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.
Chairman and CEO | Fatburger
Andrew A. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Managing Editor | FastCasual.com
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 FastCasual.com.
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.
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. Laura 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. Laura’s specialty is the intersection of technology and marketing, turning data insights into brand and business solutions. In her time as CIO, Laura implemented countless new initiatives to improve the Dickey’s brand.
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.
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.
Speaker bio coming soon!
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.
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.
Co-Owner | The Avocado Show
“You don’t have to know exactly what you’re doing to be successful.“ Creative serial entrepreneur Ron Simpson  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.
Speaker bio coming soon!
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.
Speaker bio coming soon!
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.