SIH Speaker Line Up

SIH Speaker Line Up


Keynote: Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, University of Guelph

The Business Case for Local Food: From the Margins to the Mainstream

Sylvain Charlebois's picture

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is Professor in the College of Business and Economics. He has authored almost 200 peer-reviewed publications in his career. His research has been featured in a number of newspapers, including The Economist, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy and the Globe & Mail. He has written four books, and many policy reports. Dr. Charlebois is a member of the Global Food Traceability Centre’s Advisory Board based in Washington DC, and a member of the National Advisory Board of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa. He has testified on several occasions before parliamentary committees on food policy-related issues as an expert witness. He has been asked to act as an advisor on food and agricultural policies in many Canadian provinces, and in more than 10 countries. He has been a visiting professor in Brazil, China, Finland and Austria.

Awards and Honours:
2012      Emerald Lit Award for Highly Commended Research
2008     Emerald Lit Award for Highly Commended Research

Julia Gilmore, Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance

Leveraging Food Tourism to Grow Your Business


Julia Gilmore

In her role as the Feast ON and Food Tourism Program Manager at the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, Julia travels the province and beyond working to create unique food experiences and programs that will become demand generators for communities and regions.

Julia was instrumental in developing the Experience Assessment Tool (EAT™) and recently contributed to the creation of The Rise of Food Tourism, a trend report created by NYC based travel intelligence brand Skift.  In 2015, she was recognized with the “Top 30 Under 30” award from the Ontario Hostelry Institute (OHI).


Mark Kenny

Mark Kenny picture

Mark Kenny

Mark Kenny is the Procurement Manager with Hospitality Services at The University of Guelph.  He has worked in the Hospitality industry since day one and is passionate about local food, people and places.

Mark’s love for local has allowed him to be truly dedicated and involved with many unique projects and organizations in the region.  One of those organizations, Taste Real – Guelph Wellington Local Food, appointed him to be their first Local Food Ambassador in February 2012.

His motto is Eat Well. Laugh Often.

Follow his #localfood stories on Twitter @100milemark.

Panel Speakers

Connecting the Dots: Partners in Food

A conversation with local food entrepreneurs.

Ben Sachse, Elora Brewing Co. Restaurant:
Ben Sachse Picture

Ben Sachse

Ben is the Owner and Head-chef of the Elora Brewing Co. Restaurant.  Having graduated from the Stratford Chef School in 2008, his initial skills and food philosophies were honed under chefs who very much drove home the importance of the origin and story of one’s ingredients.  At such places as Rundle’s in Stratford, Stone Road Grille in NOTL, Oviinbyrd Gold&Country Club in Muskoka, and a year spent in the Japanese countryside at DelCook’s of Osaka, his expriences have left him grounded in the belief that a Cook’s responsibility reaches beyond cooking for the plate, that with improved ability and influence come greater responsibility as an educator and advocate for local sustainability and global thinking.   With his wife Sonia, a successfull artisanale sourdough bread baker originally from Fergus, Ben settled in Centre Wellington, Wellington County because they are both very much drawn to the area’s unparalleled abundance of farmers, producers, and crafts-people.  Since the Elora Brewing Co’s opening in August of 2015, he has had to overcome some of the inevitable challenges presented by focusing on a farm-to-tale model of menu creation.

Leslie Zinger, Top Market Meats:
Leslie Zinger photo

Leslie Zinger

Leslie Zinger along with husband Jeff and two jr. farmers Lizzy and Johnny are the farmers of Top Market Meats that is located in Ariss, just outside of Guelph. Jeff and Leslie purchased the 80 acre family farm 12 years ago and decided to bring it back to tradition with the diversity of livestock just like how Jeff’s great, great grandparents ran the farm.  Sticking with traditional farming practices with a modern flair of pasture raised and grass grazed, this farming family raises pigs, lamb, goats, chickens, turkeys, duck, goose and rabbits. Top Market Meats sells 100% directly to local customers at 7 farmers’ markets, 5 restaurants, 3 farm grocery stores and at the farm store located on the family farm.

This former city girl now farmer has earned her title with pride and is proud to be a local farmer.

