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2015 Advisory Committee

2015 Advisory Committee

The CONNECT Show is pleased to have a team of advisors in place – all professionals with significant experience and expertise in the hospitality industry – to offer guidance in all aspects of planning for the 2015 show. The Committee members come from all sectors of the industry and are providing extremely valuable input from their unique industry perspectives. Please meet the 2015 CONNECT Advisory Committee:

 sar 3 Shatha Al-Reihani
General Manager
The Plaza Hotel Kamloops
Shatha Al-Reihani, General Manager of The Plaza Hotel in Kamloops has spent over thirty years in management and leadership roles in the hospitality industry where she has developed expertise in hotel management, marketing, sales, and administration working for premiere brands like Sheraton, Meridien, Hyatt, and the Metropolitan Group as well as independent luxury hotels like The King Edward Hotel in Toronto.  Shatha was hired by The Plaza Hotel to oversee the successful renovation, reopening and rebranding of this historic boutique property, turning it from a value property to one of the city’s top-5 rated hotels. 
 michael Michael Audet
Marketing & Customer Relations Manager
Sysco Vancouver
Michael was born in Ontario and moved to BC in 1994.  He started his career in the foodservice industry out of school working in a variety of roles in restaurants both in Ontario and BC.  In 1999 he joined Sysco Vancouver and over the past 15 years he has risen through various departments to his current position as Marketing and Customer Relations Manager. With Sysco Vancouver being a strong BC industry supporter of many events and memberships, it was a natural progression for Michael to take on the role of representing Sysco Vancouver within the industry. Over the last 3 years Michael, in addition to various small industry activities, has supported the BC Chefs Association and is currently a board member of the BCRFA.In 2013, Michael developed a significant partnership with the CONNECT Show which continues today.
 Brady Brady Beruschi
General Manager
Regent Hotel
John Brugman
Brugman Commercial Kitchens
Marco Brugman
Brugman Commercial Kitchens
 warren Warren Erhart
President & CEO
White Spot Restaurants
Warren Erhart, a graduate of Malaspina College and recipient of the VIU most Distinguished Alumni award in 2010, is the President & CEO of White Spot Hospitality.  In 1990, after spending 14 years with the Keg Restaurant group, Warren joined White Spot as the Division General Manager.  In 1994 he was promoted to President and CEO. White Spot Hospitality is now over a hundred locations in Canada and Asia, and will serve over 16,000,000 guests this year. A major factor in Warren’s success has been his ability to build relationships, with employees, guests, and business partners, and his passion for giving back to the community.Warren is a past chairman of the Canadian Restaurant Foodservice Association where he has served on this board since 1993.White Spot recently celebrated its 85th anniversary, making it one of North America’s most enduring and best loved restaurant chains.  White Spot has been the recipient of many industry awards and most recently recognized at the Gold level as one of Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed Companies, received the Canadian Franchise Association’s Award of Excellence for the Traditional Franchises/Mature/Established Category, and is recognized as one of BC’s Most Loved Brands.
Patrick Greenfield
Queen’s Cross
 jamie Jamie Henderson
Executive Vice President Business Development
Keg Restaurants
Mr. Henderson has been employed with The Keg since 1973, with vast experience in Operations in both Eastern and Western Canada.  After several years as part of the Human Resources team, Mr. Henderson led the Franchise Department for 9 years prior to being appointed to his current position in 2007.
 John Kearns John Kearns
Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel
 David McIllwraith David McIlwraith
Western Canada Regional Manager
The Dudson Group
Danny Rickaby
General Manager
Adventure Hotel
 susan Susan Senecal
Vice President Operations
A & W Foodservices of Canada
As Chief Marketing Officer at A&W Food Services of Canada, Susan Senecal is in charge of strategies to market and grow the business.  A&W opened its first restaurant in Winnipeg in 1956 and has since grown to over 800 locations with over $850 million in sales last year across the country.  Susan joined A&W in 1992. Susan is a current Director and Past Chair of the Board of Restaurants Canada, a business association representing 30,000 members in Canada’s $66 billion restaurant industry, as a voice to government, source of cutting-edge research and partner for money-saving programs.
 vikram Vikram Viji
Chef & Owner
Vij’s Restaurants
Vikram Vij was born in India in 1964.  At the age of 20 he moved to Austria and earned his chef certificate from the Salzburg Hotel Management School.  From there, Vikram moved to Canada in 1989 to work at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta.  He became a certified sommelier from the International Sommelier Guild in 2000, and is passionate about pairing wines with his cuisine. Vikram is an extremely successful restaurateur and entrepreneur.  Together with his wife, Meeru Dhalwala, Vikram owns and operates Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver, Vij’s Rangoli (market and restaurant selling Vij’s At Home pre-packaged meals based on the recipes from Vij’s Restaurant), a food production facility where the packaged meals are cooked by hand, Vij’s Railway Express mobile food truck, and in 2014 a new concept restaurant called My Shanti. Vikram has been involved with the Chef’s Table Society of British Columbia, Farm Folk City Folk Organization, Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood, UBC Farm fundraisers and the Green Table Society.  As well, Vikram and Meeru’s dedication to the work done at UBC resulted in the funding and opening of Vij’s Kitchen, a state-of-the-art culinary learning facility at the University of British Columbia, dedicated to teaching the chefs and nutritionists of the future about ethnic food and cuisine.Vikram’s expertise is also recognized by Food Network Canada where he has been a guest judge on Top Chef Canada in 2011 and 2012, the guest of honour in a 2013 Top Chef Canada episode dedicated to Indian cuisine, and is currently a judge on the first ever Chopped Canada show, as well as on CBC’s Recipe to Riches, which began airing in February 2014.  In 2014, it was announced that Vikram Vij would be joining the cast of the CBC’s top rated show Dragons Den, as one of two new Dragons.Vikram and Meeru have published two award-winning cookbooks: Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, (which won the Cordon d’Or Gold Ribbon International Cookbook Award), and Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey.Vikram and Meeru live in Vancouver with their two daughters.
 rob Rob Weiss
Manufacturers Representative
Weiss Wares Ltd.
Rob Weiss is the owner of Weiss Wares Ltd., a manufacturers representative for hospitality products and equipment, based in Vancouver, BC.  Having worked in the hospitality industry for many years, Rob is not only a resourceful and self-directed sales and marketing professional, but he has also developed an extensive network with key industry players and competitors. Rob’s extensive knowledge of the foodservice and hotel equipment trade allows him to effectively represent brands and products and foster their long term development within the industry. Rob specializes in business development, product development, strategic planning and relationship marketing.  He has a natural ability to recognize opportunity, launch focused action plans and respond to changing conditions with solution-oriented leadership.