Eventcamp 2018 SPEAKERS
CEO of Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse Restaurants
Steve DiFillippo is the consummate restaurateur. With his award-winning Davio’s brand firmly established in Boston, Foxbrorough, Chestnut Hill, Lynnfield, Braintree, Atlanta, Manhattan, Philadelphia, and King of Prussia, DiFillippo has tackled the modern Italian restaurant. DiFillippo’s reach continues to expand as his locations continue to garner critical acclaim and destination status.
DiFillippo published his first book titled “It’s All About the Guest: Exceeding Expectations in Business and in Life, the Davio’s Way” in the Fall of 2013. The memoir and hospitality book features business advice for aspiring restaurateurs and chefs as well as twelve signature Davio’s recipes including Julia Child’s favorite Angel Hair Pomodoro.
DiFillippo is actively involved in many groups and boards including: The Taste of the NFL, The Greater Boston Food Bank, Best Buddies, Rodman Ride for Kids; BUILD Inc. and The Boston Dining Alliance. In the fall of 2008, DiFillippo was inducted into the Massachusetts Restaurant Hall of Fame and in 2014 he was awarded Restaurateur of the Year. In 2016, Best Buddies Massachusetts recognized Davio’s as Employer of the Year for the Best Buddies Jobs Program. DiFillippo is a contributing Vice Chair of the Board of Overseers of the Anti-Defamation League, New England Region and as a member of the Board of Governors, he has co-chaired the annual Working Wonders Gala & Fundraiser for Tufts Medical Center.
Director of Sales and Marketing, Columbus Hospitality Group
Lisa Flores has been an integral part of the success of the Columbus Hospitality Group for over 17 years. A Texas native, Lisa moved to Boston to attend Boston University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a concentration in International Management. She was hired as a hostess at Mistral in June 2001, and was soon promoted to Reservations Manager in 2003 after impressing General Manager Mark D’Alessandro and Chef/Owner Jamie Mammano with her dedication to hospitality.
In 2004, Lisa was promoted again to Special Events Manager for Mistral’s private dining room, le Salon du Mistral. As Events Manager, she planned and executed all private events as well as full restaurant buyouts. Her commitment to consistency and her ability to make guests feel at home has enabled her to produce successful events for Mistral’s clientele for many years. In 2008, Lisa was promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing, and spearheaded marketing campaigns for the opening of all additional properties in the Columbus Hospitality Group. Today, this includes Mistral, Teatro, Sorellina, Mooo, L’Andana, and Ostra restaurants, as well as the Inn at St. Botolph and XV Beacon Hotel. She continues to plan private events and restaurant buyouts for Mistral, Ostra, Teatro, and Sorellina while managing all marketing campaigns, media relations, and branding for CHG.
Recognizing the need for a more formal network for event planners within the restaurant industry, Lisa founded the Society for Event Planners: Restaurant Venues (SERV) in 2016. SERV is an organization of private event managers that hosts quarterly panel discussions focusing on topics such as the value of private events in the restaurant’s bottom line, hospitality marketing, public relations and more. It quickly caught the attention of dozens of top restaurateurs and planners in the area, as well as publications such as The Boston Globe and Boston Common Magazine. The success of SERV in Boston led Lisa to found a second chapter in New York City in 2017. SERV aims to provide a network for people in the industry to learn from each other and enhance their businesses, and Lisa plans to grow the organization to additional cities in the years to come.
Partner, Corinthian Events
With over 25 years in the hospitality industry, Courtney Church has a depth of knowledge in most facets of the industry like no other. Courtney started her career as a travel agent where she handled many of Boston’s top firms’ corporate travel. She then ventured out on her own as the Northeast sales and marketing rep for six boutique Bermuda and Caribbean hotels (her family lives in Bermuda). While she enjoyed sales, she quickly realized that she didn’t like being on the road for long periods of time so decided to refine her passion for wine and worked for a local wine distributor selling wine to wine shops and Boston restaurants.
