Justine Hunter is the Restaurant National Practice Leader for Moss Adams and has served the restaurant industry for over 30 years—Previously a partner with Ernst & Young, she has extensive experience managing multiple client service relationships that include audit and tax services (including cost-efficient first-time audits going back two to three years), assistance with purchase price allocations, and accounting interpretations for transactions with private equity firms. She has worked with many restaurant concepts from 5 locations to over 1000 locations, specializing in audit and due diligence and buy/sell transactionsType your paragraph here.
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. 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 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. 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.
Valerie Christopherson, Global Results Communication
As CEO and Founder of Global Results Communications (GRC), Valerie is responsible for client strategy, growth and profitability of GRC and international operations in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Over her 20-year career in the mobile and technology industries, she has provided strategic counsel and campaign management to a wide range of successful public relations and social media programs on behalf of major trade associations, Fortune 500 companies and start-ups.
Prior to founding GRC in 2005, Valerie worked with mobile, telecom and technology clients while at Porter Novelli Convergence Group. In addition, Valerie spent time in-house at QUALCOMM as well as worked for niche agencies centered on global clients. Valerie holds a B.A. in communications with an emphasis on public relations as well as a B.A. in English from California State University, Fullerton. She also completed a certificate program in Social and Digital Media from the University of Irvine. In her personal life, Valerie enjoys spending time with her son, participating in a wide-variety of charity events and attending concerts around the world.
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
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.
Paula Robison, Director, Global Client Group American Express Global Business Travel
Paula’s passion for the hospitality industry has been evident in her work with Share our Strength/Taste of the Nation for over 20 years when she served as a shopping center marketing director and facilitated Taste of the Nation events at her properties in Lexington, KY and Cleveland, OH. She continued that work with local San Diego Taste of the Nation events as marketing committee member with Golden Rule Charity Founder, Judy Walker.
Throughout her tenure with American Express, Paula was a leader in the launch of the American Express Prepaid programs. This entrepreneurial spirit inside a large corporation allowed focus and flexibility to grow a new business and brand within the organization. That spirit continued when she moved into the Global Client Group at American Express Global Business Travel. Focus on relationship and client management has been a key component to Paula’s success.
Paula is also focused on expanding her knowledge of wine and spirits and has achieved the WSET Level 2 Award in Wine & Spirits and the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines. She enthusiastically volunteers for both SommCon® and the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival each year.
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.
Kelly Lam, The Whole Purpose
Kelly Lam is a wellness expert and founder of The Whole Purpose, a company that offers individuals and corporations an innovative approach to physical and emotional wellbeing through Mindful Wellness and Purposeful Communication.
After many years working in corporate America, Kelly realized the vital need for healthy and balanced wellness solutions. Through her first-hand experience, she has brought ‘whole’ solutions to various global corporations and exercises her talents by producing corporate and specialty events that are customized to promote individual health on a broad scale.
Kelly’s passion and expertise combine to create a unique connection with her clients that stems from her own personal journey towards wellness, coupled with the desire to empower others. With many years in the wellness and nutrition sector, Kelly is a seasoned consultant and teacher of yoga, nutrition and health programs designed to achieve optimal wellbeing.
Kelly is an active philanthropist and serves as a board member for several non-profits and organizations including, Project Hope Alliance, The Center for Living Peace, The Center for Spirituality, Hoag Hospital’s Woman’s Committee and the University of La Verne’s President’s Advisory Council. Her passion to help the community is shown through Kelly’s hard work and desire to help others live happy and healthy lives.
Rob Wilson. Montage Laguna Beach
Executive Chef Rob Wilson joined Montage Laguna Beach in 2010 to oversee culinary
operations with an emphasis on special events. As Executive Chef, he manages the day-today operations of the main kitchens and ensures that the best quality products are used
throughout the property.
Chef Wilson has an extensive culinary background, and is a graduate of Culinary Institute of
America (CIA) in New York. He began his culinary career when was just a teenager and
started as a dishwasher at the Dana Point, California Chart House restaurant. He quickly
worked his way to head cook and excelled from there.
His culinary path has included time at Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, California,
where he worked as a Sous Chef, and he eventually went on to be co-owner and Executive
Chef of, Cervino’s in Mammoth Lakes, California. Prior to joining Montage Laguna Beach,
Chef Wilson spent the past thirteen years with The Ritz Carlton company, most recently
serving as Executive chef at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Here he worked at various
locations in California and was part of the opening team for seven of their hotels across the
U.S. He was also named “Chef of the Year” in 2008 by Chef Magazine.
Chef Wilson enjoys the outdoors, and activities such as: surfing, stand up paddle boarding,
snowboarding and riding motorcycles. He currently resides in Laguna Niguel, California with
his wife and two children