Jackie Fraser, Fraberts Fresh Food:
Jackie Fraser - Fraberts Fresh Food

Jackie Fraser – Fraberts Fresh Food

Jackie Fraser owns Fraberts Fresh Food in Fergus along with her husband Chef Derek Roberts.  Jackie has been a local food enthusiast since she was young, growing up on a dairy farm in Huttonville and working at local farm markets.  Jackie was a proud Aggie at the University of Guelph, graduating with an M.Sc. in Land Resources Management.  She worked in environmental consulting and as Executive Director for “Agricultural Groups Concerned about Resources and the Environment”, better known as AGCare, before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.

Jackie and Derek opened Fraberts in May of 2008 – two weeks before the arrival of their first daughter, Charlotte.  Eighteen months later, just before Christmas, her sister Emily was born and somehow the family and the local food retail store have grown and thrived!

Josh Whitehead, Green Table Foods:
Joshua Whitehead Picture

Joshua Whitehead

Josh Whitehead is the founder of Green Table Foods, a certified organic food processing company based in Guelph, Ontario. He has designed and brought to market over twenty products for various brands, many available nation-wide.

Green table Foods was the recipient of a 2015 Innovation Award, and continues to develop new staples for the Canadian grocery sector.

Mark & Cindy Gerber, Oakridge Acres:
Mark and Cindy Gerber

Mark and Cindy Gerber

Mark and Cindy Gerber operate Oakridge Acres Country Meat Store located on their farm just outside of Ayr. Here, they raise Black Angus beef and grass-fed bison from their own herd, along with a variety of drug/hormone free meat products from other local farms including omega 3 chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, buffalo, wild boar, rabbit, and seafood. In addition to meat, they also carry a selection of our community’s harvest such as fresh local produce, fine cheeses and dairy products, home baking, heritage preserves, honey and a line of frozen entrees made on site. Consumers support over 40 local farmers and producers by shopping at Oakridge Acres. The Gerber’s approach to farming is simple—by creating a healthy living environment and using home-grown feed (hay and grains) they can produce healthier animals.

Dr. Susan Durant:
Dr. Susan Durant

Dr. Susan Durant

Dr. Durant was the first female naturopathic doctor in the region.

She and her family are long term customers of Oakridge Acres. She also sends many of her patients to Oakridge.

Her office was located in Kitchener for years and she just recently moved to Cambridge.  Her practice is Durant Naturopathic Clinic.

Keirra Reid, Little Mushroom Catering:
Keirra Reid

Keirra Reid

Little Mushroom is a full service catering company located in Cambridge that uses fresh, local ingredients to make the best from-scratch products. They believe in building a community with their suppliers and clients while offering creative, customized menus.

Keirra Reid is the Chef de Cuisine at Little Mushroom Catering. She’s started with the company as junior sous chef in 2011 and has worked her way up to managing all of the daily operations of the kitchen including ordering & menu planning. Keirra can often be found at community events and fundraisers. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Foodlink Waterloo Region and prides herself in building relationships with Little Mushroom suppliers and local farmers. Little Mushroom regularly sources from Mountainoak Cheese, Oakridge Acres and Top Market Meats.

Julie Clarke, Mountainoak Cheese:
Julie Clarke photo

Julie Clarke

Mountainoak Cheese is a farmstead Gouda cheese-making company located in New Hamburg. Owners Adam & Hannie van Bergeijk were already a cheese makers in the Netherlands before coming to Canada in 1996. Their small, personal production evolved into Mountainoak Cheese, a modern, state-of-the-art facility that allows the van Bergeijks to continue the tradition of Gouda-style cheeses made with fresh milk from their own dairy cows, which is sent directly to their cheese plant. They plant their own seeds, care for and harvest their own crops. By producing their cheese right on the farm, they are able to be involved in every step of the process while minimizing their environmental footprint. Each cheese is naturally aged, bringing out the best characteristics of the milk and the work that has gone into each step.

Julie Clarke is the Marketing Manager at Mountainoak. A strong advocate of local food, she assists in diverse areas within the company and continues to learn about the challenges that face local producers such as production costs, distribution, marketing and more.

Ask The Expert Conversations with our speakers

Any questions left unanswered? During this session you have the opportunity to have a conversation with our speakers directly. The Trade Show will be open during this time.