast, Bayyana brings her love of travel, perfume, and art to her craft and immerses her customers in unique story-telling excursions tailored for discovery.

Patrick Devlin  
Co-Founder and President
Zoots® Premium Cannabis Infusions & Natural Extractions Inc. Seattle

Patrick co-founded Zoots Premium Cannabis Infusions, the first licensed cannabinoid infused edible company in Washington State. His responsibilities included production technology planning and implementation, product conception, brand development and marketing for our line of THC and CBD products. As the company grew, Patrick took the role of president of Natural Extractions, the licensing division of his company, where he quickly expanded their products into three additional states, becoming one of the first cannabis brands to achieve national exposure. They subsequently merged the company with Ionic Brands in September 2019. As a president of Natural Extractions, he was responsible for research product development and marketing for the Zoots®, LoLo™ and NRg™ brands of THC and CBD infused edible products.

Chef Ashley Doolin 
Associate Culinary Scientist

Great food starts with passion. Culinologist Ashley Doolin loves the creation of innovative foods and with her background in customer excellence, believes in creating amazing market-winning products to meet and exceed consumer needs.

Graduating at the top of her class from University of Cincinnati’s Culinary Arts and Science program with a Bachelors degree in Applied Science, Ashley also holds a degree in Culinary Arts and Technology from the Midwest Culinary Institute. Her creativity and innovative thinking have led to a successful career at ADM in Quality Control, where she focused on raw materials, finished flavors systems and analytical chemistry to Product Development in both beverages (powders, proteins and energy drinks) and food.

Ashley has depth and understanding across the food landscape and currently focuses her love of the culinary arts with the technological side of food science on saucing for ready meals, proteins, side dishes and dressing, dips and spreads, as well as the flexitarian meat and seafood alternative space.

As ADM’s Associate Culinary Scientist and a key member of the Culinary Customer Experience Excellence Team Chef Ashley supports customers with innovative culinary product design and flavor delivery.

Chef Christine Farkas 
Chef and Founder
IHeartFood Consulting

As a classically trained chef with a background in food product development and holistic nutrition; a few of Christine’s passions include working with plant-based proteins. She thrives on exploring and showcasing ingredients to industry and consumers through tangible applications. Her work focuses on recipe and product development, hands-on culinary workshops and presentations, and trend-spotting through local and global travel.

Ania Grimone MS, L.Ac., CH, CPCC 
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer
Synergy Performance, LLC

Ania Grimone is an expert on successfully navigating change. She holds a degree in Organization and Management, Masters in Oriental Medicine and is a Certified Co-Active Coach and health coach, board certified in acupuncture and herbal medicine.

She has spent the last two decades in the field of integrative medicine working at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital as well as at her private practice. She is a co-founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of Synergy Performance LLC., an innovative company merging food, herbal medicine and lifestyle interventions to positively impact well-being of individuals and communities.

Tim Hand 
Kinetic12, LLC

Tim is a partner at Kinetic12, a foodservice consulting firm based in Chicago. For the last 8 years Tim has consulted and led engagements with a variety of B2B and B2C clients to tackle a broad range of strategy, portfolio, innovation and research challenges - from developing insight libraries and business strategies, to training on strategic planning and marketing, to building long range innovation pipelines. Tim has more than 25 years’ experience in marketing and strategy. He worked at Kraft Foods for 17 years across a number of categories and brands. He managed the Canadian Kraft Foodservice business and was also head of strategy and business development for the $2B North American Foodservice division.

RJ Harvey RDN, CEC 
Culinary Director,
Potatoes USA

Chef Harvey is a Certified Executive Chef (CEC) as well as a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) who loves to create delicious, beautifully presented food that is healthful for the mind, body and soul. Over the past several years Chef RJ has lent his expertise to the revitalization of hospital cuisine at Morrison Healthcare, where he developed award winning concepts featured in Food Management magazine. In 2016 he launched a mobile teaching kitchen for Chartwells K-12 School Dining Services, a program tailored to teach students the importance of cooking at home for optimal flavor and nutrition. He currently oversees the culinary department for Potatoes USA, both foreign and domestic. He works closely with all marketing programs to promote the usage and increase the demand for U.S. grown potatoes. He is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Culinary Federation as well as the Research Chefs Association Healthy.

Gordon Heady 
Writer, Teacher and Sake Guide

Gordon Heady, a native of Portland, Oregon USA, began apprenticing under a Toji (Japanese master-brewer) at Japanese sake breweries in Fukuoka and Gifu beginning in 2013. Gordon also brewed in Ishikawa as an apprentice under the supervision of Mr. Noguchi Naohiko, considered by many to be the most accomplished Toji in Japan since his career began in 1949.

