2015 TechTable Summit

2015 Summit Speakers

Dana Cowin
DBC Creative

Dana Cowin is a tastemaker and innovator in media, food and style. Her work spans public speaking, podcasts, social, video, TV, magazines, books, restaurants and events. An award-winning influencer in the food world, Cowin is building brands, speaking across the country and hosting a podcast, Speaking Broadly on Heritage Radio Network and all major podcast platforms.

On Speaking Broadly, Cowin interviews women in the hospitality industry who share the stories of their lives--their passions, their successes, their challenges and their wisdom for moving forward. Cowin has been invited to record Speaking Broadly across the country and around the world--from Japan to Montana to Portland, OR.

Cowin started a career coaching business in 2018 that focuses on helping people identify the dreams that are locked inside themselves and the devils that are holding them back. With just one or two sessions, Cowin is able to help clients set out a new, actionable plans for the future.

In 2017, Cowin launched a Brand/Editorial/Food/Digital/PR/Marketing consultancy for businesses as diverse as the farm-fast concept Dig, where she's Chief Brand Advisor, and Neiman Marcus and the Trust for Governors Island.

For 21 years (1995-2016), Cowin was the Editor in Chief of Food & Wine magazine. She transformed Food & Wine into a must-read lifestyle publication and digital outlet for anyone who wanted to track culinary trends, up-and-coming chefs, news about travel destinations, entertaining, wine and spirits.

Cowin has a longstanding commitment to helping others. She's on the board of Hot Bread Kitchen and Food Education Fund, as well as on the advisory board of Women in Hospitality United and on the Food Council of City Harvest.

Will Guidara
Made Nice

A native of Sleepy Hollow, NY, Will has been immersed in the restaurant industry since the age of 13. A graduate of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, Will began his dining room training at Spago Beverly Hills and attended culinary school in the North of Spain. He then went on to various roles throughout Union Square Hospitality Group, including at Tabla, Café 2, and the restaurants at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2006, Will became the General Manager of Eleven Madison Park, where he spearheaded the transformation of the restaurant from a French brasserie to a fine dining destination. Under Will’s leadership, the restaurant has garnered four stars from the New York Times, five stars from the Forbes Travel Guide, three Michelin Stars, and a coveted spot on the San Pellegrino’s list of the World’s 50 Best restaurants. In 2011, Will and Chef Daniel purchased Eleven Madison Park from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and in 2012 they went on to open the food and beverage spaces at the NoMad Hotel. At the NoMad, they have received numerous accolades including three stars from the New York Times and one Michelin star. A frequent guest lecturer throughout the country, Will is also the co-author of Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook and I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes.

Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard, The Modern, Maialino, Untitled, North End Grill, Marta, Porchlight, Union Square Events, and Hospitality Quotient, a learning and consulting business. Danny, his restaurants and chefs have earned an unprecedented 26 James Beard Awards, and in 2015, Danny was named to the TIME 100 list of the Most Influential People in the World. Danny’s first business book, Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), a New York Times bestseller, examines the power of hospitality in restaurants, business and life. An active national leader in the fight against hunger, Danny serves on the board of Share Our Strength and has long supported hunger relief initiatives including City Harvest, God’s Love We Deliver, and the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger. He is equally active in civic affairs, serving on the boards of NYC & Co, Union Square Partnership, and the Madison Square Park Conservancy.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk builds businesses. Fresh out of college he took his family wine business and grew it from a $3M to a $60M business in just five years. Now he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world’s hottest digital agencies. Along the way he became a prolific angel investor and venture capitalist, investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber, and Birchbox before eventually co-founding VaynerRSE, a $25M angel fund. As part of his role at Vayner/RSE, Gary has helped to personally co-found and develop multiple startups including Resy, a new breed of restaurant reservation app that has disrupted America’s fine dining scene. Gary also currently hosts The #AskGaryVee Show, a way of providing as much value as possible by taking questions about social media, entrepreneurship, startups, and family businesses and giving his answers based on a lifetime of building successful, multi-million dollar companies. The show is also available as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud. Gary is also a prolific public speaker, delivering keynotes at events like Le Web, and SXSW, which you can watch on his YouTube Channel. He was named to both Fortune and Crain’s 40 under 40 lists in consecutive years, and has been profiled in the New York Times, Fortune and Inc.

