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Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit | Europe 2018


Matthew Kirby

CEO | Chozen Noodle & Chow Asian Kitchen

Matthew Kirby leased his first pub from Inntrepreneur in 1990, which was then followed by a move into the restaurant business when he started the Mongolian Barbeque chain in London. This soon became an International based business which saw him relocate to the USA as the business grew to over 40 outlets around the world. In 2007, he returned home and started the UK branch of Fishbowl Marketing. In 2012, he returned to full time hospitality operations founding the Chozen Holdings Group, which operates the Chozen Noodle and Chow Asian Kitchen brands and has a total of 40 locations across the UK. including both franchise and owner operations.

Andy Wiederhorn

CEO | FAT Brands

Andy Wiederhorn has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of leading global franchising company FAT Brands Inc. since its formation. Andy has served as the Chairman of the board of directors and Chief Executive Officer of Fatburger North America, Inc. since 2006 and the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Buffalo’s Franchise Concepts, Ponderosa Steakhouse, Bonanza Steakhouse and Bonanza Steak & BBQ since their respective acquisitions. He also served as the Chairman of the board of directors and Chief Executive Officer of Fog Cutter Capital Group Inc. since its formation in 1997.


David Baer

COO | Firenza

Dave Baer started as a driver for Domino’s Pizza while in college 1991. He managed a Domino’s Pizza store in 1994 and was Rookie manager of the year. From 1994-1998, he held positions of Supervisor, Senior Supervisor and Training Director of Corporate operations at Domino’s Pizza in the Northeast. From 1998-2012, he was VP of Operations of a 17 store Franchise. Since 2012, he has been the Director of Operations at the Zinga Franchise group and multi unit franchisee. From 2014 to present, he has been President and COO/ Co Founder of Firenza Pizza. He has since opened locations across the country.

Mario C. Bauer

Entrepreneur & Advisor | Vapiano & Curtice Brothers Organic Ketchup

Mario C. Bauer is an entrepreneur and advisor to Vapiano. For almost a decade he was responsible at Vapiano as an executive for international growth & partnerships. He and his team have opened and continue to operate over 200 restaurants in 33 countries around the globe. While growing up in his family’s restaurant in Austria, Mario developed an entrepreneurial mindset from a young age by founding several startups such as Bagel Station (bagel & coffee shop concept) or Papernomad (sustainable ipad sleeves). His current adventure is Curtice Brothers, an organic boutique ketchup cooked in Tuscany, where he can live up to this credo, that in life only two things matter “Love & Food”.

Sylvia Bennett

Feng Shui Consultant | Feng Shui Living

Sylvia Bennett has a special flair for effectively transposing traditional Feng Shui into the context of contemporary lifestyle, whilst retaining its authentic foundation. She has a dedicated passion for her work and for her clients’ success, which is why her consulting focuses on caring about you just as much as your property and its surrounding environment. Sylvia’s well-established reputation as an exceptionally accomplished consultant has been gained through her professional expertise, conscientious integrity, and the outstanding personal support she gives to every client. Sylvia has over two decades of practice experience as an accredited traditional Feng Shui consultant and is Honorary Life Fellow of the Feng Shui Society.

George Bertram

Commercial Director | Rocket Restaurants

George has worked in the hospitality industry since leaving school. He worked his way up from the bottom and has worked in Night Clubs, Style Bars, Hotels and Restaurants, with his passion being casual dining Restaurants. He has previously worked for some of the largest operators in the market and is now the Group Commercial Director for Rockets Restaurant Group which comprises of Eddie Rockets, Rockets, Counter Burger and Flash Harry’s.

Aaron Brewer

Associate Director of Franchise Relations | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants

Aaron Brewer currently serves as Director of Franchise Relations at Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. Aaron has been with the Dickey’s brand for seven years, starting out on the Dickey’s training team in 2011 and evolving her role to be more hands on with franchisees. A piece of her current role includes traveling the nation with Mr. Dickey, the founder of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, meeting with owners and hosting events. Aaron has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry for over 20 years. In her time at Dickey’s, she has developed several training and culture standards for the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit brand.

Christopher Brinkley

Director, Investor Relations | World Franchise Associates

Founder member of World Franchise Associates. His franchise experience goes back to 1996 in staging the UK’s National Franchise Exhibitions over 4 years. As well as directing WFA’s own international franchise events, he is Director of Investor Relations to support the Company’s growing portfolio of international Brands in Europe, the MENA Region, Asia, Latin America and the Far East. Currently working with the SMEA franchise program in Saudi Arabia.