After having her first child, she landed a job at a local DMC and events company where she worked for 3 years and discovered her true passion. Then in 2000, she and her two pals, Jill Tate and Mary Douglas, founded Corinthian Events. Courtney’s specific areas of expertise are food and beverage and menu selection, complex production and show calling, the minute details that come with every event and overall logistics. When she has time to get away, Courtney is happiest jetting off to the Caribbean or Bermuda to kick back in the sun.
Jeanette R. Patenaude
Events Specialist, Ropes & Gray
Jeanette began her career at Partners HealthCare in Boston, assisting in the planning of employee recognition events for their corporate office and hospitals. In her 5+ years of experience there, she gained the extensive knowledge she needed to grow in the industry. While at Partners, she also took on a role with Swank Events as a Wedding Coordinator. Now as an Events Specialist for Ropes & Gray, Jeanette has the reins in planning and executing high-level client and internal events for several practice groups at the firm.
Jeanette holds a BS in Hospitality & Tourism Management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Isenberg School of Management.
Senior Planner, Global Meetings & Events, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Jessica began her career in Boston with COJE Restaurant Group and Columbus Hospitality Group, gaining unparalleled experience in building and serving client relationships, while establishing herself as a respected service oriented individual. As a Senior Planner on the Global Meetings & Events Team at Vertex, Jessica is widely known for developing solutions for the unknown, creative planning of logistics, innovative management of "all the moving parts," and collaborating with the best partners and vendors around the world to deliver paramount results. Jessica was in accounting prior to working in the hospitality industry. She admits that event planning is way more fun.
Executive Vice President of Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group
As EVP of Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, 25-year veteran Charlee Williamson oversees a diverse portfolio of seven independent restaurants and a catering company, which span the spectrum of industry segments from fine dining to counter service. As the company’s chief marketing officer, she guides a talented in-house team responsible for advertising, graphics, digital media, publicity, and community partnerships. A self-described “Marketing Technologist,” Charlee is also responsible for digital solutions that drive revenue, engagement, and operational efficiencies. She analyzes company data and finds actionable opportunities to improve each restaurant’s financial position and conceptual offerings. Her role includes executive and operational oversight of the 450-seat Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen at the Disneyland® Resort in southern California, and she co-manages each private event sales team.
Owner of WISE UP EVENTS and Co-Owner/Executive Director of the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival
Nancy is a passionate event producer with 20+ years of experience in high-profile event development, marketing and production. She has a strong background in strategic partnerships, sponsorship development, event launches and media relations. Based in Boston, Nancy’s team at WISE UP EVENTS includes a small (but potent!) staff of Event Producers, a Culinary Director, a Wine Director, and Production Coordinators who produce two annual food and wine festivals each year, as well as a selection of other culinary-focused events. Productions include the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival in May, Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival in September, and the James Beard Foundation Taste America Boston event each fall. Nancy also develops sponsorship programs for a variety of clients and consults on event and sponsorship development.
Vice President, Culinary Arts and Development, Longwood Venues + Destinations
Growing up in Portland, ME, carrots were king and a minor obsession with carrot cake began. As a boy, it was not unusual for David to feign illness, skip school and bake the day away. Life revolved around food, the gardens it came from and the shared act of cooking for the family. Both of David’s grandmothers were exceptional cooks; one a true Maine Downeaster and the other from Abruzzi, Italy. They taught him to respect the land and appreciate its abundance, and that the communal sharing of food is the quintessential and most powerful way to bring people together.
Before launching his career, David worked in many capacities in his father’s restaurants. His professional career in Boston began 30 years ago. He spent 13 years with the Four Seasons Hotel company in Boston and San Francisco - both 5 Star, 5 Diamond Hotels - and held positions as Executive Chef, Executive Sous Chef, and Chef de Cuisine of the nationally acclaimed AAA, 5 Diamond restaurant, Aujourd’hui. He then moved to California as part of the leadership opening team of the highly anticipated Four Seasons on Market Street (2001-2003) where he worked alongside renowned chefs, restaurateurs, and hoteliers. He was immersed in the California food culture that focuses on fresh, ingredient-driven, local and seasonal products, and it is a major influence in his cooking style today.