Joanne Wilson
Gotham Gal Ventures

Joanne Wilson has had many careers. She started out in retail, eventually moving to the wholesale arena. She then transitioned to the media side of the technology world, before reinventing herself as an investor. She is currently an active angel investor with a portfolio of over 65 companies such as Food52, Catchafire, Vengo, Nestio, Captureproof, Makers Row, Le Tote, and Little Borrowed Dress. She has been involved in numerous real estate transactions from beginning to end and continues to make investments in that world. She is also an investor in a few restaurants in the New York area. In addition to these endeavors, Joanne has been involved in various education projects and chairs Hot Bread Kitchen, a non­profit committed to increasing access to the culinary industry for woman and minority entrepreneurs. She also sits on the board of The Highline and Wesleyan University. Joanne has maintained her very popular blog, www.gothamgal.com, for over 10 years. She loves to bake, cook, throw a good party, travel, read, collect art, do the crossword and stay on top of what’s happening around the globe and in NYC. Her most successful venture is being married to her best friend, Fred and raising their three kids­ Jessica, Emily and Josh.

Alice Y. Cheng
Culinary Agents

Founder and CEO Alice Y. Cheng is a deeply experienced business, marketing and sales professional who is passionate about helping people build careers. In her 13 year tenure at IBM in New York and San Francisco she was one of the core team members who pioneered Big Blue’s Digital Media practice into and across multiple industries globally. While in San Francisco, she helped tech and media enterprises leverage web and infrastructure solutions, along with research and development innovations to drive growth in a challenging, fast-changing business environment. Having spent years working in a restaurant and later studying culinary arts and oenology as a hobby, Alice brings her knowledge of technology into the food and beverage industry to solve inefficiencies and gaps around talent sourcing and career development. Alice has taken, and continues to take, leadership roles in mentoring all levels of talent in the technology, business and hospitality spaces. She is the Founder and CEO of Culinary Agents, a professional networking and job matching site dedicated to the food, beverage and hospitality industry.

Steve Case
Revolution, LLC

Steve Case is one of America’s best-known and most accomplished entrepreneurs and philanthropists, and a pioneer in making the Internet part of everyday life. As Chairman and CEO of Revolution LLC, a Washington, D.C.- based investment firm he co-founded in 2005, Steve partners with visionary entrepreneurs to build significant ‘built to last’ new businesses. Revolution invests in and actively helps build significant companies leveraging technology to disrupt existing markets. This includes both early and mid-stage growth companies through both the Revolution Growth fund, created in 2011, and the Revolution Ventures fund, launched in 2013. Steve’s entrepreneurial career began in 1985 when he co-founded America Online (AOL). AOL was the first Internet company to go public. At its peak, nearly half of Internet users in the United States used AOL. Steve’s passion for helping entrepreneurs remains his driving force. He was the founding chair of the Startup America Partnership- an effort launched at the White House to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. He is also a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship and was a member of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness where he chaired the subcommittee on entrepreneurship. Steve is also Chairman of the Case Foundation, which he established with his wife Jean in 1997.

Nicolas Jammet

Nicolas Jammet is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of sweetgreen, the culinary lifestyle brand dedicated to smartly sourced, seasonal food. Nicolas and his co-founders Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman launched sweetgreen in 2007, opening their first location in Georgetown, DC, just three months out of college. In 2010, Nicolas and his partners founded The sweetlife Festival, which has grown to become the East Coast’s largest music and food festival, and sweetgreen’s biggest celebration of the sweetlife: the brand’s commitment to better living inspired by passion and purpose. The brand’s strong food ethos, embrace of passion and purpose, and investment in local communities has enabled sweetgreen to grow into a national brand with more than 31 locations across the East Coast and California. Born and raised in New York City, Nicolas grew up in a family of restaurateurs - the son of André and Rita Jammet, owners of NYC’s beloved La Caravelle. He graduated from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Patric Yumul
Mina Group

