Speakers and Session Descriptions

Monday, February 26

8:15 am - 9:15 am
Master the Art of Customer Experience

Daniel Lewis
Entrepreneur, Customer Experience Expert & Motivational Storyteller 

Author, entrepreneur and International speaker Daniel Lewis is the proud founder of the award-winning tea company Daniel’s Chai bar (formerly known as T By Daniel.) Daniel helps people and organizations adopt a more human-centric approach to business, entrepreneurship and life.  

His people-focused outlook on entrepreneurship and his experiential business tactics have garnered him and his company national recognition and many awards and honours such as the 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, 2016 Business Excellence Award and 2017 Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneurs and just recently 2022 Global Visual Victories Silver Medal for most creative Pop-Up Store Design. Daniel’s success with his retail tea brand has even landed him an opportunity to serve HRH King Charles III during his 2017 Royal Tour to Canada.

Daniel grew his company from a grassroots start-up to an established local tea brand that served the Royal Family. The journey has been both challenging and worthwhile and Daniel aims to present organizations with the grit and tenacity it takes to start a business and the hope and inspiration needed to sustain it. Using real-life examples and experiences Daniel will leave you ready to tackle your business, customers and people in a creative, realistic and impactful way.















9:45 am - 11:15 am
Fireside Chat on Culinary Experiences
Three local Chefs sit down for a fireside chat with moderator Kevin Burgin to discuss unique culinary experiences. These Chefs have experienced and executed some exciting events like RAW: Almond, Table for 1200, The Great Canadian Kitchen Party and much more.

Kevin Burgin
680 CJOB

Kevin Burgin is the host of the Winnipeg Weekends and The Main Ingredient on 680 CJOB.

Kevin has developed a loyal following of listeners and is known for his quick wit and engaging conversations with his guests on Winnipeg Weekends. He is passionate about discussing current events, health, and lifestyle issues. He also loves to interview interesting people from all walks of life. With his no–nonsense attitude and friendly demeanor, Kevin is sure to make you feel welcome and entertained. 

The Main Ingredient food show on 680 CJOB is Winnipeg’s premier source for food news and entertainment. The show features interviews with local chefs and restaurateurs, food trends and much more. Kevin’s enthusiasm for food shines through, making the show a perfect listen for foodies of all levels. Whether you’re a gourmet or a novice in the kitchen, you’ll find something to love on The Main Ingredient food show.

Chef Emily Butcher

Emily Butcher's first food memories are of folding shrimp dumplings with her Grandma and eating sweet peas out of the garden in the Fraser Valley. Finding her footing at West Restaurant and Bar, she then moved to Winnipeg’s deer + almond. Emily found continual inspiration in special projects like RAW:almond and Chef Mandel Hitzer’s sense of playful creativity.

After winning Bronze at the 2020 Canadian Culinary Championships and competing on Top Chef Canada Season 9, Emily opened Nola in Winnipeg. Her food is inspired by the Prairie landscape but always rooted in her West Coast upbringing and Chinese heritage with surprising layers of flavour and texture. 

Chef Mandel Hitzer

Mandel has always had a deep connection with food and feeding people. Influenced by great women in his life, food traditions became gospel in the homes he grew up in. Now serving Winnipeg food lovers for 28 years, he has made deer + almond his home.

Since it began in began in 2012, deer + almond has been named one of Canada’s 100 best restaurants (2017, 2018, 2023) and received numerous accolades from food critics and fans alike for the restaurant’s food, atmosphere, and culture.

Over the years Mandel has played a vital role at notable Winnipeg restaurants such as, Bridgeport, Step ‘N Out, Gluttons, and Fresh Café before carving out his true passion for building temporary dining experiences which all started with “thesecretdinner” which led him to RAW:almond. Whether he’s cooking on a frozen river, making appearances on food network Canada, building a table for 1200 people, or collaborating on the next farm dinner, he is always dreaming big, with a playful spirit.

