Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan, SSP America

Jim has roughly 35 years of experience in the recruiting or talent acquisition space. He’s gone from recruiting “on paper and in papers” to “on-line and in systems”. Starting with his last 16 years of his 21-year military career in the Air Force’s Recruiting Command and continuing on with the last 18+ years in the highly-volatile, fast growing, foodservice and restaurant industries. While most of this time has been in leadership positions, he prides himself on maintaining the art of his profession and continues to actively recruit for opening positions and staying current with effective methods of sourcing candidates. As Director of Talent Acquisition for two fast growing foodservice companies, he’s forte has been building high volume – low budget recruiting models, with efficient resources and leading effective teams. He stays current with trends and technology; and constantly challenges the status-quo. He’s currently the Director of Recruiting for SSP America, the fastest growing F&B company in airport concessions. 


Nicole Palmer, Texas Restaurant Association

Nicole Palmer has been a dedicated member of the service and hospitality industry for over a decade. She began her career as a hostess at Chili’s at age 16, and has experienced everything FOH including serving, bartending, catering events and weddings. She has been a part of the Marketing team at the Texas Restaurant Association for over a year and loves the opportunities TRA gives to support restaurants. Nicole is a proud Bobcat, earning a degree in Digital Media Innovation and Media from Texas State University, and plans to continue involvement in the industry through marketing, photography, and journalism. Her favorite thing about the service and hospitality industry is the sense of community, as many of her coworkers have become more like family. 

Philip Coggins

Philip Coggins, Phlipside Records / District Distilling

Phlip Coggins has been involved in both the Service and Music Industry for the last 21 years. In that time he has held every position in both fields, helped open up countless venues including 5 in Austin in the past year and a half, created a myriad of beverage programs, developed recipes, managed teams of employees, run several successful companies including a studio that produced Texas Chart topping hits, bridged gaps between both industries, and supported countless individuals to reach their goals and find success in two fields that are equally challenging and passion driven. His view of music and service are closely tied to the same principle: the fulfillment of individuals needs for sustenance and replenishment both literally and figuratively. Hospitality and Service to those in need.

Hunter Townsend

Hunter Townsend, Consumable Content

Hunter Townsend started his restaurant marketing career by taking over the social media program for Via 313, where he used the skills he'd acquired as an independent musician to help grow the company's social media influence and increase community engagement without the use of paid advertising. 

Building off of that experience, Hunter founded Consumable Content, a digital brand management agency that specializes in content creation and social media management for some of Austin's top restaurants, bars, and food trucks.

Pete Bassett

Pete Bassett, Rudy's Texas Bar-B-Q

With more than 42 years in the restaurant industry, Pete Bassett has a wide range of operations experience. From Mr. Gatti’s to Pelican’s Wharf to Friday’s and many other successful chains – he is now a vice president at Texas’ iconic Rudy’s BBQ, which has 29 company-operated stores and 13 franchises across five states. Rudy’s North Austin location is the chain’s number one restaurant in food sales per square foot out of approximately 67,000 total restaurants in Texas.

Madhav Mehra

Madhav Mehra, Seasoned

A hands-on leader, Madhav has spent his career building and launching consumer products that make life better-photography, art, books, and health and wellness. As President of Seasoned, he is passionate about building a community that will change the economic outcomes of people in the restaurant industry. An "executive chef" of sorts, he is responsible for setting strategy and working with cross-functional teams to drive business results. Madhav has held senior executive positions at Lynda.com (acquired by LinkedIn), CellScope, Alibris, Art.com, and Kodak.

Madhav holds an MBA from Simon School of Business, University of Rochester, a PhD and an MS in materials science from the California Institute of Technology, and a B.Tech in metallurgy from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur.

An avid photographer, Madhav spends his free time traveling the world capturing its wonders, tasting all manner of local cuisine-most recently yak butter tea in Tibet-and playing golf.

Creed Ford III

Creed Ford III, Ford Restaurant Group

Creed Ford III grew up in Texas and graduated from Texas A&M University in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Economics.  After graduating, he began his career in the restaurant industry as a General Manager at the Pelican’s Wharf Restaurant in Dallas, Texas.  In 1976 he joined the management team at the first Chili’s Grill and Bar restaurant.  While at Chili’s, Ford held leadership positions from General Manager to Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President and Director of Brinker International Inc., formerly Chili’s, Inc.  While at Brinker as COO, Ford with the Brinker team established the casual dining giant as one of the most successful multi-concept restaurant companies worldwide.

