As a food innovator, Amy’s experience and successes sit at the crossroads of food, strategy, and brand to develop market performing products and scalable businesses. Amy has spent the last 15 years, in the food industry, leading innovation and product development teams in both the food service, meal kit and CPG channels. Amy’s career is focused on new to this world approaches to solving ever evolving consumer needs, with an eye to emerging agricultural and processing technologies while delivering products that delight. She has had the opportunity to collaborate with many big players in the food world, i.e. the Mars Global Innovation Group, Dannon, McCormick’s, Stoneyfield, Heinz, Organic Valley, and Panera Bread. Currently, Amy heads up the Product Development group for SpoonfulOne, a start-up creating new food products focused on food allergy prevention so children and families can eat freely and without fear. SpoonfulOne is the only “po Previous to Before Brands, as the Founding Executive Chef and VP of Innovation Projects at Revolution Foods, Amy joined the co-founders and set out to disrupt the status quo in the $18 billion school food service marketplace. As a member of the executive team, Amy lead a cross functional team who created a new food platform for the industry. With Amy’s pursuit of culinary excellence and business acumen, Revolution Foods has delivered access to kid-inspired, chef-crafted meals nation-wide and achieved rapid growth with $150M in revenue. Outside the kitchen, she has extensive experience working with food leaders to identify how to create scalable sustainable food systems and was three times sent as a delegate to Slow Foods Terra Madre in Turin, Italy. Four years running, she hosted an officers class from the National Defense University, formally the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and received civilian accommodation for her work with them on scalable, safe and clean supply chain and nutrition. She attended culinary school at San Francisco’s Tante Marie’s in North Beach and worked in fine dining, most notably at Insalata’s restaurant in Marin County. She ran a successful catering business for three years and was a chef instructor at Sur La Table, Copia, and Parties that Cook. She has a BA from Lewis and Clark College in English Literature.
Senior Marketing Director
E&J Gallo Winery
The Jackfruit Company
Annie Ryu is the founder and CEO of The Jackfruit Company and Global Village Fruit, Inc. (GVF). Annie founded GVF in the summer of 2011, while working in India to implement a maternal and child healthcare program that she and her brother had developed. In discovering jackfruit, Annie saw an incredible opportunity to convert an underutilized crop to nutritious, delicious food, and income and opportunity for farming families. Annie worked to build GVF during her junior and senior years at Harvard, simultaneously winning Harvard’s Women in Business Competition, Harvard’s i3 Innovation Challenge, and the Resolution Project’s Social Venture Challenge, and being recognized as a Global Good Fund Fellow, an Honorary Fellow at the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT, and one of Glamour’s Top 10 College Women.
Graduating first in her class in 2013 (Sophia Freund Prize), Annie declined the Fulbright Fellowship and the Rockefeller Fellowship to work full-time building Global Village Fruit. In 2015, Annie and her team launched The Jackfruit Company. After introducing four retail products in September 2015, The Jackfruit Company won the NEXTY Editor’s Choice Award at Expo East. Now the global leader for jackfruit products and farm-to-market supply chains, The Jackfruit Company’s retail products are available at retailers from coast to coast. The Jackfruit Company also launched a bulk foodservice product which can be found on restaurant and university menus nationwide. In recognition of her work, Annie was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for Social Entrepreneurs in January 2017. In July 2017, Annie and her team introduced exciting innovation to the frozen fruit aisle with the launch of frozen ripe jackfruit to grocery stores. In 2018, TJC launched frozen single jackfruit entrée bowls, offering jackfruit in a convenient, ready-to-eat format with a complete nutritional profile. In 2019, the company’s first shelf-stable jackfruit products will hit the marketplace.
Before attending Harvard and launching Global Village Fruit, Annie grew up in Rochester, MN (18 years). She graduated as valedictorian of Mayo High School, where she served as President of the Student Government, President of the Spanish Club, captain (state champion ‘09) of the varsity tennis team, and concertmaster (4 years) of the orchestra. She currently resides in Boulder, CO.
Vice President of Research & Development
Bakkavor Group Ltd.
