Featured Speakers 2017

Justin Dragoo

Justin Dragoo

Partner/COO Latitude 38 Entertainment

Justin Dragoo is Partner/COO of Latitude 38 Entertainment, producer of BottleRock, Napa Valley.

In 2013, Justin and partners, Dave Graham and Jason Scoggins formed Latitude 38 Entertainment and acquired the BottleRock brand.  Since becoming owners and producers of BottleRock Napa Valley, the festival has gained both national and international acclaim.

Justin is also President and General Manager of Gargiulo Vineyards in Napa Valley and a Level II Certified Sommelier.  Before that he was VP/Global Technology Services at IBM for 11 years and was responsible for technology outsourcing services in the consumer products industry.  He carried P&L responsibility for generating $500 million in revenue.  Justin has an MBA from Arizona State University School of Business.

Christopher Kostow

Christopher Kostow

Executive Chef, The Restaurant at Meadowood

Christopher Kostow is the local celebrity chef of The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena and the second American-born chef and third youngest chef ever to receive three Michelin stars.

A Michelin-starred chef before the age of 30, Christopher Kostow takes a thoughtful approach to food drawing upon his own American upbringing and the bounty of the surrounding valley, creating a transcendent experience for diners at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

Christopher, a Chicago native, trained in kitchens far and wide: from a Paris bistro to the Michelin-starred Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier. Upon returning to the States, Christopher worked as sous chef under Daniel Humm in San Francisco. He soon became Chef at Chez TJ in Mountain View, Calif., garnering the restaurant many accolades including two Michelin stars.

Upon arriving at Meadowood in 2008, Christopher maintained two Michelin Stars, was nominated for Best Chef: Pacific by the James Beard Foundation and named as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs 2009. In 2010, Christopher garnered a rare four stars in the San Francisco Chronicle and was soon awarded the highest ranking of three Michelin Stars from the esteemed 2011 Guide.

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Christopher and The Restaurant team have since retained the three stars from Michelin in the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 editions of the San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Restaurants Guide; as well as the four stars in San Francisco Chronicle. In 2013, Christopher was awarded Best Chef: West by the James Beard Foundation.

Ten Speed Press published Christopher’s debut book, A New Napa Cuisine, in October of 2014. In March of 2015, his work was awarded “Book of the Year” by the International Association of culinary professionals (IACP).

Christopher will open a new casual restaurant, The Charter Oak, in the Napa Valley slated to debut in spring 2017.

Ryan Harris

Ryan Harris

Co-Owner - Contimo Provisions

Inspired by the constant cooking of his mother and grandmother Ryan has always been around good food.  Ryan left graduate school to pursue his passion for cooking and fell into work at a number of incredible kitchens.  Working with greats like Christopher Kostow at The Restaurant at Meadowood and the Strategic Hospitality Restaurant Group in Nashville he learned detail, discipline, and quality sourcing from numerous perspectives.

Ryan was honored as one of Zagat’s 30 under 30 in 2013 while managing Fatted Calf Charcuterie. After staging and working in Nashville, New York, and the Bay Area, Ryan made Napa home and opened Contimo Provisions in 2015.  He and his business partner Kevin Folan dedicate time every year to further investigating their sourcing.  Be it spending time on the Clemson Organic Research Farm in Charleston S.C., or growing wheat with farmer’s at U.C. Davis they are always looking to learn more about the ingredients they work with.

Brian Whitmer

Brian Whitmer

Executive Chef, Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa

Brian Whitmer has an impressive culinary background from Kansas City to New York City, to Carmel, California. The widely renowned Napa Valley chef incorporates local and seasonal ingredients to create simple, delicious dishes that blend his passion for gardening with his highly celebrated gourmet restaurant experiences.

Whitmer spent six years as Executive Chef at the Highland Inn in beautiful Carmel, where he oversaw culinary operations for the prestigious Masters of Food & Wine. After Carmel, Whitmer demonstrated his superior culinary expertise at Montrio in Monterey, which resulted in a nod for “Best Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire food aficionado John Mariani.

Andreas Mueller-Schubert

Andreas Mueller-Schubert

Digital Marketing Consultant - WSI Next Gen Marketing

Andreas is passionate about emerging internet-driven business model innovations and the new opportunities these offer businesses every day.  He is a certified Digital Marketing Consultant of WSI (We Simplify the Internet) a leader in the digital marketing industry for nearly 20 years with the largest global network of over 1,500 digital marketing experts.

Chef Barbara Alexander

Chef Barbara Alexander

Executive Chef, Napa Valley Cooking School

As the Executive Chef of the Napa Valley Cooking School at Napa Valley College, Chef Alexander comes from a long line of pedigree restaurants, hotels, and cooking schools. Beginning with a classical 3-year apprenticeship at the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, she went on to 15 years of Executive Chef positions at acclaimed restaurants in Vancouver, British Columbia, London, England, and Sydney, Australia before embarking upon a career in Culinary Education which took her back to her native Canada, then to the Napa Valley.

She has held the esteemed position of Senior Chef Instructor at Dubrulle International Culinary and Hotel Institute of Canada, and The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone before becoming Director of Culinary Programs and Executive Chef here at NVCS. Chef Barbara is a Certified Executive Chef with American Culinary Federation, and holds a Certified Hospitality Educator degree. Well rooted in classical culinary education, Chef Barbara works hard to instill the importance of technique and craft on her students while empowering them with passion, inspiration and commitment.

Panelists - Trends in Marketing Technology

Panelists - Trends in Marketing Technology

  • Louis Calli is partner in Echo DTC, a customer engagement consulting firm focused on conversion driven e-commerce, integrated with social campaigns and data.
  • Paul Mabray is Vice President of AveroBuzz, a firm offering social media/reputation management to power data-driven engagement, social CRM and business intelligence for the hospitality industry.
  • Kristy Sammis is founder and Chief Innovation Officer of CLEVER, an award-winning, multimillion-dollar influencer marketing agency where authenticity rules and “users” are actually human beings.  Kristy bootstrapped her start-up to a thriving agency and great stories always win the day!

Panel Moderator: Claudette Shatto. Claudette graduated with a BA in Communication from Sacramento State University and worked in the corporate communications field at AT&T. Then, after attaining two further degrees – an Associate of Science in Wine Sales and Marketing and a Master of Business Administration, Claudette held the position of Vice President of Marketing at V. Sattui Winery for over a decade. Professor Shatto is now an Instructor of Business at Napa Valley College, where she mentors and inspires entrepreneurs and students.

Panelists - Why Should I Care About Food Safety?

Panelists - Why Should I Care About Food Safety?

  • Oscar Camacho With over 30 years of hands-on experience in the food industry, including ownership of two food processing plants and extensive work with two of the largest food manufacturers in the world, Oscar’s inspiring, first-person accounts of food safety successes and failures put accountability into sharp focus for his clients and their employees. View also the HACCP training by Oscar.
  • Louise Dawson has been active in the restaurant industry for over 30 years. She grew up in a family of restaurant owners and vintners and was the owner and operator of two successful restaurants and a large catering company that specialized in the movie industry. She supported over 500 restaurant, bar and nightclub owners bringing real world experience to provide guidance with business strategies and training, business plans and financials, restaurant openings, food costing, service training and exit strategies.
  • Larry Kamer  is a veteran public affairs strategist, and an expert in managing difficult, public-facing challenges that impact the future of reputations, brands and careers. His skills are a result of more than 30 years of experience as a communications consultant, an executive in international marketing and communications firms, a political advisor and an entrepreneur. Larry specializes in the development of scenario and readiness plans, real-time crisis and media management, and the implementation of post-crisis improvements.