Cherryh Cansler

Managing Editor |

Before joining Networld Media Group as Director of Editorial, where she oversees NetWorld Media Group’s nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she’s written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness news. Her byline has appeared in a plethora of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for

Shane Chorley

Co-Founder & Director | Chorley’s Sauces & Chorley’s Restaurant

Shane Chorley turned his back on a career in finance to pursue a passion and belief in a table sauce recipe that had been created during his family’s time in Zimbabwe. The brand is now known (simply) as Chorley’s. Chorley’s have increased their portfolio from just the one sauce at inception to a range of five with more in development, three South African inspired meat products (two dried and one fresh) and, most recently, the first Chorley’s Grill and Takeaway opened late 2016. Motivated and inspired by the success of brands like Nando’s, Chorley’s delivers a range of internationally inspired dishes that tell the family’s story.

Kris De Coster

Business Unit Manager International Markets | Burger Brands Belgium

Kris De Coster has an 18 year career in the restaurant and distribution sector at Carrefour, Campanile hotels and Autogrill, amongst others. More recently he has been working at Quick Restaurants for the last 8 years. During his career at Quick Restaurants he has been responsible for franchise relations in Belgium before embarking on the international development of the brand. He has managed the development of the brand in Turkey, Russia, The Middle East and North Africa as well as the French overseas territories. Since the take over of Quick Restaurants by Burger King, he is managing the hand-over and sales process of the international markets.

Laura Rea Dickey

CEO | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants

Laura Rea Dickey currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. Laura served as the Chief Information Officer for eight years, and made the transition to CEO after excelling in her previous role. She has worked in the marketing and information technology field for over 15 years, and has led the marketing, IT and training departments at Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. during her time there. After graduating from Texas Christian University in 2001, Dickey went on to work at agencies such as Murray Brown Creative Group and The Richards Group. Laura’s specialty is the intersection of technology and marketing, turning data insights into brand and business solutions.

Jonathan Doughty

Global Head of Foodservice | ECE

Jonathan Doughty is Global Head of Foodservice at ECE. He is responsible for leading ECE’s global food and beverage activities, for existing and new projects as well as the key relationships with the ECE food and beverage partners and tenants. In November 2017 he launched the “We Love Food” programme across the business. Jonathan actively participates in the concept development of foodservice with our investors, partners and the varied stakeholders in the ECE business and our properties. During his 40 years in the foodservice industry, Jonathan has operated around the world extensively in the hotel and restaurant industry, before starting the innovative foodservice consultancy, “Coverpoint”.

David Drain

Senior VP of Events | Networld Media Group

David Drain leads the events team for Networld Media Group and has more than 20 years of experience in association management, event planning, writing and speaking. He has served as executive director of the Digital Signage Association (a group he co-founded), the Self-Service & Kiosk Association and the merged organization, Digital Screenmedia Association. Previously he was EVP for the Foodservice Consultants Society International.

Brian Duckett

Chairman | The Franchising Centre

Brian Duckett has spent forty years in franchising as a franchisee, franchisor and advisor to potential and practising franchisors, including ten years as a British Franchise Association board member. He is chairman of The Franchising Centre which is Europe’s leading firm of franchise development and recruitment consultants with twenty UK-based franchise practitioners and associated consultants and brokers in more than sixty countries.

Peter Fagerholm

CEO & Co-founder | FRIENDS & BRGRS

Peter Fagerholm has over 25 years of experience in the food business. He has held leading positions in sales, marketing and strategy within the Snellman group in Finland. He has an in-depth knowledge of consumer behaviour, and extensive skills in strategic leadership, communication and branding. He strongly believes in clean label and has a strong vision that trust in food business can only be built through transparency. He is the CEO at Friends & Brgrs, a burger chain founded in 2014 and with six restaurant in three countries. Friends & Brgrs is defining their segment as Fresh Casual.

Chris Fung

Former CEO | Crussh Fit Food & Juice Bars & Non-Exec Director of various Food/FoodTech businesses

Christopher Fung is the former CEO of Crussh Fit Food & Juice Bars and now a NED/Board Advisor/Investor in a number of disruptive high-growth potential Food/FoodTech and Ed/EdTech businesses. Having led Crussh for over 13 yrs, Chris is giving back by sharing his experience with the next generation of entrepreneurs and is involved in a number of businesses from Music Tech for restaurants, Healthy pot noodles & Smart Vending machines, to customer engagement tech for hospitality and retail amongst other things!