Director of Product Development
La Terra Fina USA
Dan has been working in the food industry for over 25 years, starting in the trenches at Starbucks where he developed his deep love of good coffee and strong desire to work regular hours. He then managed to annoy his way into an internship at Mattson, the nation’s premier food product development firm, where they kept him and let him make things for over 11 years. While at Mattson he was featured in the 2005 Malcom Gladwell New Yorker article “The Bakeoff”. He was lured away from Mattson by Windsor Foods in Hayward to lead part of the product development team for frozen Asian meals and appetizers. Since he always has felt that he should be in charge, he jumped at the chance to prove it at La Terra Fina, a fast growing, premium brand currently placed in the deli category with dips and quiche leading their portfolio. This is where he and his small team do product innovation and renovation. During his tenure at La Terra Fina sales have tripled and they have successfully launched over 20 new products that account for a significant percentage of that growth.
Corporate Exec. Chef
Senior Vice President of Innovation
The Safe + Fair Food Company
Hana Group North America
Director of Research & Development
Vice President, Research & Development and Innovation
Simmons Pet Food, Inc.
Leah Lambrakis is a University of Guelph Alumna, focusing her studies in the fields of Animal Science and Animal Nutrition. During her graduate studies, Leah held a position at the Toronto Zoo, working as a Nutrition Research Assistant. Her research included the nutritional evaluation of captive diets for several exotic species, as well as assisting in the diet management for species in reintroduction programs. In 1999, Leah moved into the field of Companion Animal Nutrition at Menu Foods Limited, now owned by Simmons Pet Food. Throughout her career, Leah has formulated and launched over 1000 pet food products in market, across Private Brands, Pet Specialty, Organic and Veterinary platforms. During her journey in product development, Leah gained a broad level of knowledge and experience in pet food processing, manufacturing, ingredient functionality, and food science. Today, Leah holds the position of Vice President, Research & Development and Innovation at Simmons Pet Food, leading a team of 23 scientists across Simmons Pet Food's wet, dry, and treat divisions. Leah has a passion for innovation, nutrition, health & wellness and consumer insights.
Director of R&I
Happy Family Organics
Magdalena Bartosik is a food research & innovation professional with 14 years’ experience in the baby food industry. She holds a PhD in Technical Sciences from Lodz University of Technology in Poland.
Magda began her professional career in Poland in 2005 by joining Danone as a Product Development Specialist responsible for baby food jars development. She then took several different assignments focusing on wet weaning food development for Danone European business units.
In 2014, Magda joined Happy Family Organics, leading the Research & Innovation team responsible for new organic product and packaging innovations in baby, toddler and kid categories. Focusing on both wet and dry foods she has gained extensive knowledge and expertise regarding ideation, formulation, processing and packaging.
Currently, Magda holds the position of Director of Research and Innovation at Happy Family Organics. As part of the Danone Specialized Nutrition Division, she leads a team of professionals with both domestic and international scope. She is passionate about mission driven, best in class and sustainable innovations for young & vulnerable consumers.
Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer
Product Development Manager
Barilla America, Inc.
After graduating in agriculture science and receiving his ph.d in plant genetics, Maroun Atallah started his career leading projects in plants biotechnology, biodiversity and hybridization research. He joined Barilla in 2007 as a scientist, leading research on durum wheat within R&D. A couple of years later, he took the lead of the ingredients research and applications unit leading innovative projects for new product development and value for money. In 2015, he was in charge of the R&D strategic initiatives and processes in Europe Region, covering pasta, sauces and bakery products under Barilla Brand. Currently, with base in Chicago, he has been leading the sauces development and upgrading for the US market. During his speech in the American Food Innovate Summit, Maroun will go through the product design and the innovative approach behind the tomato sauces strategy and the recent sauces launch in the US.
Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff and Chief Innovation Officer
Dairy Farmers of America
As DFA’s executive vice president, chief of staff and chief innovation officer, Monica is responsible for a wide range of duties related to the overall success of DFA. Monica entered the dairy industry nearly 30 years ago and joined DFA’s headquarters in 2006 as vice president of corporate communications and member relations. She currently serves on DFA’s crisis preparedness team, strategic planning and policy committee. She also leads the Cooperative’s innovation efforts, including its partnership with the Sprint Accelerator and DFA’s investments in ag tech and dairy food start-ups. In addition, she serves on a number of industry committees and boards, including Global Dairy Platform’s marketing committee, as chair of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s communications committee and on the board of directors for the Center for Food Integrity. She also works closely with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy on crisis communications strategies.