Born in Southern California and raised in Las Vegas, Patric Yumul understands the high standards and precise execution of fine dining. Joining Mina Group in 2004, Yumul has put into place one of the most comprehensive training programs for Mina Group to date. Focused on creating a culture specific to each restaurant concept, Yumul builds the most enthusiastic service teams with the proper tools and knowledge, respect, responsibility, and guidance.Appointed President of Mina Group in February 2011,Yumul brings to this role not only his diligent work ethic, but depth and breadth of knowledge and overall understanding of the restaurant and hospitality industry, from big picture to intricate detail both in front of house and back. He has been a key factor in the growth of Mina Group, working closely with Michael Mina, taking the company from 4 restaurants, to almost 20 today – with many more exciting opportunities to come. Yumul first met and began working with Mina in 1999, after an esteemed career path as corporate trainer and then general manager within the Bertolini restaurant organization. Yumul left the Bertolini group, committed to enhancing his expertise in fine dining, acceptingan offer from Mina to open AQUA at the St. Regis Monarch Beach. There he recruited, trained and developed all management and hourly associates. The next couple of years saw Yumul traveling between southern California, San Francisco and Las Vegas, assisting at AQUA Bellagio, now MICHAEL MINA Bellagio. During this time, Yumul was promoted to operations manager for AQUA Development Corp. In 2003, Yumul was tapped by Mina to open and assume the General Manager position at SEABLUE at MGM Grand, the second restaurant to open in the Mina Group organization. Soon after, Yumul was asked to assume the Vice President of Operations role at Mina Group, responsible for restaurant openings and operations of all Mina Group restaurants. Yumul continues to set the standard for fine dining by creating fun and memorable experiences.

Andrew Rigie
NYC Hospitality Alliance

Andrew Rigie is the Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade association formed in 2012 to foster the growth and vitality of the industry that has made New York City the Hospitality Capital of the World. Growing up working at his family’s fourth generation bakery & cafe in Queens, NY, Andrew was destined for a career in the hospitality industry. He later “got his apron dirty” by working multiple positions within the industry, before joining the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) in 2004. Andrew Rigie is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, New York, NY.

Greg Hong

Greg is Reserve’s CEO, Co-Founder and Board Director, responsible for setting and executing the vision for the company. Prior to starting Reserve, Greg was a small business consultant and the Director of Business Operations at true[X], where he ran their ad operations team from pre-revenue to $20 million.

Jeannie Chu
American Express

Jeannie Chu is the Vice President of Social, Content & Digital Marketing at American Express. After starting her career agency side, Jeannie joined the Global Media Team at American Express in 2007 leading holistic communications channel planning, media strategy and communications measurement across a variety of businesses (International Brand, Sponsorship, US Consumer, Small Business, Delta, Starwood, Consumer Travel Network, etc). Notable projects included the launch of OPEN Small Business’s first content series, including the development of OPENForum, supporting the American Express Unstaged concert series and the launches various digital partnerships (Twitter, FourSquare, Xbox, etc). As content development became a clear passion, Jeannie moved to the international Brand, Marketing & Communications team, where she supported the development of brand and social content that stretches across 160+ markets around the world. Jeannie recently moved into the role of Vice President working to support the brand and business with content, focusing on social channels in the US.

Jocelyn Mangan
Him For Her

Jocelyn Mangan has almost two decades of experience building iconic global mobile apps and market-leading software products. As the former head of product for OpenTable, she oversaw the vision, strategy and development of the company's consumer and restaurant products. Prior to that, Jocelyn held senior roles at TicketMaster, where she successfully led the first multi-lingual, Olympic ticketing website from concept to implementation.  

Mangan was honored as a member of the 2016 column of Henry Crown Fellows and the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute. Prior to that, Mangan was named to Fast Company’s 2015 list of “100 Most Creative People in Business” and to Business Insider’s 2014 list of the “32 Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising."  Jocelyn received her B.A. in English and Communications from Vanderbilt. Her first hourly job was restaurant hostess.

Matt Hantz
M Booth

Matt is an anomalous agency guy in that he has spent 13 of his 15 years in the industry at the same place. His background is in public relations, but has been running the digital and design departments at M Booth — a team of roughly 20 — for the past two years. In 2010, Matt was on a small team assembled by American Express that came up with and launched Small Business Saturday, the much celebrated initiative designed to get consumers to “shop small” during the holidays. Matt currently works on a number of brands, including Google, Mercedes-Benz and Brooks Running, a Berkshire Hathaway company. Every project and every scope of work is unique, but the common denominator in his work is social media: channel strategies, content creation, measurement and analytics, and paid media.

Albert Lee
OTG Management

Albert Lee is Partner and Chief Technology Officer at OTG. He has over 20 years of leadership experience transforming businesses, and building highly profitable digital enterprises. He has played influential executive roles in a wide variety of industries including publishing, new media, healthcare and hospitality. His advisory work with the founders at start-up savord.com in 2009 led to their series A financing by Hearst Ventures. Albert’s most recent work using iPads to transform the dining experience in airports has received global acclaim, and helped OTG to earn a prestigious placement in Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list.