Alex Gallagher


At UNiDAYS, the world’s leading student affinity network, Alex Gallagher is responsible for devising and driving both the consumer and trade marketing strategies. Using the latest technologies, in-depth data and insights, Alex oversees social, content, CRM and PR to deliver against ambitious growth and engagement targets, utilizing a range of channels to increase brand awareness and reach among the world’s student population and ensure the optimal mix of brand partners on the network.

Don Hawkins, Jr.

Group VP, Emerging Chains, Government & Retail | Middleby Corporation

Don Hawkins is the Group VP for Emerging Chains, Government and Retail at Middleby Corporation. His teams interface directly with Emerging and Re-Emerging Foodservice companies to increase product quality, increase operational efficiencies as well as speed of service, and to reduce labor and utility costs via foodservice equipment designed and built around their specific needs. Don has over 30 years in the industry as both an executive in foodservice equipment manufacturing and as a provider of equipment and services to restaurant chains. He’s known for providing new and creative solutions to issues and problems for customers both globally and domestically.

Paul Hurley

Founder | Dum Dum Donutteries

Entrepreneur & Artisan doughnut chef Paul Hurley is the Founder of Dum Dum Donuts and since 1997 he had the vision to create ‘The Best Donut In The World’. Although a grand statement, Paul, or ‘The Donut Guy’ as he has become known, believed this has to be at the heart of the brand. Our entire Dum Dum team of Donuteers are pastry chefs or apprentices who have a real passion for good honest food. We are an independent British company that offers high quality, natural artisan doughnuts that are uniquely baked fresh every day. With successful outlets in Shoreditch, Brighton, Westfield London and Intu Lakeside.

Stacey Kane

CMO | Mahana Poke & Firenza Pizza

Stacey Kane has more than 22 years of experience working with multi-unit restaurant chains. Stacey is part of the launch team of Mahana Poke, an innovative fast casual experience that will open its first location later this year. In 2016, Stacey joined Firenza Pizza a leader in the premium fast casual pizza segment. Prior to that she served as the Chief Marketing Officer of the 35 unit comfort casual chain, East Coast Wings + Grill for almost 2 years. In 2007, Stacey started at California Tortilla, where she was known for her incredible creativity as the VP of marketing.

Jerry Gamez

Partner & EVP, Chief Development Officer | Consumer Investment Partners AG

Jerry Gamez is a Partner & EVP, Chief Development Officer at Consumer Investment Partners AG. He is a co-founder and member of the executive board of CIP AG. He is responsible for the expansion of their portfolio group of restaurants and beverage companies around the globe. Prior to this role, Jerry was Chief Expansion & Franchising Officer, Chief Operations Officer, and President of Stripped Brand Pizza at CIP AG. From 2011 to 2014, Jerry was a Partner at Burger King after the 3G acquisition. At Burger King, he held the positions of; Partner, General Manager Nordics & Netherlands in Amsterdam and Partner, EMEA.

Rodrigo Moreno Masey

Director | MorenoMasey

MorenoMasey founder Rodrigo Moreno Masey is a member of RIBA and ARB and has spent the past 18 years in private practice, notably working for 11 years as a director with the firm Michaelis Boyd, before going on to establish his own practice. He has grown the company to a comfortable team of 20, a size at which he is able to maintain control over the creative and technical process in each project that they undertake.

Melissa McCormick

SVP, Global Sales, Service & Marketing | Taylor

Melissa McCormick has worked in the foodservice industry for over 30 years at the Taylor Company. Taylor Company is the manufacturer of frozen dessert, frozen beverage and cooking equipment. Her Taylor experience includes roles with international sales, marketing, and strategic account management of large and medium sized Quick Service Restaurants. As with most people in the foodservice industry, this is her passion. Working with customers who serve ice cream, margaritas & burgers….who wouldn’t be passionate? She has lived in Spain & Ecuador and loves to travel wherever she can. She’s dedicated to mission work, her family, and Taylor.

