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Speaker Bios & Photos

Photo credit: Yukiko Onley

John Bishop

John Bishop's love for cooking began when he was a child growing up in Newton Powys, Wales. Starting out by helping in his mother's kitchen to eventually, as a young man, learning the formal requirements of traditional French food preparation at a hotel school.

After working as a chef in Great Britain, John moved to Vancouver in 1973. Shortly after arriving he began his career in Vancouver with local restaurateur Umberto Menghi - first as head chef then eventually becoming Maitre d’. At the urging of friends and investors during the recession of 1985, John opened Bishop's.

His West Side restaurant, Bishop’s, blends classic and modern flavours with a casual elegance. He has created an exceptional local dining experience that continues to garner top grades locally as well as from all the respected North American and International guides.

Robert Carter

Robert Carter is a dynamic speaker with a passion for tracking trends and consumer behavior in the foodservice industry. A foodservice veteran of 20 years, Robert is an industry opinion leader frequently quoted in major newspapers and magazines.

As an Executive Director with The NPD Group, Robert provides key insights and strategy on consumer behaviour in the foodservice market, guiding Canadian, U.S. and global foodservice manufacturers and operator business decisions. During his six years at NPD, Robert has achieved NPD’s Client Satisfaction Hall of Fame.

Not shy of controversy and demonstrating his strong advocacy for the Canadian foodservice industry, a question he put to former U.S. President George Bush at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago made headlines and was broadcast on CNN.

When not monitoring consumer behaviour, he has become a dedicated foodie, sampling the delights of new restaurants performing what he calls “market research with a sample of one.”

David Childs

David’s talent for bringing intangible qualities to life is the cornerstone of Living Blueprint’s distinctive style of strategic branding. Channelling right-brain creativity through a systematic left-brain approach and putting everything through the filter of Undeniable Honesty, David guides the LBP team as they identify, internalize, and articulate each client’s true value to develop a strategic brand that is positioned to establish a strong presence in society.

David has a history of creative projects. David appeared on The Big Breakfast with Dawn Chubai in 2000, He was the recipient of an “Excellence in New Media and Internet Technology” award from the Computer Master Institute of New Media and Technology and animated a short film, “The Home”, that was screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival (2003), Tribeca Film Festival in New York City (2004), and ANIME in Brussels, Belgium (2004). As marketing manager at Terra Remote Sensing in Victoria, David explored the impact of design and animation in a corporate setting. His interest in business and communication led to the founding of the REACH event series, which unites like-minded members of Vancouver’s business community.

In 2004, David started Living Blueprint, a strategic branding and communication agency. By merging aesthetics with a systematic approach based on strong business acumen, LBP has guided companies including Pacific Coastal Airlines, Syntaris Power Corp., and Lift Bar and Grill through the process of discovering their core value and articulating it in a way that forges an emotional attachment with their target audience.

When not bringing brands to life, David writes for ‘Business in Vancouver‘ and may be found speaking at business events, conferences, and colleges.  The latest creative project is the Leotartist – this is David’s version of a power point.

Chuck Currie

Chuck attended George Brown College’s culinary school in Toronto, and earned the highest marks awarded in the history of the college, meanwhile working as a Regional Chef for Controlled Foods International, a company that owned and operated over 100 restaurants.

He was appointed executive chef of Controlled Foods in 1982, and opened the first Earl’s Restaurant within that company later the same year. He was named Concept Leader for Earls in 1998 and remained in that position until 2002, when he retired from a job that had become largely administrative. He was then recruited by White Spot as their executive chef to help with their transformation into casual dining.

Chuck is a Canadian Certified Chef de Cuisine and a member of the Research Chef’s Association, the Canadian Culinary Federation, and the Canadian Federation of Chefs de Cuisine. Chuck was a member of the British Columbia Trade Advisory Committee for Cooks from 1992 to 1996. During that time he led the subcommittee that made the BC Trade Advisory Committee the only advisory board in Canada ever to set the exams for trades’ qualification. He wrote human resource and cooking material for the Provincial Learning Guides, and proofed all cooking curriculum. He led the subcommittee that developed criteria for approving institutes for Professional Cook Training and inspected most of the applicants.

He is the only chef to ever receive the British Columbia Provincial Apprenticeship Award and the British Columbia Foodsafe Award. He has been a guest lecturer at the culinary departments of Malespina College, Vancouver Community College, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and the International Cuisine School at Suan Dusit University, Bangkok, Thailand. He has addressed the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association at the National Restaurant Association convention in Chicago regarding custom kitchen equipment design, layout and servicing; and chaired the foodservice segment of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s national conference. He serves on the advisory board of Vancouver Community College’s School of Hospitality.