In 2006 David partnered with Columbus Restaurant Group, working with longtime mentor and restaurateur, Jamie Mammano at Sorellina, and Mistral, and as Executive Chef opening L’Andana Grill in Burlington, MA. David then switched gears and spent two years with Whole Foods Market as a Regional Prepared Foods Coordinator helping direct the Prepared Foods Program for 27 Whole Foods Market locations in four New England States. It is here that he acquired a heightened appreciation for sustainability and product integrity.
David joined Longwood Venues + Destinations in 2010, bringing with him not just experience and his ensuing passion but also a unique perspective on private event dining. It is both a daunting task and extraordinary feat to provide every diner a singular and incredible food experience when feeding hundreds of guests. David created and oversees the culinary program for Longwood’s five properties in Boston, Brookline, Cape Cod, and Newport, RI. His cooking style retains his focus on pristine and seasonal ingredients highlighting the local bounty of New England, while bringing the same personal connection to the food he had as a child to his communal table today.
Chef/Owner of Catalyst Restaurant and Catalyst Cafe in Cambridge, MA
William Kovel opened Catalyst Restaurant in 2011 with the goal of creating a restaurant that is about what the guest wants, an approach shaped by his experience working for master chefs, a Michelin-star restaurant, and a five-star hotel. Catalyst Cafe follows in its sister restaurant’s footsteps, offering excellent cuisine and service in a European cafe atmosphere.
Chef Kovel marks his growth as a chef and restaurateur through his time at Jardinière under Chef Traci Des Jardins in San Francisco; running the kitchen as Michael Schlow’s sous chef at Radius in Boston; in London as Chef de Partie at Orrery; and as Chef de Cuisine of Aujourd-hui at Four Seasons Hotel Boston. The resulting culinary style focuses on a commitment to the freshest local ingredients, an unforgiving level of attention to proper French technique and a hotelier’s approach when it comes to guest satisfaction.
During his tenure at the Four Seasons, Kovel was recognized by Boston Magazine as one of a talented group of "Boston’s Best Young Chefs;" was honored by Chaine des Rotisseurs, and achieved the AAA Five Diamond Award.
Since opening Catalyst, Kovel studied and passed the first two levels of the Court of Master Sommelier exams, making him the only Boston area chef with a sommelier designation.
Partner and Executive Chef, Row 34
Jeremy Sewall may have been born in upstate New York, but he’s had the heart of a true New Englander since childhood summers spent in Maine with his family, feasting on lobsters, clams and other New England specialties. The water, too, plays a large role in his lineage; fishing has been a Sewall family livelihood for generations. Today, Jeremy sources his fresh lobsters from cousin Mark Sewall, who captains his 38-foot boat out of York Harbor, Maine. Regardless of his original zip code, few embody New England more than Jeremy.
He began his professional career in Maine at the Relais & Chateau White Barn Inn. Wanting to spread his wings, he moved to Europe, working for Albert Roux in London and Amsterdam before returning to Boston and a position at L’Espalier. From there, Jeremy moved to San Francisco, where he was immediately recognized for his flawless technique and passion for seafood the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, California. In 2000, as Executive Chef of Lark Creek Inn, Jeremy was one of five chefs in the country nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation. He moved back to the Northeast in 2003 as opening Executive Chef at Great Bay restaurant (present-day Island Creek Oyster Bar), where he garnered accolades from The New York Times, Esquire and Gourmet, among others.
