Niagara Food & Beverage Summit on Oct 23


Wednesday, October 23 2019
8:00 AM Registration and Breakfast
5:30 PM Finish

The Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre will host the Niagara Food & Beverage Summit on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus. The event will discuss previous, current, and future trends in the food and beverage industry and make educated conclusions with industry experts.

This event is an opportunity for thought leaders, experts, product developers, marketers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and ideators in the food and beverage space to learn from each other in a dynamic and comfortable setting.

This event also focuses on one of the hottest subjects in the food product development world at the moment – the integration of cannabis into the food chain in preparation for legal status in Canada. Experts will discuss Cannabis 101 and different views on how it will shape the future of what the cannabis edibles industry could look like in the not too distant future!


→     Explore trendsetting concepts including past, current, and forecasted trends and fads from industry trend experts
→     Grow your product from idea, to concept, to marketing, to product development utilizing marketing experts and concept-shelf thinking
→     Discuss and learn the regulatory difficulties from experts who helped the USA legalize edibles
→     Explore barriers and potential solutions when infusing cannabis into edibles

→     Discuss the lasting impact of Gen Z and millennial generations, how they overlap, how they differ, and how to differentiate your market space appropriately
→     Discuss the evolution of language, marketing, and environmental imperatives and their ties to food and innovation with marketing experts
→     On-trend workshops in plant-based alternatives, de-risking product introductions, taste the modifications, and exploring cannabis




Explore Trends:

Christine Couvelier is a Culinary Executive, Executive Chef, and a Global Culinary Technologist. With over 30 years of experience, this world-class chef and founder of Culinary Concierge, assists clients in the creation of award-winning food products, services and strategies that help them build their brands and keep them ahead of market trends.

Christine is the past Executive Chef of President’s Choice, the Director of Culinary & Beverage/Executive Chef at Cara Operations, and the Chair of The Chef School of George Brown College. She worked on Global Innovation for Unilever and was the first Director of Culinary Strategy at Maple Leaf Foods, where she worked on the vision, design & construction of the ThinkFOOD! Centre.





Explore Cannabis:

Skyler Webb is the Director of Product Development at Cannabistry, a professional research, development and branding company dedicated to bringing outstanding product innovations to legalized marijuana industries. His previous professional background includes positions in Quality Assurance, Process Engineering and Research & Development for various Food and Beverage companies where he acquired skills developing responsible and safe food products.

Since at Cannabistry, he has specialized in applying the inherent sensory and therapeutic properties of cannabis to infused products with controlled delivery and increased bioavailability across various routes of administration. Combining his educational and professional background, Skyler has become dedicated to developing cannabis infused products which deliver a safe, effective and satisfying experience to consumers.







Kimberly Stuck was the first Cannabis specialist for a public health authority in the nation in Denver CO. She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition/Biochem, is a Certified Professional in Food Safety (CP-FS), a Certified Quality Auditor (CQA), and is a leading expert in Cannabis food safety. Kim is the Founder of Allay Consulting LLC, a consulting firm that helps the Cannabis industry overcome compliance pitfalls in FDA, cGMP Certification, ISO Certification, OSHA, and Fire code. Kim has spoken at several different industry conferences including Hemp and Hops, INDO Expo, NCIA and Imperious Expo.

She is also a judge for the Colorado Manufacturing Awards who has recently allowed a Cannabis/Hemp manufacturing product award. She is a member of Cannabis Sustainability Board in Denver, the CDPHE Science and Policy work group, DDPHE Cannabis Health and Safety Advisory Board, the CDA CHAMP Initiative work group, and the ASTM Cannabis Standards work group. Her professionalism and dedication to the cannabis industry has saved companies not only time but millions of dollars of lost revenue. She continues to be a leader in the space preaching that Cannabis should be treated as any other commodity and continues to fight for normalization of Cannabis.







At his core, The Herbal Chef™ is a passionate science and biology student who turned to the chemistry of food plant medicine, to feed the intellectual side of his creations. Among the first professional to enter the Cannabis industry, Christopher Sayegh has pioneered Cannabis Infused Fine-Dining in an effort to elevate the perception of marijuana through mainstream media. These activations include art, music, fine wine and top notch ingredients, simultaneously and effortlessly educating his audience while entertaining them with culinary enlightenment. Currently, Chris consults for companies producing gourmet edibles, catered and private dinners, as well as leading the charge in culinary education for Cannabis throughout the globe.