Vice President of Innovation
Natalie currently serves as the Vice President of Innovation for Surlean Foods in San Antonio, TX. She has a bachelor’s degree in food science and technology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and a master’s in business administration from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. She has been in the food industry since 2002 in progressive roles within the field of research and development. During this time, she has played a leadership role in innovation process and product design across a variety of channels and product types. Channels include national accounts, food service, retail, club store, K-12 schools and college and universities.
In addition to Natalie’s technical experience she is passionate about building mutual trust and respect to enable high performing individual contributors and teams. Because of this collaborative nature and leadership style she has been able to unite departments and impact overall organizational culture.
Natalie has been a member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) since 2002 serving as an IFT Ambassador and assisting students and entrepreneurs in answering questions within the field of food science. She also serves as the Chair Elect for the Alamo Section of IFT, bringing relevant educational content and networking opportunities to regional members. In addition to IFT, Natalie is a member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and served on the board of A Child’s Voice Child Advocacy Center from 2017 – 2018.
Earle & Company
Paul W. Earle, Jr. is a brand and innovation professional, entrepreneur, intrapreneur, and lecturer with significant experience in design, the development of new products and services, new venture formation, intellectual property licensing, marketing communications of all kinds, and traditional brand management and strategy.
At present, Paul is Principal of Earle & Company (www.PaulEarle.com), an innovation, branding, and design collective that helps progressive companies create the future. As an adjunct professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, he co-teaches the popular “Corporate Innovation & New Ventures” class, a lab immersion that pairs student teams with top corporate partners such as McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble and Beam Suntory, amongst many others. He also writes a regular column for Forbes, where he covers innovation in the consumer products sector. Working with Forbes, he published his book ‘A Front Row Seat at the Revolution’, which profiles founders of 12 of the most disruptive brands of modern day, who were labeled ‘emerging’ not too long ago.
Co-Founder & COO
Kunal is the Co-Founder and COO of BOU, the innovative food company bringing joy back into cooking with its versatile range of bouillon, gravy and miso broth cubes, and instant soup cups. A strategic leader in the food start-up industry, Kunal is known for his ability to deliver successful marketing, operations and sales initiatives that effectively increase brand awareness and retention.
Kunal graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in Economics & Political Science before initially starting a career in finance and investment banking. After working on a management consulting project, he discovered a passion for the food and beverage industry and began his own consulting firm that helped advance F&B start-ups’ brand recognition through marketing and sales strategies. With the help of Kunal’s firm, each brand experienced triple-digit growth YoY and secured placement in thousands of new retail doors.
Kunal then took the role as US General Manger for itsu Grocery, one of the fastest-growing snack and restaurant companies in the UK. Working under CEO Robert Jakobi, Kunal developed the US brand’s sales and marketing strategies, budgets, and product formulation until the company changed direction and was acquired by Snyder’s Lance (Kettle Chips) in 2016.
In 2017, Kunal and Robert co-founded BOU in the US, disrupting a section of the supermarket that had not seen innovation in decades. Through Kunal’s ability to create and implement ROI driven sales & marketing strategies, BOU grew into a national brand in just over three months and is now available at major retailers such as Whole Foods, Kroger, Wegmans, Safeway/Albertson’s and 6,000 more retailers.
Vice President, R&D/QA
Lindt & Sprungli Inc
Sarah Keller studied at the Technical University of Zurich where she received her Master’s Degree in Food Science. She has over 25 years of experience in the food manufacturing industry and food related research institutes. Her career has involved managing various projects as well as leading teams of Research & Development (R&D), Quality Assurance (QA) and Consumer Service (CS). Sarah has mainly worked for companies with premium product brands, and she is very passionate about high quality food, their premium experience and about companies who care.
Today, Sarah holds the position of Vice President R&D/QA/CS at Lindt & Sprüngli in Stratham, NH. In addition to this role, she was appointed to the Sustainability contact person at Lindt & Sprüngli USA, and assures the regular sustainability information from group management in Switzerland is communicated to the organization in the USA.
Since 1845 Lindt is “Mastering the Art of Chocolate Making” to create the ultimate delight for consumers. Our Master Swiss Chocolatiers create the ultimate LINDT chocolate delights by focusing and controlling the entire process of chocolate making; from selecting, roasting and refining the highest quality cocoa beans, adding only the best ingredients and using the most refined recipes.
