Melissa Aguillon

Melissa Aguillon, Aguillon & Associates

Melissa has been entrenched in government relations, community outreach, public relations and marketing for the last 20 years. Her past employers and current clients include public agencies and private organizations at the local, state and national levels. She has developed a recognized reputation, which she utilizes to assist her clients with making the appropriate connections and increase brand awareness.

Diana Barrios Trevino

Diana Barrios Trevino, Los Barrios Enterprises, Inc

Diana Barrios Trevino, a San Antonio native, has been actively involved in cuisine and culinary media representing her family’s restaurant. Diana appears monthly on San Antonio Living Show with Shelly Miles. Her national exposure includes a Good Morning America cooking segment with Chef Emeril Lagasse, as well as taping segments for the Food Network shows, Food Nation and Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

In June of 2002, as her cookbook Los Barrios Family Cookbook ~Tex-Mex Recipes from the Heart of San Antonio was launching, Diana and her family were featured on the Weekend Today Show. Diana was surprised by Bobby Flay at her family’s restaurant, La Hacienda de Los Barrios, where he challenged her to a Puffy Taco Throwdown. In June of 2010 Diana was invited to cook at the White House. Diana, along with her brother Louie and sister Teresa, head up Viola’s Huge Heart Foundation honoring mother, Viola.

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Alex Barrotti, TouchBistro

Alex Barrotti, CEO and Founder of TouchBistro iPad restaurant POS, is a pioneer in mobile technology for restaurants. In 2011 when TouchBistro was launched, the iPad was viewed more as a gimmick than as a serious productivity tool. Today TouchBistro is the top grossing restaurant iPad POS app in 37 countries.

Alex has emerged as a visionary in the advanced technologies that will help a business grow. Before TouchBistro, he was at the forefront of e-commerce development when he founded INEX in 1997. While others doubted online shopping would one day become the norm, Alex persisted in developing a novel turnkey solution that enabled storeowners to create online storefronts with pre-designed templates. At 30 years old, he sold INEX for $45 million.

Alex has been a guest speaker at major international events, such as mPOS World, MPE, the Visa Innovation Summit and Restaurants Canada. His presentations are educational and forward thinking, providing insight into existing restaurant technology and future trends.

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.

Ryan Beard

Ryan Beard, Texas Disposal Systems

Ryan Beard has been working with Texas Disposal Systems for 12 years.  Passionate about diverting waste from the landfill, Ryan has had many successful recycling projects including single stream recycling programs at 300+ schools and composting collection programs at over 100+ schools.  He was also instrumental in starting curbside green waste program in the City of Kyle (a first in Central Texas)  and starting a city-wide multi-family recycling program in San Marcos, Texas (also a first in Central Texas).  He also started Green Events Services, a program for collecting recycling and compostables at public and private events including Austin City Limits Music Festival.   Ryan graduated from Harding University in 1997.  Ryan has been married 21 years to his wife, Ashley, and has a 3 kids, Garrett, Scout, and Zipora.

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Kristin Booth, Main Street Hub

Kristin Booth leads Main Street Hub's local business outreach from Austin, Texas. As regional development representative, she hosts educational workshops, both live and online, to help small businesses get more word-of-mouth and referrals on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, & Foursquare. Through her position, Kristin has had the opportunity to train thousands of companies and business owners. Her specialty is making her events and workshops engaging, thought-provoking, and results-oriented.

Kristin brings a colorful background in event management, education, and leadership to her position. She began her career working as a regional manager for a national clothing retailer and was part of the travel team to launch new store locations in expanding markets. In addition, she worked for a private college developing events and educational programs that encouraged community involvement and brand awareness. Throughout her career, Kristin has been a thought-leader and has brought measurable success to the teams and companies with whom she has worked.

geoffrey brown

Geoffrey Brown, Main Street Hub

Geoffrey is a member of Main Street Hub's local business outreach team. He has worked at Main Street Hub since 2015 finding success with social media and online reputation management for local businesses. He has put to practice his experience with Yelp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for these businesses and is looking forward to sharing what he has learned with new audiences.

David Cantu

David Cantu, HotSchedules

As Chief Customer Officer, David is responsible for sales and building and maintaining strong relationships with customers by engaging with them at all levels to collect and disseminate customer feedback throughout the company. Prior to becoming CCO, David was the vice president of Business Development and co-founder of HotSchedules, Inc. Through his leadership, HotSchedules repeatedly achieved more than 40 percent annual growth goals and was consistently recognized on the Inc. 5000 and Austin Business Journal’s Fast 50 growth indexes.