The Herbal Chef has been featured in every major news company around the world (including The Guardian, CNN, Fox News, CBS, GQ, Forbes, Fast Company, etc) to document his incredible innovation in the cannabis and culinary space. With the preciseness of Chris’ infusions and ongoing stardome in media, Chris has already been able to solidify his space as the #1 cannabis infusion chef in the world. With a seemingly endless supply of passion and drive, Chris has his sights set on leaving a positive impact on the world through his medium of choice, food. Through consulting as a content strategist or to menu and edible creation, this is a refreshing take on sharing his vision with the world that is The Herbal Chef ™.




Nadine Farran-Gatti is a business leader with proven success at client relationships, and initiating and managing new ventures. She is the Canadian Manager for FONA International, a company that develops and produces flavours for many of the largest food, beverage, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Nadine has been working in the Flavour industry for the past 19 years. Prior to joining the food industry, Nadine specialized in National Account Management for Consumer Packaged Goods – Health & Beauty.

Nadine is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where she studied Business andCommunications. She also has a Specialist in Leadership & Management from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In her spare time, Nadine is on the Board of Governors for St. Mildred’s Lightbourn School, an independent school for Girls in Oakville, ON.




Mitin Rathod is an influential Marketing, Research, and Innovation professional with over two decades of experience in helping organizations navigate through various business dilemmas. Mitin has a broad global experience working with large retailers like WAL-MART, consulting company KANTAR and with leading cpg’s like MARS, SCOTTS MIRACLE-GRO, and BASKIN ROBBINS.

Mitin has led several ground breaking initiatives leveraging “user experience” as a platform to create category defining product and marketing executions. Mitin is also active in the community, as a guest lecturer and a trained mentor for start-ups helping translate ideas from the thought bubble into business blueprint on paper.



Dr. Ana Cristina Vega Lugo, Senior Food Scientist for the Canadian Food & Wine Institution Innovation Centre, part of the Research & Innovation Division at the College. Ana Cristina is responsible for managing the research/student team and resources required for all product and process innovation, food safety, analytical lab and label compliance services, and other technical service and applied research activities. A trained food engineer and scientist with a PhD degree in food science, Ana Cristina has 10 years’ experience in food science and commercialization, including in development, troubleshooting and applicable packaging science and technology. Her most recent position was with Hela Spice Canada as a senior product developer.





Peter Crooks: Mr. Crooks, a neuropharmacologist by education, brings more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in product and brand development across food & beverage, natural health products, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Recognized in 2017 as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs, Mr. Crooks has successfully led a multi-disciplinary team of chefs, food scientists, marketing professionals and product developers to become Canada’s leading food product development center.

In his career he has overseen the development of over 2,100 products. He also has been involved in the conceptualization, design and build of three Maritime-based innovation and applied research centers and currently advises several Federal departments on the future of food and innovation. Peter, in his role as the Chief Product Innovation Officer for Dosecann Cannabis Solutions, now applies his experience in the design and development of a large portfolio of cannabis derivative products.





Exploring Plant Based with Hela Spice

Learn the ins and outs of plant-based trends with a hands-on approach, leaving you with a better understanding of how meat and dairy analogues work. Compare various plant-based proteins in terms of functionality and hydration in addition to discovering problem-solving techniques for common issues in the plant-based world.




Kaela Lewis is a Senior Product Developer at Hela Spice Canada Inc. Her role at Hela Spice involves custom food product development for customers across the food industry, working on all aspects of development from functionality to flavour. As a food scientist, she specializes in development of bakery and dairy products. Over the last couple years, she has shifted her developments to plant based products. Kaela works very closely with clients to develop custom and innovative products, tailored to their needs. Kaela is passionate about developing food products that are sustainable, as well as great tasting.



Michael Vahabi is the Technical Sale Support Manager at Hela Spice Canada Inc. His role at Hela Spice allows him to walk the line between sales and product development, from formulation of products to being the technical authority in customer meetings. Michael has recently joined Hela and brings with him many years of product development experience in areas from fresh prepared foods packaged under modified atmosphere, frozen meals, pastry, and sauces. Michael’s career has been guided by a strong passion for food and an unquenchable desire to continue learning.

Expectation vs. Reality: Strategies to de-risk product introductions with Vineland Research

Liking the concept is one thing. Liking the product is another. Many modern consumers are excited about products they haven’t yet tried. But what happens when consumer expectations don’t align with what we know to be the true product characteristics? This session will highlight case studies from the natural products category introducing consumers to new products and product concepts and the surprising elements that caught consumers’ attention.




Dr. Alexandra Grygorczyk is a Research Scientist in Consumer Insights at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. She completed her Ph.D. in food science prior to joining Vineland, where she conducts sensory and consumer research and contract testing for the food and horticulture industries. Dr. Grygorczyk is a regular speaker at industry and scientific conferences and her work has been featured in news outlets such as the Toronto Star, FreshPlaza, FloralDaily and locally through the St. Catharines Standard.