Gordon’s passion for sake began at Linfield College in the early 1990’s, where he received sake as a form of payment for tutoring Japanese students. Later in the late 1990’s, Gordon became a Founding Shareholder and the Inaugural Shareholder of the Year for SakeOne until his divestiture in the fall of 2012.

Beyond making sake for a living, for over 20 years Gordon has been working with importers, distributors, restaurants, grocery stores and consumers to promote the benefits of Japanese sake. His work has been featured in The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Oregonian, GQ Japan, Nishinippon Shimbun, and NHK World.

Currently a resident of Kyoto, Gordon is working as a writer, teacher and sake guide.

Dave Histed 
Culinary Innovation Manager
Retail Business Services (An Ahold Delhaize USA Company)

Dave Histed is the culinary innovation manager for Retail Business Services (a company of Ahold Delhaize USA) where he leads the development, implementation and execution of culinary innovation and renovation across the private brands portfolio of products. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY), his background includes Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton properties as well as culinary design services for clients such as the US Highbush Blueberry Council, the Almond Board of California and the Asterisk Uno professional sailing team. Known for his dynamic presentations and innovative cuisine, he has cooked throughout Europe and South America and has won numerous innovation awards including winning The Grocerant Chef's Solution Challenge, The Safeway Search for our Next Top Chef Challenge and a coveted position on the Share our Strength Conference of Leaders panel. Chef Dave is a longtime supporter of the non-profit Share our Strength, whose mission is to end childhood hunger.

Christine Hood 
Culinary Technician – Food & Beverage Solutions
Tate & Lyle

Christine Hood is a chef for Tate & Lyle’s culinary team in Hoffman Estates, IL and focuses on product development. She works across categories from bakery and nutrition, beverage, savory sauces, and soups and dressings. Christine is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America with a Bachelor’s Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, and is also an active member of the Research Chefs Association. She can be reached at christine.hood@tateandlyle.com or though Tate & Lyle’s website, www.tateandlyle.com.

Mike Kostyo 
Trendologist and Managing Editor
Market Intelligence team at Datassential

Mike Kostyo is the resident Trendologist and Managing Editor on the Market Intelligence team at Datassential, the food industry's leading market research and trends company. At Datassential, Kostyo oversees the company's seven TrendSpotting magazines, custom client publications, and he leads trend immersion tours and ideation sessions across the country. Kostyo was a recurring guest on Fusion TV's "The AV Club Show"; has been featured on WGN Radio, CBS Radio, and Gimlet Media's "Why We Eat What We Eat" podcast; is regularly featured in newspapers and magazines; speaks at numerous conferences across the country annually; and he was a judge on Food Network's "Eating America." He has a master’s in gastronomy from Boston University, plus certificates in the culinary arts, baking arts, wine, and artisan cheese production. In his spare time he teaches cooking classes and co-founded a monthly food swap in Chicago.

Agnes Lapinska 
Senior Manager, Customer Co-Creation North America
Ingredion Incorporated

Agnes has over 20 years of experience in the Food and Beverage Industry with emphasis on product innovation and growth of specialty ingredients. She has a unique combination of R&D background with progressive leadership in marketing and business disciplines.

At Ingredion, she leads the Customer Co-Creation program with focus on insight-to-market product development. Agnes has joined Ingredion Incorporated after receiving a BS in Chemistry from Rutgers University. At Ingredion Incorporated she held various customer facing functions across Culinology, Technical Service and Marketing. She also holds a Diploma of Culinary Arts from The Institute of Culinary Education, New York and MS in Food Marketing from St. Joseph University, Philadelphia.

David Lundahl 
Insights Now

Dr. David Lundahl founded InsightsNow, Inc. in 2003, with a vision and passion for integrating sensory and behavioral science to deepen consumer insights. In 2017, he was recognized as Change Agent of the Year by NextGen Marketing Research and Women in Research for his work on Clean Label, and was a 2018 instructor at the IFT Clean Label Workshop. David is an author on speed to market through behavioral insights (2012, “Breakthrough Food Product Innovation through Emotions Research”). He serves on the Oregon State University Food Science and Technology Department Advisory Board and School of Business Marketing Advisory Council. He was a 1996 founding faculty member for the Food Innovation Center (Portland, OR) and an Associate Professor within the Oregon State University Department of Food Science & Technology; has been a professional member of IFT since 1985; is an active speaker for regional IFT Sections; and Chaired the Sensory and Consumer Sciences Division of IFT in 2000.