Chef Ben Kramer

Chef Ben Kramer helped establish Winnipeg as one of the most vibrant food scenes in North America. He was one of the first to champion the use of local, sustainable ingredients and Ocean Wise certified fish at the dynamic Dandelion Eatery, here in Manitoba.


He then accomplished what most thought couldn’t be done: he helped make an institutional food services program at the University of Winnipeg a model of excellence, nation-wide. 


As one of the founders and executive chef of Diversity Food Services, Chef Kramer championed a social enterprise approach and introduced a sustainable menu to the campus community based on the belief that students should have access to healthy food and that as much as possible, food should be made from scratch and sourced locally.


Chef Kramer left Diversity in August of 2015 to focus on what he finds most satisfying – working directly with clients to create individually crafted menus. 


He’s been a part of Table for 1200 since its inception and participated in the first 6 years of RAW: Almond. He has done countless farm to table dinners and is the executive chef of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, feeding thousands of volunteers each year.

Food security and giving back have always been a major pillars in every business he has been involved  with. In 2014, Ben partnered with Community Food Centres Canada who helped him launch Made with Love, where his team has produced and delivered almost 100,000 meals to some of Winnipeg’s most vulnerable. Ben was also instrumental in gathering food from restaurants that were shutting down during the pandemic and using that food to create nutritious meals for community partners and agencies.

In 2022, Kramer was awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for his service to his province and community.

11:15 am - 12:15 pm
Unique Club Events Roundtable Challenge
Delegates will be split into groups and challenged to brainstorm and develop an idea they have for a brand new, and unique event for their club. 
1:15 pm - 2:15 pm
Unique Club Events Roundtable Presentations
Each group will need to deliver an elevator pitch of their event to a panel of judges. 
2:45 pm - 4:45 pm 
Beverage Micro Sessions
Indulge your senses in an exhilarating journey through the diverse world of Other Beverages. This rapid-fire multi-seminar extravaganza offers a unique opportunity to explore the nuanced artistry of sake, the crisp elegance of cider, and the refreshing innovations in the realm of non-alcoholic drinks.  

Shane and Jessie Halliburton
The Sobr Market Inc.

Shane and Jessie Halliburton are the Co-Founders of The Sobr Market Inc., a non-alcoholic bottle shop, online market and distributor in Canada.  The Sobr Market launched originally as an online marketplace in June 2022 after Shane made the decision to pursue an alcohol-free lifestyle.  After personally experiencing the struggle to acquire sophisticated, high quality options, Shane began to explore further what the world had to offer and wanted to bring what he found locally to Manitoba and Canada.  

What began as an online marketplace has now grown to include bottle shops in Winnipeg and Toronto, and a growing distribution catalogue available to restaurants, venues and other retailers.  Shane and Jessie both share the passion for helping others find alcohol-free libations and working with restaurants and venues to curate inclusive options that allow consumers to enjoy a premium non-alcoholic beverage experience.

Justin McAuliffe
Specialty Wine Store Buyer  | Sommelier ISG
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries 

A certified Sommelier and wine buyer for Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Justin has shared beverage knowledge for years in ultra-fine dining settings, on boutique sailing vessels and at his wine education school. Building on his education with hands-on opportunities at Okanagan vineyards, he learned the process of viticulture and vinification from leading industry experts. Justin has traveled extensively to beverage-producing regions around the world, among his favorite places are the island of Madeira and Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan.

Matthew Zacharias 
Dead Horse Cider

Matthew was born Winkler, Manitoba and spent most of his upbringing between Winkler and Bolivia, South America. He graduated from Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna and holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Guelph. From there, Matthew secured a job working for a cruise ship in the Mediterranean where he met his wife. After a few years the two got married and moved to his wife’s home state of California, where he embraced the wine industry. Matthew was the wine director for two - 3 Michelin starred restaurants, Quince, in San Francisco and The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley. Following this, they moved to Los Angeles, where he was the beverage director for the entirety of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. 