Dr. Amy Bowen is the Research Director of Consumer Insights at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario, Canada. She oversees the operation of Vineland’s trained sensory and consumer research panels to understand the drivers that impact consumer preference and choice for horticultural products. Amy leads a team of researchers to create value-added results to inform breeding programs, brand development, new variety introductions, and commercialization.


Taste the Modification with Fona

Exploring the 3 M’s: The challenging Functional Bases require tools that are specifically formulated to mask, modify and add mouthfeel.


Nadine Farran-Gatti is a business leader with proven success at client relationships, and initiating and managing new ventures. She is the Canadian Manager for FONA International, a company that develops and produces flavours for many of the largest food, beverage, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Nadine has been working in the Flavour industry for the past 19 years. Prior to joining the food industry, Nadine specialized in National Account Management for Consumer Packaged Goods – Health & Beauty.



Jason Mittelheuser began his career at FONA International in 2009.  Since that time, he has made significant contributions to the organization with Research and Innovation in taste modification.  His experience carried him over to Applications, where he has worked on beverages, OTC, savory applications.  He is a faculty member of Flavor University, where he presents on areas including Taste Modification, Performance Nutrition, and Dairy/Dairy Alternatives.  Jason has a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Northern Illinois University.


Exploring Cannabis from a higher education prospective with
Niagara College

Niagara College is leading the way in Canada education; understand what is being taught to the future leaders of this exploding industry and tour the facility.


Bill is a professor at Niagara College where he is coordinator of the newly created Commercial Cannabis Production programs. His area of specialization is plant nutrition, but all aspects of controlled environment plant production has been a focus of his teaching, research and industry experience. Prior to teaching at Niagara College he was involved in the greenhouse industry for more than 25 years as an owner/grower/manager, including being production manager of a 450,000 sq. ft. greenhouse in Nova Scotia and owning and operating a one-acre greenhouse in Fenwick, ON.





Alan Unwin worked as an environmental consultant for numerous years both in the fields of Waste Management and Ecological Restoration before joining Niagara College in 1995 as a full-time faculty member. Through this work, Alan has gained extensive international experience in Argentina, Ecuador, India, Sri Lanka, Jordan and Thailand. In September of 2011, Alan became the Associate Dean for the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies.




Tour Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus; a 125-acre campus featuring the NC Teaching Brewery, Teaching Winery, Teaching Distillery, Teaching Greenhouse, Benchmark Restaurant and the NC Teaching Spa. The campus is a nature forward environment with its own ecological lagoons, wetland systems, hop yard, culinary garden, landscaped gardens and a 40-acre teaching vineyard. This campus is also home to the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre, which offers a full suite of services to support innovation in the industry on the road to commercialization of new products and processes.

To register, click here:

→     Access to keynotes and panels
→     Access to 1 specialized breakout session
→     Parking
→     Morning refreshments
→     Lunch
→     Networking refreshments
click here 
Food and beverage innovators
Research and development teams
Marketing teams and trendologists
F&B strategy and consulting firms
Food and beverage industry
Cannabis industry and product developers
Growers/producers looking for new revenue streams



8:00am: Registration/Breakfast

8:40am: Introduction to summit


9:00am: Canadian Food & Wine Institute introduction to Trendology session

9:10am: Keynote Speaker: Christine Couvelier; Culinary Concierge

10:00am: Trend-ology Panel (Nadine Farran- Gatti; Fona, Mitin Rathod; Sensient, Genevieve Dube; Bell Flavors)

–  Breakout Sessions  –

10:50am (Exploring plant based proteins with Hela Spice, Expectation vs. reality with Vineland Research, Taste modification with Fona, Exploring cannabis from a higher education prospective with Niagara College).


12:00pm:  In Cafeteria catered by Benchmark Restaurant  


1:15pm: Tours of CFWIIC (Participants who opt in)


2:00pm: Cannabis Agriculture NC Rep introduction to Cannabis Session

2:10pm: Keynote Speaker: Skyler Webb; Cannabistry Labs

2:40pm: Cannabis Panel: Chris Sayegh; the Herbal Chef, Kimberly Stuck; Allay Consulting LLC, Dr. Peter McCourt; University of Toronto,


3:30pm: Summary of day: Dr. Ana Christina Vega-Lugo

3:40pm: Closing Remarks: Lyndon Ashton  

3:50pm: Networking; Benchmark Restaurant




Food in Canada – Platinum Level Sponsor
Invest Hamilton Niagara – Gold Level Sponsor
Niagara Industrial Association - Gold Level Sponsor
Food and Beverage Ontario – Silver Level Sponsor
Two Sisters Vineyards – Silver Level Sponsor
Ontario Craft Brewers – Bronze Level Sponsor




 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council