Laura MacPhail 
MacPhail & Associates LLC

Laura MacPhail is President of MacPhail & Associates LLC, a strategic foodservice consultancy, and founder of Foodservice Immersion. Laura spent many years as a Senior Principal with The Hale Group, Ltd., a strategic management consulting firm focused on the food system. She was also EVP Strategy and Market Insights for CSSI Marketing + Culinary. Her clients have included dozens of major food and restaurant companies and many grower-directed and commodity groups. She has also worked with industry groups such as the WFF, FSMA, IFDA, IFMA, and the Coca Cola Retailing Research Council. Her practice centers on sales and marketing strategy development, brand awareness and positioning, trade channel requirements and education, and product innovation.  Her particular expertise is foodservice operators: their needs, their business practices, and their approach to supply chain partnerships. Laura was Chair of the IFMA Market Data Committee an active member for many years. She received the IFMA Sparkplug Award for her contributions to the foodservice industry. She was formerly Chair of the Women's Foodservice Forum Market Research Committee and also served on the Strategic Planning Committee. Laura is a former board member of the Women's Foodservice Forum. Laura spent several years in restaurant operations.

Chef Francisco Migoya 
Head Chef
Modernist Cuisine

Chef Francisco Migoya is the Modernist Cuisine head chef and co-author of Modernist Bread (2017). 

The five-volume groundbreaking book on bread won James Beard Foundation, International Association of Culinary Professionals, and Gourmand cookbook awards. Together with Nathan Myhrvold, he directs culinary research, including the development of new techniques and recipes.

He has been recognized as a top U.S. pastry chef and chocolatier, with accolades that include the Medal of Master Artisan Pastry Chef (2013) from Gremi de Pastisseria de Barcelona. Migoya owned Hudson Chocolates in New York and worked at both The French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery as executive pastry chef. Prior to joining Modernist Cuisine team, Migoya was a professor at The Culinary Institute of America, where his areas of instruction included bread, viennoiserie, pastry, and culinary science. Migoya’s book The Elements of Dessert (John Wiley & Sons, 2012), won a 2014 International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award in the Professional Kitchens category.

Migoya, Myhrvold, and the Modernist Cuisine team are currently conducting research and writing their next book Modernist Pizza.

Joseph O’Connor, CRC 
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer
Synergy Performance, LLC

Joseph O’Connor is a co-founder and Chief Creative Officer for Synergy Performance LLC., an innovative company merging food, herbal medicine and lifestyle interventions to positively impact well-being of individuals and communities.

He is a graduate of the CIA (Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park).

After 10 years in food service he transitioned to retail and manufacturing R&D,  alternating between the two sides of this industry fence, developing new products and food concepts in and for the retail food/service hybrid culture from hand made to mass produced foods and CPG’s.

Joseph has worked with the largest retail food brands in the country including Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Mariano’s.  He has been on the management teams of multiple companies that have gone on to successful acquisitions.

Jacquy Pfeiffer 
President and Founder
The French Pastry School, The Butter Book

Jacquy Pfeiffer, chef and co-founder of The Butter Book, began his career at a very young age.

As a son of a baker, Chef Jacquy first learned his baking talents working at his father’s boulangerie then as an apprentice with the famous Chef Jean Clauss at Jean Clauss Pâtisserie in Strasbourg, France. Following his apprenticeship, he graduated from Baldung Grien College with a degree in pastry science then entered the French Navy, where he performed as a pastry chef. He established a reputation as a leading figure in pastry by working at the world-renowned Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hong Kong, with the Royal Family in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the Sultan of Brunei. From there, he came to the United States to teach and inspire others at the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas.

In 1995, Chef Jacquy co-founded, along with Chef Sébastien, M.O.F., The French Pastry School in Chicago – one of the highest-ranking pastry schools in the world. In 2010, he was one of the featured pastry chefs in the documentary film “Kings of Pastry” directed by internationally acclaimed filmmakers, DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. He is the recipient of the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Cookbook, Baking & Desserts, “The Art of French Pastry.” He was named Knight by the French Government in the prestigious National Order of the Legion of Honor (Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur) in 2017. Chef Jacquy continues to bring his passion every day to both The French Pastry School and The Butter Book.

Carolyn Phillips
Market Insights Manager North America
Ingredion Incorporated

Carolyn Phillips has a long tenure in Market Research and Consumer Insights with a focus on custom research. At Ingredion, she leads the Insights Function for North America, partnering with the Marketing and Strategy teams among others to build Ingredion’s knowledge and expertise about the markets we serve with an emphasis on the consumer.