Jacob Neal

Director | Avalanche Enterprise

Jacob Neal is the COO of Avalanche Enterprise and alongside the CEO has taken Avalanche Enterprise to the Global Market in the space of just three years. Avalanche Enterprise is a digital marketing agency specialising in it’s work with franchises of all sizes. Working both with the senior teams in franchises to attract and retain more franchisees, develop brand awareness and with individual franchisees to increase traffic to each branch. From a university bedroom in 2017 Jacob is managing global clients and a team across 3 countries. Avalanche Enterprise works to consistently connects you to future business on a global scale.

Steven Novick

Founder | Farmstand

Steven grew up in a working class family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin across the street from a farm. Survived cancer in 2006 and set (and has now achieved) three goals: become closer to friends and family; see the world (finish climbing the Seven Summits including Everest); and start a healthy food business. Farmstand is a healthy and sustainable food tech company founded in London in January 2016. The company offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and snacks. They operate 17 multi-format Farmstands in London. They sell their products via 3 distribution channels: their fast-casual restaurant, at corporates and online.

Alan O’Neill

Co-Founder | Freshii GB

Alan O’Neill is a director and co-founder of the company that operates the Freshii master franchise in Great Britain. Freshii GB have opened 2 locations so far this year and look forward to the imminent opening of their first franchised location. Alan is also the founder and CEO of Ezora, a cloud based financial control and analytics solution, that is used by high growth franchisees of leading brands including Starbucks, Mc Donalds, Costa Coffee, Dominos Pizza as well as many smaller local brands across Europe and recently North America. Alan is passionate about the role that technology and good data can play in assisting operators to optimise their operation.

Phil Peters

Managing Director | Zing Zing

Despite starting out in the food kiosks of Watford Football Club, it was almost 15-years before Phil would step back into the food industry, joining Zing Zing in the summer of 2016 as its new Operations Director. Prior to entering the world of Chinese takeout, Phil spent several years working as a management consultant, specialising in customer experience and fulfillment. Phil’s focus remains delivering Zing Zing’s ambitious roll-out plan and making sure that quality and service becomes even more awesome as the business scales. Phil has three decades of deep industry expertise, albeit on the consumer side.

Marco Reick

People Director | Leon Restaurants

Marco joined LEON Restaurants at the end of 2016 as People Director, having spent three and a half years at the fledgling Bill’s Restaurants as part of the directors team taking Bill’s from newcomer to nationwide restaurant brand during its rapid expansion. Prior to this he spent more than six years at The Restaurant Group plc whilst the group was going through a period of significant growth. LEON’s mission is to make it easier for everyone to live and eat well, and this is true for both customers and the LEON team. Marco is passionate about ensuring this mission is well and truly alive as LEON grows its franchise operation.

Ron Simpson

Co-Owner | The Avocado Show

“You don’t have to know exactly what you’re doing to be successful.“ Creative serial entrepreneur Ron Simpson [33] discovered this life philosophy at quite a young age and never ever looked back. After setting up and selling a few startups varying from marketing to music and events to fashion, his latest challenge “The Avocado Show”, a restaurant based in Amsterdam, took the whole world by storm with hundred millions of views, huge worldwide fan bases, daily lines in front of the door, multi millions in funding, sparring sessions with the leaders of the industry, fans camping outside and 5 award nominations.

Vickie Sims

Global Brand Marketing Manager | Taylor

Speaker bio coming soon!

Daniel Spinath

Founder & Managing Director | Crepeaffaire

Daniel Spinath is the Founder and Managing Director of Crepeaffaire, the market-leading international crêpes concept, and the Co-Founder/Director of Frizzenti, the leading wine on tap company. He started his career with Regent International Hotels, followed by senior marketing, strategy and general management positions at Citibank, Procter & Gamble, H.J. Heinz and Viacom around the globe. Prior to founding Crepeaffaire and Frizzenti, Daniel was a Management Board Director at Eurotunnel PLC/SA.

Tommi Tervanen

CEO | Kotipizza Group

Tommi Tervanen is the CEO of Kotipizza Group. He is also the chairman of The Finnish Franchising Association. His career started at the leading Finnish retail company Kesko where he worked as product manager. In the early 2000s, he founded the sourcing and logistics operator Helsinki Foodstock which has since grown into an over 50 MEu business. He started as CEO of Kotipizza Group in 2011. The Kotipizza Group consists of Kotipizza, the largest pizza chain in the Northern Europe, Chalupa, a Mexican style fast casual restaurant chain, and Helsinki Foodstock. The Kotipizza chain has significantly revamped its concept in the past few years and changed its marketing strategy completely.