Due to the pandemic, Matthew and his wife chose to move back to Winkler to live with his mom and embrace the southern Manitoba community for the sake of their child. With complete happenstance, Matthew ran into Marcus Wiebe, who was making cider and it was an instant friendship. Both gentlemen had common goals and values and the joke is Matthew continued to show up to the cidery until Marcus decided to pay him. Almost three years later, Matthew and Marcus are partners in the cidery. Matthew lives a half mile from work and loves taking the four-wheeler to work rather than dealing with the Los Angeles traffic. Dead Horse Cider has had a great year and are very excited about what the future will hold.

Tuesday, February 27

8:30 am - 9:30 am 
Managing Personal Credibility: Building trust and creating positive relationships.

Credibility is a characteristic of a trusted advisor who is believable and can confidently exhibit a high level of expertise in a particular subject.

Personal credibility is the professional's perception of themselves and the development of character, strengths, and proper fit (behaviour) of the situation or the stakeholder. Based on research on the "Science of Believability” by Dr. Bruce Lipton, mindset dictates the professionals' internal dialogue. It demonstrates that mindset in external verbal and non-verbal communications, including their actions and behaviour that can impact credibility and influence stakeholders.  For a professional to be taken seriously, be trusted, and develop positive relationships, they must be confident and display the expertise required and the competence to complete the necessary tasks to meet the standards required of the situation or stakeholder. More importantly, how the perception reflects outwardly and how others judge and react to verbal and nonverbal communication, behaviour, and projected presence creates a positive or negative outcome.

Successful, credible professionals must prepare for opportunities.  Credible professionals must manage personal credibility, learn to develop themselves, discover priorities, make their most significant contributions, and choose their impact.  Personal credibility is the professional's responsibility to motivate themselves to be engaged in their activities and remain productive in their priorities.

Be the architect of your future; be intentional about your CREDIBILITY.

​Jessica LoRusso
Powered by Jessica

In addition to leading teams, constructing business plans and designing processes and codes of conducts, Jessica LoRusso has volunteered her
time as the President of the ALS Society, was a finalist for the Manitoba Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Building Business and Excellence
in Service Categories) for three consecutive years, and was Winner of Rookie of the Year, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

Jessica is a serial entrepreneur with 20-plus years of experience building several profitable businesses. She knows firsthand how to achieve
business success. After selling her successful MediSpa in 2014, Jessica, with her team, launched POWERED BY JESSICA, which specializes in
credibility accreditation and training. She is the Training Director for In Good Company Etiquette and Finishing School Manitoba, specializing in
teaching social skills to ages five and up. Jessica and her team provide training with the International Civility Consortium Trainers and work
with Civility Experts Worldwide. Jessica is one of 12 civility master trainers in the world and is the author of four books.

10:00 am - 11:30 am
Building Bridges with Difficult Personalities - Part 1
A lively, interactive session with two different topics relevant to today’s club environment.
Each topic will be introduced, a story will be shared on how it is relevant to today’s club world, and it will then be turned over to small (table) work groups to discuss with the intent of identifying the topic as a challenge and offering strategies on how to deal with it. These solutions will be coming from front line F&B management experts who are living it in real life. As a group of people, they will understand they are not alone and leave with solutions and ways to build results at their club:
  • Topic #1 – A New (or maybe old) Member Sense of Entitlement
  • Topic #2 – Does the World Get Offended Easily

Jim Hope, CCM, CCE
General Manager/Chief Operating Officer
Derrick Golf & Winter Club

Jim is proud to serve the Derrick Golf & Winter Club in Edmonton, Alberta as General Manager/Chief Operating Officer. He has managed clubs on Vancouver Island, in the Okanagan Valley and in Calgary where he resided for 15 years. He is a past Provincial and National President of the Club Management Association of Canada (CMAC). 