Prior to joining Ingredion, Carolyn held Market Insights roles on the supplier side and the client side with responsibility for delivering strategic and actionable insights to inform business decisions and guide consumer strategy. She has experience in the HealthCare/Pharmaceutical, CPG and B2B space. She holds an MBA from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

Dr. A.K. Pradeep
Author, Scientist, Entrepreneur & Global Business Consultant
Insights Association

Dr. Pradeep is a leading international business consultant and entrepreneur, having launched a series of successful firms across a number of categories. Most recently, he is the founder and CEO of machineVantage, an advanced high technology enterprise specializing in the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning for innovation in product development and marketing. Dr. Pradeep co-authored the new book, “AI For Marketing And Product Innovation”, which Amazon named the “#1 New Release in Business Management.”

Dr. Pradeep holds over 70 U.S. and international patents and has been published in a range of scientific journals.

His book “The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind” is a best seller published in multiple languages that offers an in-depth explanation of how the latest advances in neuroscience are impacting brands, products, packaging, in-store marketing, advertising, and entertainment content on a global basis. Dr. Pradeep earned his Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

Lori Rothman 
Lori Rothman Consulting

Lori Rothman is an experienced professional in the areas of Consumer Science and Sensory Evaluation, specializing in consumer products and packaging.   She is known for leveraging consumer and sensory insights to drive product innovation and business growth.  Her experience includes strategy development, department creation and staffing, sensory facility/infrastructure, cross-functional and cross-country relationship building, budgeting, and delivering business relevant results.

Ken Rubin 
Chief Culinary Officer

Ken Rubin is an internationally recognized culinary executive with expertise in training & development, culinary wellness, content production, online & mobile learning, culture and behavior change, lifestyle health, ethnography, special diets, food preferences, nonprofit advocacy, media and content strategy, food-centered design, product ideation, plant-based product development, and sensory analysis.

Chef Andre Rush 
Celebrity Chef and U.S. Military Veteran

Chef Andre Rush is renown as one of the top chefs in the United States military, and retired as Master Sergeant. He has represented the Army resulting in over 100 new soldiers joining the forces. He was also a member of the United States Culinary Arts Team where he competed and won 150 medals and trophies.

Chef Andre Rush was the Senior Enlisted Aide to the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy. In this capacity he served as Senior Aide and advisor for DVQ’s, dignitaries and high profile VIPs.

He joined the military as a reservist where he would later switch over to active Army in July of 1993. He has spent time at Fort Stewart, 503 Infantry at Camp Casey Korea, Fort Campbell Kentucky and Fort Bragg North Carolina.

In September 1996 he served as the Joint and Vice Chief of Staff for eight general officers and four Chief of Staff of the Army over the next three years. Moving to West Point soon after, Chef Rush had the opportunity to work for four Superintendents as well as ASI Finance CMD GO Washington DC. He has also worked in the White House and the Presidential Guest House.

Chef Rush has deployed multiple times and has held a variety of leadership positions to include Senior Advisor, Enlisted Aides, Operational Manager, and Foodservice Manager.

He has served as a hand-to-hand combat trainer to over 1,000 cadets, airmen, soldiers, marines and civilians. He trained over 10,000 troops in the art of culinary and was called upon Army wide to assist in teaching other senior and junior aides. He has volunteered his entire career and rendered his services for the Core of cadets for the last 10 years.

Chef Andre Rush holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management from TUI; Associates degree from Culinary Stafford University; and Associates degree in Hotel Restaurant Management from Central Texas. He is also certified in Household/Estate Management from Starkey International; Sommelier Course from Denver Colorado; CCNA; ACF; and Certified Ice Carver.

Bob Ryan 
Shields Meneley Partners

Bob left his corporate career 5 years ago to follow his passion of advising others on career and life journeys.

Chef Nate Schomers 
Executive Research Chef for EMEA
ADM Berlin

As a “Midwesterner” Nate has a great affinity for farmers markets, fresh fruits and vegetables, and classical comfort foods. Educated in the US with both a BSc in Hospitality Management with a Culinology focus and an AAS in Culinary Arts, Nate is a Certified Research Chef from the Association of Certified Research Chefs (CRC).

Training under First Culinologist John Kennedy of Wells Dairy Inc., Nate has been Chef Manager of the farm to table concept restaurant/Organic Heirloom Vegetable & Herb Farm: Lucky Dreamer Herb Farm/Caboodle Café in Lynd MN and cooked at two top Melbourne Australia restaurants: Pearl, where he focused on international, seafood and modern Australian cuisines, and B’Coz specializing in certified organic Thai and Vietnamese inspired foods. Nate gives back by coaching many student culinary and culinology competition teams and is on trend to please Millennial and Gen Z palates utilizing his training and experience in Latin cuisines, such as South and Central American and Mexican, Southern Indian Keralan, South East Asia influenced cuisine and classical French cooking and service.

