Michael Steinburg

With 15 years of experience working within Canada’s media, communications and advertising industries, Michael is a highly creative individual with a proven track record of building brands. He is a savvy strategist who works across myriad platforms to find new revenue models and business partnerships necessary to optimize content economics. He has successfully overseen the production, financing and distribution of hundreds of hours of content that has aired on multiple platforms in Canada and internationally.  

Ballu Thakur

From Canada to Switzerland to Japan to the United States and back again, with a degree from France, Ballu’s career in the hospitality industry is truly international. Ballu has worked with companies such as Delta Hotels and Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels, Hilton International, Accor, and the Walt Disney World Company. As a full time professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, he started teaching in the Hospitality Degree program, and then transitioned to Program Coordinator for the Special Events Diploma program, before focusing on his love of Food, Wine and Beverage Management. Prior to this, he taught and developed program material in Spa Management at a private college in Toronto.

Ballu holds a Master of Business Administration Degree in International Hospitality Management from l’Institut de Management Hôtelier International (IMHI) in France, a joint program of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and the French Business School ESSEC. He also completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Guelph in Hotel and Food Administration, a certificate in Adult Teaching and Training from George Brown College, and is a certified Trainer for the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC).

Jill Rudderham

Jill started reading the Food section of the local paper in public school so it is perhaps not surprising she ended up in the food industry. She has over 20 years’ experience at Canada’s largest grocery retailer where she worked in marketing, control label products, merchandising and category management. Natural and organic foods were her particular specialty for close to a decade. Currently, she lends her retail expertise to a packaged goods firm launching a new brand of dairy products to the Canadian market.

As a student, Jill lived in France and has since visited over 20 countries – always seeking out the places where food is being sold, made or shared. She thinks checking out a new restaurant, food truck or market is a perfect reason to go on a trip, and is enthusiastic about the prospect of sharing professional experience with a like-minded community.

Michele Harris

With a passion for business development and community building, Michele is known for using innovation, leadership & outside-the-box thinking to leverage success. Her extensive marketing and media career includes work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in both television and radio production management, and owning an award-winning boutique marketing agency with specialization in regional development, hospitality, and tourism marketing.  

As Executive Director of Headwaters Tourism she works extensively within the regional, municipal & provincial political framework to leverage activities and integrate strategies into creative and innovative partnerships. Under her leadership, Headwaters Tourism has been recognized with numerous national and provincial awards from, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario/Ontario Tourism, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, the Economic Developers Council of Ontario, and the Economic Developers Association of Canada for marketing, innovation, and regional economic development. Michele serves on the boards of several provincial and municipal tourism and economic development organizations, has been a professor and serves on the Academic Advisory Committee at Humber College’s School of Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism, and is a seasoned speaker on tourism and regional community development.

Martin Mejia

Martin is native from Peru, the land that gave the world the Potato and the Quinoa, the Ceviche and the Pisco Sour, the Alpaca and the Vicuña, among many other things. His passion for food began when he was a pilot in the Peruvian Air Force and travelled throughout the coast, the Andes and the Amazon jungle, enjoying the regional typical dishes that, individually and combined, make up of one of the most diverse and amazing cuisines in the world. After completing an MBA degree, Martin left the Air Force and worked in retail and telecommunications industries. Martin arrived in Canada 13 years ago and worked for one of the most important International Food Trading houses in the country, dealing with animal protein markets in Latin America and the Caribbean. But the passion for food led him and his wife Deidad to open and run for some years a chicken restaurant in Oakville… Peruvian style of course! Cooked using charcoal and Peruvian spices not known here in Canada, this chicken was a delight for people from a myriad of nationalities and cultures that came to their store to enjoy their food and their service. Martin also shares a passion for teaching, having taught courses of Supply Chain Management, Marketing and International Management at Sheridan College, Georgian College and Laurentian University.

Amanda Virtanen

While working at the largest media companies in Canada and with top-tier public relations firm Cohn & Wolfe, Amanda has nearly two decades of branding and communications experience. In June of 2013, Amanda accepted a dream opportunity with the County of Haliburton as the Director of Tourism. Prior to joining the County of Haliburton, Amanda was Vice President at Cohn & Wolfe, managing public relations/marketing campaigns for leading brands including Nintendo, MasterCard, Coleman, Thermos and many more. 

Amanda began her career at the Toronto Star as Internet Producer and deepened her knowledge of the online industry during her time with The Globe and Mail as Senior Online Producer. Her extensive knowledge of digital and editorial environments led her to a role at Rogers Media, as General Manager, Women’s Community, which included the management of several publications online, such as Chatelaine, Flare, Glow and Hello Magazine. Amanda studied New Media & Photography at Ryerson University and obtained a Post-Graduate diploma in Interactive Multimedia at Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology. In 2012, Amanda completed a Brand Management certification from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Lynn Sullivan

Lynn Sullivan and her partner, winemaker Dan Sullivan are the founders of Rosehall Run, one of the original 6 wineries in Prince Edward County, Ontario in 2001. Over the last 15 years, Lynn has honed her marketing, hospitality and small business management expertise on the growth of the local wine industry in Canada and, by extension, culinary tourism including leadership roles at Taste the County, PEC’s destination marketing organization and the Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association. Currently, Lynn serves on the Prince Edward County Community and Economic Development Commission and is a member of the Board of Directors of Regional Tourism Organization 9 – The Great Waterway.