Stacey Dunnigan, City of Guelph

Stacey manages Tourism Services and the historic Guelph Farmers’ Market at the City of Guelph, where she has worked since 2006.

For Stacey, sustainable tourism development and growing local food systems go hand in hand, and these two passions have combined into an exciting and rewarding career in municipal government.

As a founding member of Taste Real®, Wellington County’s award-winning culinary tourism initiative, Stacey works with other passionate people who are committed to growing one of the most vibrant and authentic local food economies and food tourism destinations in Ontario.


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.  


Debbie Trenholm, Savvy Company Inc.

In 2003, Debbie Trenholm founded The Savvy Grapes—a business rooted in her passion for wine. Debbie’s enthusiasm for sharing that passion and experiences with wine, her refreshing approach to wine marketing and her knowledge of the wine industry have been essential to her company’s growth and success. Debbie and her team of sommeliers have built a professional reputation as the “go-to” wine resource for consumers, professionals and the media in Ottawa and across Canada.  Debbie has explored the roots of the wine industry around the world—picking grapes in vineyards during harvest, bottling wines and even designing wine labels, gaining a full understanding of the many hands involved in the crafting of a bottle of premium wine.


David Peacock, CEO RTO4

David Peacock is a business development specialist with a well-documented career as senior executive at both the President and CEO level in international television and electronic media. He’s worked extensively in the UK, France, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Finland and the U.S.A. In 2011 he came out of retirement and returned to the Canadian tourism industry to head up one of the Province’s newly formed Regional Tourism Organizations; his previous work in tourism goes all the way back to 1992 when he was the Director of Marketing for Canada’s preeminent Canadian playhouse “the Blyth Festival” and founding member of the Huron Tourism Association.

He brings a results-oriented strategic approach to regional tourism based on leveraging existing demand generators and brands with a particular emphasis on direct consumer conversion and economic output measurement. David jokes that he runs the “unbranded” Ontario RTO.


David Adames, Niagara Parks Commission

David Adames joined the Niagara Parks Commission in March 2013. With excellent strategic and operational experience, he oversees the Retail & Attractions, Culinary Services, Sales, Marketing, Events, Communications, Golf and Heritage departments.

Before joining the Niagara Parks Commission, David was the President and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and previously as Executive Director of Tourism Hamilton.


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.


Sheila Whyte

Sheila Whyte, president/owner of Thyme & Again Creative Catering and Take Home Food Shop, is an innovative leader and trendsetter in Ottawa’s food and catering industry. She remains an active member of her community. She currently sits on the Culinary Management advisory board at Algonquin College. She has been a board member of the Wellington West Business Improvement Area since its inception, and is on the Selection Committee for the Ottawa Philanthropy Awards. Sheila was a judge for the “Amazing People” gala in 2015, and currently sits as judge for the Gold Medal Plates competition in Ottawa. She was on the 2014 Food Truck Selection Committee for the City of Ottawa.

Sheila has received the Ottawa Arts Council Award for Small Business Contributions to the Arts and is the recipient of two awards from the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. In 2004, she was awarded Businesswoman of the Year in Ottawa. She was also recognized with an honorary chair in 2010 by Ottawa Speech and Drama and The Great Canadian Theatre Company for contributions to the arts community in Ottawa. Sheila graduated from Leadership Ottawa in 2009.


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.