In 1997, Ford left Brinker and became a franchisee of Chili’s Grill and Bar with Lynn Ford, President and majority owner of Rudy’s Country Store and Bar·B·Q and Ozona Grill and Bar. Ford Restaurant Group built 11 Franchise Chili’s throughout small towns in Texas and eventually sold them to Brinker International.

Ford co-founded Fired Up, Inc. in 1997 by purchasing the seven-unit Johnny Carino’s Italian Kitchen chain of Italian restaurants.  After redefining Carino’s to Johnny Carino’s Country Italian, Ford and his partners expanded Johnny Carino’s to over 170 restaurants in domestic and international markets. Fired Up Inc also owned Kona Ranch Steak house, Gumbo’s Louisiana Kitchen and the Brown Bar.  Due to the recession in 2008 and the downturn in casual dining economy Carino’s filed for bankruptcy in 2014 and was sold to a Carino’s franchisee who owns the brand today.

During his 43 year career, Ford has been involved with numerous different restaurant concepts either through ownership, as an operator or investor. From being part of restaurant startups, public offerings, acquisitions, re-branding and restructuring Ford has seen the industry through many stages and situations. He is the former Chairman of the Texas Restaurant Educational Foundation. Ford is a Board Member of Nolan Ryan Beef Company, TC4 Restaurant Company and Little Woodrows Inc. Ford is also currently active in his support for Texas A&M  University, operating Ford Llano Ranch and working with various charitable organizations. Creed Lives in Spicewood Texas with his wife Lynn, they have two children Harper Ford Rehme and Creed Ford IV you are both partners in Ford Restaurant Group.

Rafael Frederick

Rafael Frederick, Bull & Bear

Rafael Frederick is the quintessential restauranteur with over 10 years of experience in both Hospitality Management and Food and Beverage Management. Rafael is currently the General Manager of Bull & Bear restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Orlando, Florida. Bull & Bear is open nightly for dinner and presents a wine list featuring applauded boutique vintners. Bull & Bear has received the AAA Four Diamond Award, as well as the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award and the Florida Trend Golden Spoon. Most recently the Bull and Bear received a number of a Reader’s Choice Dining Awards from Orlando, The City’s Magazine. The award titles included: Best Restaurant, Best for a Business Dinner Restaurant, Best Hotel Restaurant, Most Romantic Restaurant, Best Service, Best Steak House and Best Wine List.

skeeter miller

Skeeter Miller, The County Line

Don “Skeeter” Miller is the owner and president of The County Line, and is a 2014 inductee to the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA)'s Hall of Honor. Skeeter was attending The University of Texas when the County Line first opened in 1975. He was hired as their first dishwasher 41 years ago. Ten new restaurants later, Skeeter was named President and continues to have full responsibility of the day-to-day operations at all of the restaurants, as well as supervision of all franchise locations. In 2010, Skeeter took home TRA’s Restauranteur of the Year. Skeeter volunteers as the State Director for the Texas Restaurant Association and is in his fourth year as the President of the Austin Restaurant Association. He is a member of TRA’s President’s Council and Political Action Committee. He is also on the Board of the Austin Hotel and Lodging Association, TRA and the TRA Education Foundation. Skeeter was recently featured on Food Network and represented the State of Texas as a featured chef at the Toronto Food and Wine Festival.

“Advocacy is a major part of our industry, and as president of our association, I take great strides to work alongside our local, state and federal authorities in order create relationships that help bring about laws that work the good of all. The most important thing is giving back to the communities that have supported me throughout the years.”

Bentley Nettles

General Bentley Nettles, TABC

Adrian Bentley Nettles was appointed TABC Executive Director in 2017 following successful careers as an attorney and as a brigadier general in the Texas Army National Guard. Nettles graduated from Texas A&M University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in business management and earned his law degree from the South Texas College of Law in 1987. While attending Texas A&M, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was made platoon leader and later company commander for multiple National Guard units. Nettles has deployed to multiple combat theaters around the world, including Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and has received numerous military decorations including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Purple Heart. Prior to his retirement from the military, Nettles served as General Counsel for the Army Element Joint Force Headquarters in Austin. Following his separation from the Army in 2015, Nettles operated a successful law firm in Bryan assisting small businesses and veterans. He is a founding member and chairman of Brazos Valley Cares, a non-profit group dedicated to serving military veterans and their families, as well as many other boards and organizations in the Brazos Valley.