Chuck’s training methods and apprentices were the subject of a Master of Arts (Education) thesis. In the author’s words, “Chuck Currie’s programs are so modern and effective that other apprenticeship and training systems appear to be something reenacted for the benefit of tourists in an historical amusement park.” Graduates of this program now run every full service restaurant chain in Western Canada.

Chef Rob Feenie

The driving culinary force behind Cactus Restaurants Ltd., the award-winning collection of 22 casual fine dining restaurants in BC and Alberta, Rob Feenie is also one of Canada’s most recognized and celebrated chefs.

At Cactus Restaurants, Chef Feenie leads the culinary team, blending his talent for creating elegant, globally inspired cuisine with his passion for simple dishes using fresh, local and ingredients.  Already an award winning collection of restaurants, Chef Feenie’s innovative approach to cooking has continued to drive the evolution of Cactus’ menu selections and its commitment to sourcing the best fresh, local and sustainable products wherever possible. 

Growing up in Burnaby, BC, Chef Feenie first developed a curiosity for international cuisine over countless traditional family dinners at his Japanese neighbours’ home. This early experience was followed by a high school exchange program where he was first introduced to European chefs and techniques.  At 20, Chef Feenie attended the Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver and upon graduating, became a Sous-chef in some of Western Canada’s top restaurants, notably Le Crocodile, Cherry Stone Cove in Vancouver, and The Rim Rock Café in Whistler.

While at Le Crocodile he began a series of work and educational trips, or stages, throughout Europe and North America, starting in Alsace with Chef Emile Jung at Au Crocodile and Chef Antoine Westermann at Le Buerehiesel, both Michelin three-star rated restaurants. In North America he worked with Chef Charlie Trotter, at Trotter's Restaurant in Chicago, and Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Jean-Georges in New York.

In 1995 Chef Feenie opened the internationally celebrated Lumière Restaurant in Vancouver, followed by Lumière Tasting Bar and then Feenie's, a more casual Canadian Bistro, next door to Lumière, in 2003.  Throughout his career, Chef Feenie has secured international culinary recognition, including: the coveted Relais Gourmand and Traditions et Qualitè designations, in addition to the Mobil Travel Guide four-stars designation and the AAA Five Diamond Award.  In 2009 and 2011, Chef Feenie won the Vancouver Gold Medal Plates competition, and won silver at the national level in 2011.

Chef Feenie has published three cookbooks: Rob Feenie Cooks at Lumière, Lumière Light, and Feenie’s and will be publishing a fourth cookbook in late 2012.  He also starred on New Classics with Chef Rob Feenie on Food Network Canada for five seasons.  In 2005 Feenie became the first Canadian to win on the popular television show Iron Chef America by defeating Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Jeff Howard

Jeff Howard is the National Quality Assurance Manager for the GFS Canada Company. He has over 25 years of Quality Assurance management experience at Gordon Food Service developing, implementing and advancing quality, food safety and regulatory compliance programs. He has developed thousands of specifications for GFS Brand products and over 100 Standard Operating Procedures related to food quality, safety, and security. He has also developed HACCP programs for GFS distribution centers and supports their compliance with internal, regulatory and third party audit requirements. He served for many years as GFS’ U.S. National Recall Coordinator and recently implemented a robust and comprehensive recall program for GFS Canada’s divisions.


Theresa Iuliano

Theresa has spent the past 22 years working in various science, policy and regulatory capacities for the Government of Canada. A graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa with a degree in Biology and Biotechnology, she began her career with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada as an analytical chemist - focusing on the detection of antibiotic and pesticide residues in food. She also specialized in the area of food adulteration and economic fraud. In 1997 she joined the newly created Canadian Food Inspection Agency and has since occupied a range of senior level positions in the areas of science, programs and strategic policy. She is currently serving as the Executive Director, Strategic Policy and International Affairs for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.


Elizabeth da Mata

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I moved to Vancouver in 1992. At that time, I worked at a number of fine restaurants and eventually moved in to a General Manager position and stayed there for 7 years. In 1999, I decided it was time to open up my own place. As my family background is one of food service and hospitality, one could say I have it in me to be in this business! In Spring 1999, with a business partner, I opened up my first restaurant. The Reef a Caribbean restaurant, opened to critical and local acclaim and has been going strong ever since. This restaurant located on Main St in Vancouver was the first but certainly not the last. 3 years later, in 2003, a second Reef restaurant opened in Victoria (where I now call home). 2008 our third location opened in Vancouver on Commercial Drive. It has often been a challenging career but always personally rewarding. I truly enjoy this industry, its people, and the positive impact we are able to make to the communities we live and work in.