Jim believes success in the club industry comes from the sharing of ideas and information. With continued education and networking, club leaders will create, discover, and improve best practices that make our clubs a cornerstone of our members' lives.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, from Theory to Practice
This session goes through the basics of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, redefining the basic foundations to centre them around action and accountability, helping the audience to reflect on a personal and professional level.  The second part of the session is a primer on unconscious bias with practical examples and takeaways that can be applied immediately.
​Jaime Chinchilla
DEI Advisor
Johnston Group

Jaime is a diversity, equity and inclusion professional with proven experience in the development, implementation, delivery, and evaluation of training programs and strategies in business settings. Jaime possesses postsecondary education in Equity Diversity and Inclusion from the University of British Columbia and is skilled in and training and education, Intercultural communication, workshop facilitation, music and multimedia production.

At the University of Manitoba Jaime helps his students advance their career or create new opportunities by increasing their intercultural fluency. He has taught for several years in the Human Resources Management and Business Management programs, delivering courses like Intercultural Communication, Canadian Workplace, Professional Networking, Powerful Business Writing among others.  At University of Winnipeg he currently teaches at their PACE program.

Jaime is currently the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advisor for Johnston Group, where he is in charge of the organization’s DEI strategy advancement.

As an artist Jaime specializes in music composition, arranging, performance, audio production, artist management, having performed and organized events in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Canada. More recently in 2020 Jaime created the music industry online hub called Indestructible Productions at www.indestructiblemusic.com  which provides emergent musicians with the opportunity of industry support, and artist development.

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Building Bridges with Difficult Personalities - Part 2
  • Topic #3 – Why Does It Seem the Anger Metre Rises from 0 to 100 Immediately

Jim Hope, CCM, CCE
General Manager/Chief Operating Officer
Derrick Golf & Winter Club

Jim is proud to serve the Derrick Golf & Winter Club in Edmonton, Alberta as General Manager/Chief Operating Officer. He has managed clubs on Vancouver Island, in the Okanagan Valley and in Calgary where he resided for 15 years. He is a past Provincial and National President of the Club Management Association of Canada (CMAC). 

Jim believes success in the club industry comes from the sharing of ideas and information. With continued education and networking, club leaders will create, discover, and improve best practices that make our clubs a cornerstone of our members' lives.

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Fault, Flaw or Flavour?
Embark on a sensory journey as we unravel the secrets behind wine faults, flaws and flavours in this insightful seminar. Whether you're a budding enthusiast or a seasoned sommelier, understanding and detecting wine faults and flaws is a crucial skill. Join us for an exploration of common wine flaws, faults and flavours, their origins, and the impact they have on your drinking experience. 

Andrea Eby

Andrea is the Director of Italian Wine Education at the Wine Scholars Guild and holds the title of Italian Wine Ambassador through Vinitaly International Academy. She is a Sommelier Instructor with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS/ACSP) and a member of the CAPS National Education Committee. Andrea serves as a member of the expert judging panels at the Decanter World Wine Awards, International Wine & Spirits Competition, International Wine Challenge and Vinitaly 5 Star Wines. 

Andrea is a Stage 2 Masters of Wine student that has worked for more than a decade in the wine world; as a wine buyer, in retail sales, and as a drinks educator at one of Canada’s top wine stores. In 2020 she founded Vinsanity Vinsanity School of Wine, becoming a leading provider of the prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust courses. Andrea splits her time between Canada, Italy and the UK.

 Wednesday, February 28

8:30 am - 9:30 am
Club Career Paths

Jeff Germond, CCM
GGA Partners

Jeff brings more than three decades of strategic thinking and leadership experience to the GGA Executive Search team. His experience encompasses all aspects of club management, from food & beverage to operations, finances and human resources. His vast knowledge of the inner workings of high-end private clubs and all aspects of food & beverage operations will benefit all clients who need to fill culinary and all leadership positions.

Jeff began his career as an Executive Chef. From the onset, he focused on honing his ability to build and foster high-performance teams while creating a culture of innovation. It wasn’t long before he was offered senior management positions at notable clubs including St. Catharine’s Golf & Country Club, the National Golf Club of Canada, the Hamilton Golf & Country Club, Markland Wood Golf Club, and the St. Thomas Golf & Country Club. Prior to joining the GGA team as a Director in the Executive Search practice, Jeff was the COO at Mississaugua Golf & Country Club.