Alice Theunissen

Director of Operations & Business Development | New York Pizza

Alice Theunissen has been heading up the Operations and Development department of New York Pizza since 2015. New York Pizza is a Dutch Franchised pizza delivery business that will have 200 stores by the end of 2018. Prior to joining New York Pizza, Alice worked at Starbucks Coffee Company and was involved in developing Starbucks licensing programme across Europe. Alice’s motto is “I believe in nurturing a strong team culture to focus and drive valuable change.”

Yuval Tori

Head of Europe | Bringg

Yuval Tori has over 15 years of international business development experience in various enterprise markets. Prior to Bringg, Yuval was EVP and GM at Prime Focus Technologies, where he focused on growing the company’s business in the EMEA markets. Earlier, he was with Pilat Media, Amdocs and Comverse where he successfully led sales, business development and alliance teams. Yuval is also a former lawyer with specialization in company law and torts. He holds an MBA, LLB and BA in Economics degrees.

Mika “Pikkis” Tuomonen

The Burgermeister | Social Burgerjoint

For 15 years, Mika “Pikkis” Tuomonen worked as IT expert for companies such as IBM and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. In 2012, Tuomonen pursued his dream of becoming a professional foodie and entered the televised MasterChef Finland competition, which he won. Victory gave Tuomonen the encouragement and connections to develop a new fast casual concept, Social Burgerjoint. At its heart is the tastiest possible premium burger, made out of high-quality, responsibly produced ingredients and cooked in a sizzling hot mibrasa oven. In 2016, Tuomonen joined forces with chef Herkko Volanen. In the same year, the first Social Burgerjoint restaurant was opened in Helsinki, Finland.

Maxine Vogt

Research Analyst | Euromonitor International

Maxine Vogt is a research analyst at Euromonitor International, a world leader in strategic research for consumer markets. With a background in consumer psychology, Maxine analyses the services and payments landscape, including industries such as foodservice, retailing and consumer finance. She provides insights on trends, developments, growth opportunities and competitive environments across these industries for various European countries, including the UK, France and Switzerland. In addition to contributing to Euromonitor’s syndicated database Passport, Maxine works on producing strategic content across the industries she researches. She is based out of Euromonitor International’s London office, and holds a master’s degree from the IE Business School.

Herkko Volanen

Commander-in-Beef | Social Burgerjoint

In 2016, Mika “Pikkis” Tuomonen joined forces with chef Herkko Volanen who has 30+ years of experience in the restaurant industry. In the same year, the first Social Burgerjoint restaurant was opened in Helsinki, Finland. It soon gained popularity and was voted the best burgerjoint in town. In 2017, Social Burgerjoint was acquired by the Finnish Kotipizza Group which specializes in developing fast casual concepts and building restaurant chains based on the franchising model. The Group now aims to expand Social Burgerjoint into a nationwide chain. Three more restaurants are currently in the works for 2018, and by 2020, the chain is planned to have 20 locations across Finland.

Thayer Wiederhorn

CMO | FAT Brands

Thayer Wiederhorn, has served as the Chief Marketing Officer of FAT Brands Inc. since March 2017. As CMO, he has overseen global branding and marketing for over 300 corporate and franchise owned Fatburger, Buffalo’s Express, Buffalo’s Cafe and Ponderosa & Bonanza Steakhouse restaurants in over 18 countries. His responsibilities include overseeing all franchisor marketing initiatives, brand advertising funds, websites, social media, menu analysis, menu development, new product development, mobile and digital strategy, customer satisfaction, agency relationships, public relations, media buying, LSM (local store marketing) programs, 4-wall in-store merchandising, partnerships and promotions, retail licensing product lines, product placements and experiential marketing.

Judd Williams

International Development Director | Boparan Restaurant Group

Judd Williams is International Development Director for the Boparan Restaurant Group. The group owns a portfolio of well-known branded restaurants including, Giraffe, Ed’s Diner and Harry Ramsden’s fish & chips. BRG is also the UK & Ireland franchise partner for Slim Chickens which made its debut in London in March this year. Judd has held leadership roles in both franchisee and franchisor businesses, brands including Starbucks, Sainsbury’s and Costa Coffee. He led Costa’s entry into many European, Middle Eastern and South East Asian markets, working closely with franchise partners and leading support teams based in Dubai, Delhi and Singapore.

George Workman

Managing Director | FIZZ!

Speaker bio coming soon!


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