Christine van Rooy,NCIDQ
VANROOY design, LLC.
Christine van Rooy’s entire career has been dedicated to the development & success of bars and restaurants. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Christine started in hospitality at the age of 15. She has worked her way up from server to manager, while completing her advanced education in Architectural Design. Upon receiving her degree, Christine chose to continue specializing in the development of new hospitality concepts; restaurants, boutique hotels, nightclubs, and casinos on an international scale.
She gained her experience working with recognized restaurant and bar corporations such as Hillstone Restaurant Group, J. Alexanders, MGM International, The Venetian/Sands Corporation to name a few. Drawing from this broad base of relevant experience, Christine creates highly rational and energetic design concepts that embrace both the practical and aesthetic requirements of her clients, resulting in spaces that are both fun and functional.
Since creating VANROOY design, Christine and Jerry have made it their passion to work with independent restaurant and bar owners. Providing them the tools they need to stand out in an ever changing hospitality landscape. They created an alliance of professionals in branding, graphics, marketing, food consulting, menu development & business development … who all work together to create kick-ass establishments.
Within the studio, Christine provides critical oversight of the design process, from initial strategic planning exercises through the development of construction documents. She uses a deep understanding of her client’s brand and culture to inform creative, cost-effective design solutions that support their business paradigms. Throughout the design phases, she ensures that these key concepts are translated into the project details and documentation, and then executed to the high standards established by the practice. Christine is a certified interior designer and holds a Bachelor of Interior Design degree from California State University at Long Beach.
Christine has been recognized as one of the Top 20 New Designers to Watch and her restaurants have won awards such as "Best New Restaurant", “Best New Bar”, “Top 100 Grossing Bars in the Nation”, and the list goes on.
Christine continues to participate as a professional mentor for her industry through and annual keynote lecture series, mentoring, and workshops.
Bill Nolan is the owner of Nolan Hospitality (NH), a food-focused company based in Darien, IL. NH specializes in group presentations, cooking classes, food photography, marketing for farmers and vendors, and general consulting. Bill believes in scratch cooking and healthy food whenever possible.
Bill has over 20 years’ experience in the restaurant and education industries. He received his culinary training at Elgin Community College’s School of Hospitality Management, where he served as a chef-educator on the adjunct faculty after graduation.
Bill volunteers as a chef instructor at Wellness House in Hinsdale, IL. and is also a volunteer chef mentor with Fox Valley Food for Health, in Geneva, IL.
Pamela Waitt, President and Co-Founder of the OC Restaurant Association, Inc
The objective of the OC Restaurant Association, Inc. is to illuminate the Orange County restaurant industry. Pam Waitt is best known for launching “Orange County Restaurant Week” in 2008 which is the region’s most celebrated dining event and brings the county together through food. She is known for her visionary spirit and leadership abilities along with a commitment of bringing people together through food. Pam is the executive producer and creator of the Golden Foodie Awards. The association is also the company behind the Pacific Wine and Food Festival. Pam believes that food has power and connects us all. She enjoys creating innovative, fun events that appeal to all palates.
Violet Lucas, Spitzer Lucas Family Foundation
Bob Walker, VP Creative Services at Tommy Hilfiger
Scott Johnson, WTBI Media Group
Ellen Chen & Mario Del Pero
Co-Founders, Mendocino Farms
Mario got started in the restaurant business when he was still a student at USC, helping to build Baja Sharkeez into the dominant Beach Lifestyle concept it is today, with units in a number of Southern California beach communities. After Sharkeez, Mario created Skew’s Teriyaki, one of the first Fast Casual Asian concepts.
After graduating with a degree in economics from UCSD, Ellen became a consultant for the prestigious Accenture Consulting firm where she facilitated the growth initiatives and improvements for top Fortune 100 companies. She honed her business acumen at the marketing firm of Suissa Miller and at dot-com start-up Target Marketing Interactive. After being part of the internet success of the 1990's, Ellen Chen met Mario and invested in Skew's Teriyaki. Together, they grew Skew's to three units in Los Angeles before selling the company in 2001.
Determined to lead through empowerment and build a thriving business from just a good idea and a lot of passion, they created Mendocino Farms and opened their first unit on Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles in 2005. Since then, Mendocino Farms restaurants have opened in twelve additional locations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, taking their place as some of the most loved and highest grossing sales per foot restaurants in the neighborhoods they serve. After receiving an investment from private equity firm Catterton Partners and a minority investment from Whole Foods Market, Mendocino Farms is preparing to grow to 25 units by 2018.
Mario continues to be the harbinger of the Mendocino Farms lifestyle, while Ellen offers the restaurant group a big business perspective with an entrepreneur's passion.