“We never compromise on quality – and that makes my job easy. It is great being part of a continuously growing company who cares, in a wonderful region together surrounded by really friendly and passionate people. I’m also excited to be involved with bringing the sustainability plan to life and making a long-term impact.” Sarah currently resides in New Hampshire with her husband and their two boys. The family relocated from Switzerland in 2009.
Chief Executive Officer
Sean has specialized in accelerating growth and establishing leadership positions for companies in the HCM industry, with a focus on launching disruptive technologies. He has founded and led four companies that achieved rapid market acceptance and global distribution of its products and services. Bisceglia’s business success began 25 years ago when he founded TFA, a technology-focused ad agency that achieved significant success. TFA was sold to Leo Burnett in 1998. After TFA, Mr. Bisceglia partnered with William Blair Ventures to acquire Corporate Project Resources, Inc (“CPRi”) where he doubled revenues in less than 2 years. In 2007, Mr. Bisceglia founded TalentDrive where he formed one of the first technology-enabled staffing businesses in the industry. In 2013, Mr. Bisceglia founded and became CEO of Scout Exchange, a platform for marketplace recruiting that serves Fortune 500 companies. As current CEO of Curion, he applies his experience in growth by innovation to consumer insights. Since joining the company in Nov of 2018, Bisceglia has already led Curion through a number of new service launches, including S2P™, Life Labs™ and eFive™.
Vice President, Research & Development
Shaughan Kennedy is the Vice President of R&D at Mars Wrigley Americas, the world’s largest confectionery company with global brands including M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, SKITTLES®, STARBURST®, ORBIT®, and ALTOIDS®. Shaughan oversees a team of 400 engineers and scientists and is responsible for optimizing cost and quality for the Confectionery business in the Americas. Shaughan began his career at Mars over 20 years ago and has experience leading R&D teams in Australia, China, Singapore, and Chicago.
As the VP of R&D, Shaughan works with his team to ensure the highest food quality and safety at Mars Wrigley while balancing the latest in confectionery innovation and new products. Shaughan constantly finds new ways to innovate and optimize the Mars Wrigley portfolio, including in an instrumental role in R&D for M&M’S Caramel, the fastest-selling confectionery innovation of all-time in 2016.
Shaughan began his professional career at Mars as a Commercial Manager in Australia in 2002, eventually leading the R&D team in Australia and moving to Beijing, China, as the VP of R&D for the country in 2010. Shaughan then led R&D for Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa from 2014 to 2017 in Singapore, and throughout his time at Mars has led global teams in the petcare, food and confectionery industries overseeing R&D, operations, supply chain, and procurement. Shaughan joined the Mars Wrigley Americas team in 2017, bringing a global perspective to the market with nearly ten years of executive leadership.
Shaughan holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Business Administration from RMIT University in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He is originally from Australia and is currently based in Kenilworth, Illinois, outside of Chicago.
Founder & CEO
Vice President of Culinary Innovation
Ricky Silver is the Vice President of Culinary Innovation at Daily Harvest, a direct-to-consumer brand delivering delicious and nourishing food that is thoughtfully sourced, chef-crafted, and ready in minutes. At Daily Harvest, Ricky leads innovation strategy, new product development, operations, and commercialization of the culinary portfolio.
Previously, Ricky was the Director of Innovation at Vita Coco, the global-leader in RTD Coconut Water where he led the development of the brand’s portfolio diversification into new categories including coconut milk, coconut oil, sparkling waters and more. Ricky started his career at PepsiCo where he leveraged his chemistry and food science backgrounds to manage multiple R&D platforms across the business.
Ricky received his MBA from NYU Stern and his Masters in Chemistry from NYU. His passion for food stems from his years as a personal chef in NYC.
Luis Carlos Chacón
Op-Ed Columnist | Global Consultant
Forbes Latin America | BusinessCase
Luis Carlos Chacón leads the BusinessCase team, global boutique consultancy that works with multinational FMCGs identifying emerging and future business opportunities. Also, has been a columnist for Forbes Latin America for several years (being nowadays top-rated) and currently finishing a postgraduate degree in Global Business at the University of Oxford (where previously graduated in Strategy and Innovation), his educational background includes studies in Design Thinking at Stanford, and Futures at The University of Manchester, and Houston. In business, he has worked for more than nineteen years for the operations of Fortune 500 Companies such as Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, LVMH, Diageo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Dannon, AbInbev, among many others. Behavioral economics enthusiast (understanding the cross between needs and contexts) and believer in connecting the distant (linking the disconnected but inseparable) under the influence of socio-cultural changes in industries and consumption.
