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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.”
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 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.
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.
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 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.