Phil Stead

Phil is responsible for designing & leading the expansion of Reliant’s solutions for retail, hospitality & c-store merchants. This includes the implementation of secure systems to process payments and meet PCI DSS 3.2 requirements in store systems, enhancement of Reliant’s products and services to meet emerging requirements and direct client engagement. He brings over 18 years of experience in the leadership, development, integration and support for retail solutions. Before joining the Reliant team, Phil served as Director — Store Systems & Implementation for KWI — a SaaS retail technology solution provider — where he led all front-end Point-Of-Sale development and implementation efforts spanning over 125 different global brands.

Guy Rigby
Four Seasons

There are many ways to the heart of Four Seasons clientele, but from Guy Rigby’s perspective, the best is through the palate. As Vice President Food & Beverage, Americas, Rigby has lead a restaurant revolution redefining the way individual properties present food. There is still plenty of room for fine-dining at Four Seasons, he says, but the future is full of possibility: “Our vision is that every restaurant and bar throughout Four Seasons should be relevant, fun, busy, connected with the community, serve great food, and in all cases be profitable"Rigby’s road to corporate headquarters began growing up in England as the son of an accomplished cook and an oenophile. By his own admission not “clever enough” for law school, he excelled at hotel school and saw his hospitality career progress from one F&B position to the next before he became G.M. for Four Seasons in Bangkok. Offered the opportunity to oversee F&B for the Americas, Rigby jumped at the chance. He has been with Four Seasons since 1990, his first assignment was as the Director of Food and Beverage at the Four Seasons, Houston. Over the course of his career at Four Seasons, he has worked globally for them including Vancouver, New York (The Pierre), Bangkok, Toronto, Hong Kong,Tokyo, Houston. With over 40 properties under his watch, Rigby’s plate is now quite full. But his vision remains clear: “Things change so quickly in the dining industry. Whether we’re opening new restaurants or revamping existing ones, the key is creating memorable experiences that bring people back”

Josh Pickard
NoHo Hospitality

Josh Pickard’s 25-year-long career is marked by some of New York City’s most sought-after restaurants and music venues. After graduating with an MBA from the University of Southern California, Pickard opened Time Café & Fez in 1990 – a live music and restaurant venue that transformed downtown Manhattan’s nightlife. With that, Pickard was tapped to operate Joe’s Pub, The Public Theater’s live music and performance venue with dinner and drink service. In 2009, Pickard joined award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini with the opening of Locanda Verde in Robert DeNiro’s TriBeCa hotel, The Greenwich. Two years later, they opened The Dutch in SoHo and an encore of The Dutch in the W South Beach Hotel. 2012 brought the revitalization of The Public Theater and expansion of Joe’s Pub, with the opening of The Library. In 2013, Lafayette, a French grand café and bakery, opened in NoHo. In 2014, the group returned to Italian cooking with Bar Primi, their pasta shop on the Bowery followed by Little Park, a restaurant highlighting sustainable ingredients and Evening Bar, a classic hotel bar, both in TriBeCa. Pickard is also known for his successes with Lever House, Lure Fishbar (SoHo and Miami), Burger & Barrel and El Toro Blanco.

Matt McCue
Freelance Journalist

Matt McCue tells stories. He has written about business and technology for Fast Company and Fortune and managed to eat and drink very well in pursuit of stories for Food & Wine, GQ and Arrive. Whenever possible he likes to combine the two, whether that’s on how start-ups are recasting dining reservations or how a company powered by $50 million in funding is integrating tablets into the restaurant ordering experience. He lives in New York City.

Mike Grillo
American Express

As Vice President and General Manager for Restaurants and Emerging Industries in American Express’s Global Merchant Services team, Michael Grillo works with merchant partners across a variety of industry verticals to define objectives, build partnerships, drive profitable growth, and deliver valued services. He has twenty years experience in strategy, business development, product development, analytics, and marketing on behalf of clients across the travel & entertainment, financial services, and retail industries. Previously, Mike led Amex’s Custom Marketing and Insights organization, which provides bespoke marketing and analytics solutions to Amex’s largest US merchants. Prior to this, Mike held leadership roles at Argus Information and Advisory Services and First Manhattan Consulting Group. Mike earned his B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering at Princeton University.

2015 Summit Videos