Jeremy left Great Bay to follow his dream of opening his own restaurant. In February 2006, Jeremy and his wife Lisa, a former pastry chef at L’Espalier, opened Lineage. Their appreciation for fresh ingredients and Jeremy’s authentic approach to modern American cuisine evolved into the present day market-driven menu. The restaurant has been recognized by many publications over the years including Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Boston Magazine and most recently when Devra First re-reviewed the restaurant for The Boston Globe in 2013 and awarded it three stars.
In 2009, Jeremy’s friendship with Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks owner Garrett Harker led to a stint as Collaborating Chef of the heralded Kenmore Square hot spot. In 2010, they teamed up with Skip Bennett, the founder of Island Creek Oysters, to bring the Island Creek Oyster Bar to the city of Boston. In the fall of 2013, the trio opened their second restaurant, Row 34, an approachable and convivial neighborhood-focused restaurant and bar continues the team’s mission of celebrating New England’s rich seafood traditions and the farmers, fishermen, and lobstermen who inspire them. In 2015, the Row 34 team opened a second location at 5 Portwalk Place in Portsmouth, NH, just a few blocks from the bustling waterfront. In the fall of 2014, Jeremy released his first cookbook, James Beard Award-nominated The New England Kitchen: Fresh Takes on Seasonal Recipes, with co-author Erin Byers Murray. In 2016, Jeremy co-authored a second book, Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw, with Marion Swaybill; the book presents a wide-ranging visual exploration of the iconic shellfish, including stunning portraits of more than fifty oyster varietals. Also in 2016, Jeremy and his partners opened a second Island Creek Oyster Bar in Burlington, MA. A new restaurant concept in Harvard Square called Les Sablons, opened in 2017.
Content Marketing Manager at Tripleseat
Azure Collier is the Content Marketing manager for Tripleseat, where she manages the blog, social media, and email content for the company. She was previously the Social Media Marketing and Community Manager for email marketing company Constant Contact. She also worked in marketing for higher education at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Fitchburg State University. She started her career as a print journalist in the Midwest at the Times of Northwest Indiana in Valparaiso, IN, and at the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, IN. Azure has spoken at Social Media Marketing World, and has been a podcast and livestream guest on the Superheroes of Marketing Podcast, the Twitter Smarter tweet chat and livestream, Post Planner's livestream, the Social Eyes podcast, the Simple Pin Podcast, the Pinterest to Profits Podcast, and The The Manly Pinterest Tips Show. She received a BA in communications and journalism from Purdue University, and an MS in applied communication from Fitchburg State University, where she completed thesis research on social media and young adults.
Founder of L2L Creative Group
Lindsay Joy Higgins is a former Marketing Advisor at Constant Contact – the leader in email marketing, and the owner of Boston based marketing agency, L2L Creative Group. Lindsay specializes in social media management and email marketing services for small to medium sized businesses across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom.
Founder of JO Social Branding
Jeannine O’Neil, Owner of JO Social Branding, is an award-winning email marketing expert who works with professionals and organizations on how to socialize their brands using social media and email marketing. Through JO Social Branding, Jeannine has positioned herself as a thought leader in the industry with her online marketing blog and bi-weekly newsletter titled, “Social Eyes." She also speaks to businesses and organizations about email marketing best practices.
Founder of East Boston Oysters
Alexis Cervasio is the founder of East Boston Oysters, the Improper Bostonian's Best Pop-Up, which brings oyster farmers, highly creative chefs, cocktail magicians, wine geeks, passionate brewers, artists and hospitality professionals into East Boston to create a unique dining experience. The popup takes place in secret locations in East Boston - on boats, in restaurants, on roof tops, raw spaces, closed venues...nothing is off limits. Before starting East Boston Oysters, Alexis worked in the hospitality industry, most recently as a floor manager at Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar.
Noted Wine Educator
Philippe Newlin is a long-time wine educator with wine-course teaching responsibilities at Columbia Business School, Yale’s School of Management, The Wharton School, and HBS. Philippe started in the wine trade as the Tasting Director of Wine & Spirits Magazine before moving into wine importing.