Eric Pateman

Eric Pateman has grown his company from a tiny one-man culinary concierge service into one of the leading ambassadors of Canadian cuisine. Beginning simply as Edible Vancouver in the spring of 2005, Eric widened his scope beyond city limits with a culinary artisan retail store and expansion to Edible British Columbia. In 2010, only 5 short years after the company was founded, EBC took another big leap and became Edible Canada. Eric's vision to introduce the public to the very best Canadian culinary artisans was realized.

A Vancouver native with a lifelong passion for food and wine, Eric has worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years both as a chef and hotel consultant and has rated restaurants for the Mobil Travel Guide. Eric's own culinary travels have taken him throughout North America, to the UK and to Africa where he has sought out unique culinary experiences. Edible Canada is the product of Eric's fervor for great food and wine, his extensive knowledge of the hospitality industry and an enthusiasm for exceeding expectations when it comes to customer service. Eric was named as one of Business in Vancouver's Top 40 Under 40 Business People in 2007, and to Western Living Magazine's list of the Top 40 Foodies Under 40 in Western Canada in 2008.

When Eric isn't leading the team to a new taste, he's home in Squamish with his favourite leading ladies — his wife and 3 young daughters.

Chris Whittaker

From a young age, Chris Whittaker was introduced to local food by his grandparents when he was taught to respect how we catch, conserve and grow our food. Home was Thunder Bay, Ontario where trucks, a case of beer and baseball caps were rights of passage. The result? A gut level understanding of sustainability and a low tolerance for pretense.

Since coming to The Listel Hotel in 2007, Chris has garnered praise for his playful yet sophisticated cooking style and his passion for local products and ethically sound ingredients. He has been the driving force behind the restaurant’s participation in the Ocean Wise program and the Green Table Network resulting in O’Doul’s receiving the inaugural Green Table and third annual Sustainable Seafood Where to Dine Award in 2008. He is an active board member of the prestigious Chef’s Table Society of BC.

And now there is forage. Chris has been a driving force behind the philosophy of forage. Teaming up with Green Table Network, BC Hydro, LiveSmart BC, forage is a showcase project on how to achieve financial savings through high efficiency, leading edge technology. Reducing energy and water consumption by 30% in both the kitchen and front of house, and maintaining Chris’ own food viewpoint of local and sustainable, forage is a dream come true for this highly motivated chef.

At his home in Maple Ridge, Chris is absorbed in keeping his compost pile cooking, his mason bees pollinating and getting up to speed on BC’s fish and wildlife regulations.

Vikram Vij

Vikram Vij was born in India 1964 and lived in New Delhi and Bombay until the age of 20, when he went to study, live and work in Austria. While he was there he received his chef certificate from the Salzburg Hotel Management School. Vikram moved to Canada in 1989 to work at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. 

It was five years later, in September 1994, when Vikram opened Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver, BC.  In early 1995, his wife, Meeru Dhalwala, joined him and the two began collaborating on the menu.  Vikram became a certified sommelier from the International Sommelier Guild in 2000, and is passionate about pairing wines with his cuisine. 

In 2004, Vikram and Meeru opened up a second restaurant and market called Vij’s Rangoli. The market sells Vij’s Inspired Indian Cuisine, a line of prepackaged gourmet curries, which are based on popular recipes from Vij’s Restaurant. In order to keep up with the growing demand for the packaged meals in BC, and to expand the availability of the products across Canada, a purpose-built food production facility in Surrey, BC, was constructed in early 2011.

Vikram is past president and active member of the Chef’s Table Society of British Columbia, which is dedicated to supporting innovative and sustainable food programs involving chefs, producers and others working in the local food industry.  With the help of many members of the Chef’s Table Society, Vikram and fellow BC chef Robert Clark spearheaded the 2nd Canadian Chefs’ Congress on Vancouver Island, BC. The 2010 focus was “Oceans for Tomorrow”. Additionally, Vikram has been involved with Farm Folk City Folk Organization, Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood, UBC Farm fundraisers and the Green Table Society. His work as president of the Cambie Village Business Association and contributing chef to the Vancouver Food Vendor Pilot Project has helped support the growth of local business in Vancouver. Vikram is a passionate supporter of the arts in the Indo-Canadian community, and lends his support to related events and organizations such the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society.

Vikram was a guest judge on Top Chef Canada in 2011, and has been invited back for the 2012 season. In June 2011, the BC Food Processors Association honoured Vikram with the Rising Star Award. In October 2011, he was awarded The Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Pacific Region’s Hospitality and Tourism category. Along with Meeru, Vikram has penned two 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.

Mark Williams

Mark is a Chartered Accountant and has worked at the BC Ministry of Finance for over 10 years dealing with PST.  



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