David’s 17+ years of restaurant operations experience have contributed to HotSchedules’ product development and innovative solutions to improve restaurant operations scheduling efficiencies, labor management, and increased employee engagement. David attended the University of Texas at San Antonio. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and three children. He is an active member of Vistage International, an executive peer advisory program, and enjoys running, fishing, water sports, volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas and escaping to the wine country or beach whenever possible.

Darien Clary

Darien Clary, Austin Independent School District

As Austin ISD Sustainability Manager, Darien implements programs and tracks performance for water & energy conservation, recycling & composting, alternative transportation, green building, and school engagement. Prior to joining Austin ISD, Darien advanced sustainability at Austin Community College and lead community-based conservation and economic growth initiatives in the Dominican Republic for Columbia University’s Center for Environment, Economy, and Society. Darien holds an undergraduate degree in Biology from Southwestern University and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Texas. She enjoys addressing sustainability to create positive change towards conservation, responsible practices, and youth engagement at Austin ISD.

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.

Efrain Contreras

Efrain Contreras, Texas Workforce Commission

Efrain Contreras is the Program Supervisor for the Texas Workforce Commission Child Labor Law Unit in Austin, Texas where Efrain leads a team of child labor investigators located throughout the state.   Before his position as a Program Supervisor, Efrain had worked in several investigative positions with the Texas Workforce Commission which include Child Labor Law Investigations, Payday Investigations, and Unemployment adjudications. 

Efrain Contreras

Efrain Contreras is the Program Supervisor for the Texas Workforce Commission Child Labor Law Unit in Austin, Texas where Efrain leads a team of child labor investigators located throughout the state.   Before his position as a Program Supervisor, Efrain had worked in several investigative positions with the Texas Workforce Commission which include Child Labor Law Investigations, Payday Investigations, and Unemployment adjudications.  

Pete Cortez

Pete Cortez, La Familia Cortez

Born into the restaurant business as the son of Jorge Cortez, Pete Cortez started his career drying silverware at the tender age of 8. From bussing tables to managing the privately held restaurants and real estate company that employs more than 600 team members, Pete has worked in every aspect of La Familia Cortez Restaurants, learning the business from the ground up. As Chief Operating Officer, his primary role is to shape the company’s organizational structure, growing the company through innovation and efficiency while incorporating the history, culture and traditions that have made the family business one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the United States.

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Betsy Craig, Menu Trinfo

Betsy Craig is an award-wining CEO and the Founder of MenuTrinfo®, LLC , AllerTrain by MenuTrinfo, and Kitchens with Confidence. Betsy is considered the national leading expert on food allergies and their impact on the foodservice industry.  Being a trailblazer in food safety for those with special dietary needs have lead to the development of her newest company, auditing and accreditation leader for food allergies and gluten-free is Kitchens with Confidence. 

The three different companies pull together a complete suite of services includes menu labeling, certification and training in the areas of food allergies and food sensitivities, audits for food service, certification for product free from different allergens, AllerTrain™ the only ANSI accredited food allergy & gluten-free training class in the food service industry, nutritional counseling and policy development.

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Donna Hood Crecca, Technomic Inc.

Donna Hood Crecca is an associate principal at Technomic Inc., where she leads the firm’s Convenience Store Practice and is active in its Adult Beverage Practice. She is a veteran of the foodservice and drinks industries, having covered the restaurant, foodservice, convenience store, beverage and beverage alcohol markets for nearly two decades.

Before joining Technomic, she was publisher & editorial director of Nightclub & Bar magazine; prior to that she was editor of Cheers. Additionally, she served as a contributing editor to Chain Leader for 10 years, was editor of F&B Business and a contributor to CSP Magazine. She has broad knowledge of bar, nightclub and restaurant marketing, operations, human resources and growth strategies, with specific expertise in beverage sales, promotion, service and training, having covered these topics for a number of industry magazines. She is a frequent presenter at industry events including VIBE, Convenience Retailing University, FARE, Flavor, the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show, Tales of the Cocktail, National Restaurant Association Show, Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (CHART) and the Alcohol Responsibility Conference.

