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Keynote Session | October 19, 2015 | 12:30 -1:30pm


In this session, you will hear four 15-minute, thought-provoking talks that will leave you challenged and inspired.


Gerry O’Brion | Speaker & Author | What Big Brands Know

After years as an executive with billion dollar restaurant brands, Gerry now uses big company strategies to grow restaurants of all sizes, regardless of their budget. Gerry is the creator of The Restaurant Formula program, a step-by-step process to attract your ideal guests and turn them into vocal advocates of your restaurant. Gerry began his career in marketing at Procter & Gamble and then was an executive for Coors Light, Quiznos, and Red Robin.

John Offerdahl | Owner & Founder | Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill | Former All-Pro Miami Dolphins Linebacker

Former All-Pro Miami Dolphins linebacker and co-founder of Einsteins Brothers’ Bagels, John Offerdahl currently operates 7 quick-casual Grills—Offerdahl’s Café Grill, that feature “fresh-baked, JUST-GRILLED, all-day, great food!” and was named a “Hot Concept” by Nations Restaurant News. Determined to use his past football and present food platforms to impact his community, John launched the annual Gridiron Grill-Off Food & Wine Festival where 25 Miami Dolphin legends team-up with South Florida’s top chefs to vie for fans vote as they eat and drink. All proceeds go to Offerdahl’s Hand-Off Foundation and its mission to “Feed the Needs of Kids in Crisis” who are fatherless and homeless.

Pete Turner | Founder | Illegal Pete’s

Burrito aficionado, record label owner and philanthropist Pete Turner is owner of Colorado’s beloved and countercultural “Mission-style Mexican” restaurants: Illegal Pete’s. Starting in Boulder in 1995, each of seven locations was founded to become one with the community and foster human connection.

Tom Ryan | Co-Founder & Chief Concept Officer | Smashburger

Tom joined Pizza Hut in the late 80s and McDonalds in the late 90s, where he held menu development, CMO, and worldwide chief concept officer titles. Over his seven years at McDonalds, Tom brought McFlurries, The Dollar Menu, and McGriddles to the marketplace. In 2006, Tom and Rick Schaden set out to build new, disruptive concepts focused on the next generation of consumers. In 2007, Smashburger was born and has since become an industry icon for quality, growth, and business acumen. Smashburger has been named twice by Forbes as “Americas Most Promising Company,” has won countless local awards for best burgers, and earned Tom a spot on Gourmet Magazine’s “25 Top Food Entrepreneurs of the Last 25 Years” list.

Dave Brewer | COO, Cooking Solutions | Middleby Corporation (Moderator)

Dave is chief operating officer of the Middleby Corporation Commercial Foodservice Group. While leading sales efforts with Middleby’s top chain customers, Dave also plays a key role in the development of some of the most innovative commercial kitchen innovations on the market today. Dave has more than 25 years of senior executive experience in food service, including expertise in engineering, industry trends, operations, sales and technology execution. Prior to joining Middleby in 2007, he was with Yum! Brands and Chiquita Corp. He has a deep knowledge of both domestic and international business with experience in China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Central and South America.

Sponsored by The Middleby Corporation