With over 10 years of Gold Standard product development expertise and rapid-prototyping, Nate is very experienced in developing ready to eat and convenience meals, salad dressings, meat marinades, retorted & frozen soups, breading and coatings and even pet foods.

Chef John Stephanian 
Chef & VP, Global Culinary & Innovation

John developed his passion for delicious food growing up in a family of restauranteurs, learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business at an early age. After entering culinary school at the Cooking and Hospitality School of Chicago, his interest enlarged to encompass authentic fusions from the diverse global culinary landscape. Further leading him to train in southern Spain, Greece, China and a handful of other culinary epicenters around the world.

Back in the United States, John worked in several fine dining establishments throughout Chicago and Detroit before shifting his focus to a career in culinary research and development.

Today, John continues to feed his passion for global cuisine while searching for hidden culinary gems, typically engrained in unique cultures, as he travels the globe to learn more about flavors, textures, cooking techniques and ingredients. Additional inspiration comes from dining at some of the world’s best restaurants: Sukiyabashi Jiro, NOMA, Osteria Francescana, and D.O.M., to name a few.

Dr. Mehmet Tulbek 
Director, Research & Development
AGT Foods

Dr. Mehmet Tulbek is the Director of AGT Foods Research & Development Centre in Saskatoon, Canada. Mehmet has over 20 years of experience in cereal, pulse and oilseed processing, technology and utilization technologies. Mehmet concluded his B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering with the emphasis of Food Science and Technology at Ankara University, his M.Sc. in Food Engineering at Istanbul Technical University in Turkey and his Ph.D. in Cereal Science at North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND. Before joining AGT Foods, Mehmet worked at Northern Crops Institute as Technical Director and Crop Quality Specialist and led the development of NCI pulse, oilseed and specialty crop technical, educational and international outreach programs. Mehmet is the author of several journal articles, book chapters, proceedings and presented technical presentations globally. Mehmet is a member of AACCI, AOCS, IFT, CNS and AAFCO organizations.

Chef Gerard Viverito 
Corporate Chef and Culinary Advisor

Chef Gerard Viverito is Corporate Chef and Culinary Advisor to BlueNalu, and provides his expertise in the creation of delicious recipes and flavor combinations for our cell-based seafood products, with preparations for both foodservice and retail formats.

Chef Gerard also serves on the prestigious faculty — as an Associate Professor in Culinary Arts — at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where he teaches the Seafood Identification & Fabrication class. In addition, he is the Co-founder and Director of Culinary Education for PassionFish.org, a non-profit organization in San Diego dedicated to teaching and promoting environmentally sound alternatives to endangered seafood species. He travels around the world educating, consulting and demonstrating cooking, using sustainable seafood products to ensure fish for our future.

Chef Gerard has dedicated a large part of his career to what he terms “functional cooking.” This is where he adds nutritional ingredients to dishes to gain healthful results. He is well known for his ability to lower the glycemic index value of food, and add omega fatty acids and whole proteins to dishes without compromising the texture or taste. He appears regularly on radio and television programs demonstrating his expertise and consulting clients on their dietary needs.

Maeve Webster 
Menu Matters

Maeve Webster, President of Menu Matters, is a leading consultant and thought leader for the foodservice industry. She has spearheaded hundreds of major industry studies during her 18 years as a foodservice specialist, and today runs a private consultancy focused on working with foodservice professionals to analyze, understand, and leverage food and consumer behavior trends. It’s less important to understand what’s growing or declining than the why and the what does this mean for us.

In addition to her consulting work, Maeve owns a café in Bennington, VT, running the kitchen and designing the menu. This has not only been a labor of love but has brought to life the issues she has consulted on for nearly two decades. She is a sought after speaker, appearing at top industry events such as Flavor Experience, World of Flavors, MISE, RCA, National Restaurant Association Show, and New Products Conference; and has contributed to major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNBC, MSNBC and CBS. She is a regular contributor to several industry publications.

Zak Weston 
Foodservice Analyst
Good Foods Institute

Zak works at the Good Food Institute (GFI), an international nonprofit focused on creating a healthy, just, and sustainable foodsystem through plant-based protein innovation and cellular agriculture. He consults with leading foodservice operators and food companies to help increase the quality and quantity of their plant-based offerings and meet the growing consumer demand for plant-based foods.

An active member of the Effective Altruism community, Zak holds a B.A. in Business Management from Cedarville University, and joined GFI after several years of experience in sales and working with startups.