Jeff stays abreast of emerging trends and best industry practices through a commitment to continued professional development. He is also the National Past President of the Club Management Association of Canada (CMAC) as well as the Past President of both the Ontario Branch (2016-17) and the Southwestern Ontario Branch (2002-03) of the Canadian Society of Club Managers.

On a personal note, Jeff resides in Port Stanley with his wife Sally, and they are proud parents of Rebecca, Daniella, and Jamie. When he isn’t searching for the perfect candidate to fill an executive-level role for our clients, he can be found curling, playing golf and reinventing his own recipes.

9:45 am - 10:45 am
The Influence of Restaurant Technology – Changing Member Expectations 
  • How Technology Can Enhance F&B Service 
    • Preferences and allergies at the POS 
    • Mobile POS for servers 
    • Online Ordering for Self-Service 
    • Kitchen technology  
    • Reservation confirmations and reminders 
    • Member Feedback on F&B Experience 
    • Events & Banquet Coordination 
  • F&B Technology Maintenance  
  • F&B Staff Training Strategies 

Masroor Ansari
Lead Product Manager Enterprise Systems
Jonas Club Software

Masroor has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and IT from York University. He has spent the last 15 years at Jonas Club Software working in a variety of roles including support, care, and product management. In addition to his interest in helping to improve the experience of club management professionals using technology in their Clubs, Masroor also enjoys cuisines from all over the world. 

Michael Lee
Account Manager
Jonas Club Software

Michael Lee received a Bachelor of Business in Golf Management from Georgian College and has spent nine years in the Club industry including his time with Jonas Club Software. As a former member of the PGA of Ontario and with his extensive first-hand knowledge of the Club industry, Michael is able to support club management professionals seeking technical solutions to everyday challenges.  

10:45 am - 11:45 am
Performance Under Pressure
A game where precision is everything, Jennifer has played in her share of nail-biting high-pressure situations. Whether it be “The Shot” at the 2005 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada’s Olympic Curling Trials or the world’s biggest stage at the Sochi Olympics, Jennifer knows what it takes to perform and succeed under pressure. She will share her personal experiences on how to deal with high pressure situations in order to achieve the desired outcome.

Jennifer Jones
Olympic Gold Medal Skip, Curling

From an early age Jennifer stood out as one destined to achieve great things. As a toddler her parents placed her in daycare while they played at Winnipeg’s St. Vital Curling Club. Not interested in playtime, Jennifer would often be found with her face up to the glass, getting an early understanding for the sport she’d come to master later in life. She started curling at the age of 11, having early success by becoming provincial junior champion in 1991 and in 1993 as a skip. She led her team to a Canadian junior title in 1995.

Jennifer and her team claimed their spot as one of the top teams in the world at the 2005 Scott Tournament of Hearts. Her curling skills were on full display as she made one of the sports most memorable shots. Down to her final shot trailing 6-4 to Ottawa’s Jenn Hanna who was sitting on the shot rock, Jennifer was left with only one hope — a difficult in-off that, if all went perfectly, would give the Winnipeg skip her first Canadian crown. That’s exactly what happened as Jones came from behind to take the title. Jennifer and her team went on to further success on the international stage, including a world championship in 2008 and three more Scotties Tournament of Hearts titles (2008, 2009, 2010).

The 2013 season saw Jennifer’s team hit their peak just at the right time as they captured the gold medal and a birth in the Sochi Winter Olympics with a victory over Team Ontario in the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials. Jennifer became the first female skip to go through the Olympic games undefeated en route to a gold medal in Sochi 2014. It was Canada’s first gold in the event since the great Sandra Schmirler won at the 1998 games in Nagano.

When not at the rink, Jennifer works as a corporate lawyer. Her legal background includes private practice, in-house legal counsel for an independent wealth management company, and senior legal advisor for a Canadian Bank.