Sarah is passionate about innovation and technology in the food, beverage and nutrition industry. From her background of nutritional sciences and business innovation, Sarah has become an industry expert across the entire food and beverage value chain from industry 4.0 to alternative protein sourcing. Sarah excels at engaging her audience by presenting well-thought-out analysis and provide insights on disruptive technologies and the players behind them which is highly appreciated by clients and provides them with a clear strategic direction moving forward.
At FutureBridge, she uses her extensive experience to help clients solve complex business challenges which includes everything from scouting the right sugar reduction technology that fits to their products specifications to identifying new biodegradable packaging materials that will contribute to the client’s sustainability strategies. Before joining FutureBridge, Sarah held a similar successful positions in which she led many engaging projects with global leaders in the food and beverage space to set them up for new product development success.
Director of Corporate Engagement
The Good Food Institute
Alison leads the Corporate Engagement department at the Good Food Institute and advises some of the world’s largest food companies, entrepreneurs, investors, restaurants, and retailers on business opportunities in the rapidly evolving fields of plant-based and cultivated meat, eggs, and dairy. Alison has 30 years of advertising, marketing, and sales experience having worked with brands including Taco Bell, Levi Strauss, Gap, Kiplinger’s, and Parents magazine. She was the founder of a marketing consultancy that she ran for 17 years working with General Mills, BET, Time Inc., NBC Universal, and Gourmet Ads. She is a graduate of Wellesley College.
Vice President, Culinary and Physical Products
John Adler is the VP of Culinary and Physical Products at Blue Apron, where he oversees the product and culinary teams who work together to design, create, and test new products and recipes for Blue Apron customers to enjoy every week. Prior to Blue Apron, John was the Executive Chef at Franny’s, a renowned Italian restaurant in the heart of Brooklyn. Prior to Franny’s, John worked in the kitchen at Per Se and Blue Hill Stone Barns. John’s passion for cooking is guided by the belief that “the most important aspect of cooking and food is that it has to make you happy.”
Senior Director, Consumer & Product Insights
Jill Fruchter is the Senior Director of Consumer & Product Insights at Blue Apron where she leads the effort to deeply understand consumer mindsets and behaviors, their expectations, unmet needs and the problems they’re trying to solve. Her work informs brand, product and customer strategy. Prior to Blue Apron, Jill led UX Research for Buyer Experience at Etsy. Prior to Etsy, Jill had her own UX research consulting business. Jill's passion for insights comes from her belief that the best way to drive business results is to nurture shared value between the customer and the business by discovering moments of alignment. She's never met a research method or data set that she didn't like.
Founder & CEO
Matt Godinsky is a research analyst at Euromonitor International based in Chicago. In his role, Matt analyses the services and payments landscape, providing insights on consumer trends, innovation, competitive environments and the effects of economic dynamics across industries. Matt is primarily focused on North American markets, with an emphasis on the US and Canada. He is a key contributor of data and content to Passport, Euromonitor’s syndicated research database. Prior to joining Euromonitor, Matt worked as an economics research assistant at the University of Illinois Urban—Champaign and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Grinnell College.
Aylon is an expert in the alternative protein industry and has spoken regularly on food innovation at conferences and schools such as Harvard, MIT, Yale, Berkeley, and Stanford. In his work at the Good Food Institute, Aylon incubated dozens of startups and advised investors and strategic partners on the protein alternative space. Aylon has co-founded two startups and has worked with companies such as Kraft Heinz, Nestle, and Kellogg’s.
Thomas is a world-renowned product developer, food scientist, and chef. As the former Director of Product Development at JUST, Thomas created and scaled some of the best selling plant-based products in market, such as JUST Mayo, Cookie Doughs, and Dressings. Thomas has also chef’d or staged at a total of 16 Michelin star restaurants, was named Zagat 30 Under 30, and was twice nominated for the James Beard Rising Star Chef award.