Donna holds a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from Syracuse University and has done graduate work in magazine publishing management at New York University. She is BarSmarts Advanced Certified and has served as President of the International Foodservice Editorial Council.

caitlin edwards

Caitlin Edwards, GrubHub

Caitlin Edwards is a Senior Manager of Market Operations at Grubhub, the nation’s leading online and mobile food ordering company. She oversees a team of market managers covering states in the South and Midwest, including Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. With over 14 years of experience in the restaurant industry, she began her career in restaurant delivery seven years ago as a Corporate Concierge for Dining In. She was promoted to General Manager of the Dining In Dallas market in 2012 and increased yearly sales to $6 million before they were acquired by Grubhub in 2015. Over the past three years she has helped grow Grubhub’s fast-growing delivery network, which has committed to reach more than 100 new markets this year.

Mike Feinman

Mike Feinman, FazTex Restaurants, Inc. (DBA Fazoli's)

Mike Feinman has been in the business world for over 35, mostly successful, years. He has worked in multiple industries, including QSR, Fast Casual, Business Brokerage, On Line Retail, Fitness and Premium Retail. He is currently the CEO of FazTex Restaurants, Inc. (DBA Fazolis), Founding Senior Broker at Texas Business Brokers, CFO for ZeroFoxtrot.com and Director at the Fazolis Franchise Association. Applicable experience for this workshop includes applied leadership of up to 350 retail outlets, National Training/Management Development Department Leadership of a $8 Billion Organization and knowledge of many companies and industries due to his broad jobs and current Business Brokerage.

Kevin Fink

Kevin Fink, Emmer & Rye

Kevin Fink found his love for food, restaurants, and hospitality at an early age when he would trail his father working in the restaurant industry, learning the ins-and-outs of the culinary operations. Emmer & Rye brings a unique dining experience to Austin, as the restaurant is the city’s first to offer contemporary American seasonal small plates passed on circulating carts as part of their meal. Guests are able to order these items in addition to a weekly rotating menu using local farm-to-table ingredients.

Emmer & Rye opened in late 2015, and Chef Fink was quickly named one of FOOD & WINE Magazine’s “Best New Chefs” and one of the “Best New Restaurants 2016” by Bon Appetit. Fink was named a 2018 James Beard semifinalist for “Best Chef Southwest” and in 2017 he received the StarChefs Rising Star Award. Fink currently resides in Austin Texas with his wife and son.

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.

mark gaskamp

Mark Gaskamp, Wortham Insurance & Risk Management

Mr. Gaskamp is a Managing Director for Wortham Insurance & Risk Management in the Austin office. His responsibilities include partnering with clients to develop solutions to reduce their organizations overall cost of risk. Prior to joining Wortham he worked in the insurance and risk management profession for over 25 years.

Mark has served as national faculty member of the Certified Risk Manager's program since 2002. He was the recipient of the Safety Professional of the Year for the American Society of Safety Engineers Region III in 2009. Mark has published numerous insurance and risk management articles and presented at regional and national professional development conferences. 

He holds a holds a BBA in Risk Management from the University of Texas at Austin and is a Certified Safety Professional, Certified Risk Manager, Certified Insurance Counselor, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, and Associate in Risk Management. 

He can be reached at mark.gaskamp@worthaminsurance.com 

Jessica Giesey

Jessica Giesey, Jessica Giesey Photography

Jessica is a San Antonio based food and lifestyle photographer with an eye for all things yummy. She is nationally and internationally published with clientele ranging from local San Antonio favorites-- to the big guys like Shake Shack and Hendricks Gin.

An avid work traveler, she thrives on new places and spaces for inspiration. She loves variety, and embraces a challenge. She is flexible, versatile, and artistic.

She recently found new thrills in teaching her craft to industry folk. She offers workshops, 6 week courses, and mentorships to her clients as well as the creative public.

You can follow her on instagram @jessicagiesey.

Juliette Gust, Ethics Suite

Juliette Gust is the founder and president of Ethics Suite, a company that helps businesses identify, investigate and resolve alleged wrongdoing at their organization by providing a comprehensive solution for the anonymous employee reporting and tracking of workplace misconduct, fraud, or theft. Ethics Suite also offers assistance with internal investigations and ethics and compliance-related consulting services.

Ms. Gust has personally conducted or managed more than 1,300 investigations spanning 75 countries and has advised on more than 10,000 employee ethics line reports. She developed and was the Director of the global Fraud & Investigations team for a global hospitality company with 180,000 employees in over 100 countries. 

Prior to focusing on forensic accounting (and where she developed the interest), Juliette spent 15 years in industry operations as an operations manager and general manager in high-volume hotels, casino hotels, convention centers and restaurants.