We believe in pride in place. As experts in food tourism development, the Culinary Tourism Alliance seeks to ensure that authentic food experiences become a significant economic driver for communities across Ontario, and a primary way for travelers to enrich their experience.
Rebecca Mackenzie, President & CEO
Rebecca loves Canada and local edibles and that her career enables her to explore Canada and the globe, connecting people across the agriculture and tourism industries to grow “taste of place”.
Passionate about the interrelation between food, agriculture, tourism, arts and culture, Rebecca has been instrumental in developing tourism products including Prince Edward County’s award winning Taste Trail and the CTA’s Feast On program.
Rebecca contributes her expertise to a variety of industry Boards including the Terroir Hospitality Symposium, the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation and the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Gastronomic Tourism Network.
Born and raised in Toronto, Rebecca spent her summers in rural Ontario. In her grade 12 year of high school, Rebecca sailed on a 156-foot tall ship to 20 countries in Europe and Africa – an experience that rooted her passion for travel and adventure! She still splits her time between Toronto and Prince Edward County, and practices her craft for food tourism with her own experience – the Terroir Run.
Agatha Podgorski, Community Manager
Agatha believes in local food, responsible purchasing practices and the health benefits of a glass of good pinot. She once considered law school, but after completing a degree at the University of Toronto, she realized she would much rather eat than be eaten.
She got a diploma in Culinary Management from George Brown College after which she spent time in Toronto kitchens. She’s since traded in her spoons to spread the word about Ontario’s amazing food experiences and help develop our province’s rich and varied food culture. In 2011, she was recognized by the OHI as one of Ontario’s Top 30 Under 30 in the hospitality industry.
Agatha has had many roles since joining the CTA in 2010, but can now be found rubbin’ elbows with members, managing communications and coordinating delicious events across Ontario. She is our brand manager, social media maven and content curator. She was instrumental in developing the Experience Assessment Tool (EAT™) and Ontario’s foodservice designation program, Feast On. She has contributed to numerous food publications including The Huffington Post, The Globe & Mail, Westjet Magazine and The Toronto Star. She was also the managing editor of The Ontario Culinary Adventure Guide and is currently the Creative & Web Manager for the Terroir Hospitality Symposium.
In her spare time, she can usually be found playing with her giant Bernese mountain dog, tending her tomatoes or investigating the newest local food haunt. She is an avid instagrammer, blogger and traveller. She has studied in Brno, slurped snails in Morrocco, cycled the Irish coast and eaten puffin in Iceland. She’s also been known to drive all the way to Ottawa for a well poured pint.
Trevor Jonas Benson, Director of Food Tourism Development & Innovation
Trevor is a socially-minded systems thinker, progressive project manager, and enthusiastic enterpriser, who is as passionate about collaborating with others to create meaningful change in the way we experience and value not only food but also the people and places that make it taste so great.
For the past 10 years, Trevor has been working to support the development of short value changes and local sustainable food systems, and he loves only one thing more than cooking and eating food with others, and that’s travel. Trevor feels privileged to have worked for a couple of years in London’s 1,000-year-old food market (Borough Market) and counts himself among the blessed to call the culinary capital of the Caribbean (Barbados) his second home.
Trevor brings vast experience in community-based and market research, evaluation and impact assessment, marketing and sales, and social enterprise development and capacity building. He has a background in Sustainable Local Food as well as Law and Human Rights, and sits on the Advisory Committee of FoodShare Toronto’s Cross-Cultural Food Access Innovation Hub.
By working in cross-functional teams and on diverse projects, Trevor has learned how to turn challenges into opportunities, plan strategically, growing sustainably, partner wisely, and measuring accurately.
Christine Kuyzk, Program Manager
Christine is an entrepreneurial thinker and lifelong learner who believes that an individual can make a difference and that most good things come from being close to the land. Her boundless energy and sense of adventure have lead to unique opportunities: representing Canada at the New Orleans World’s Fair, coordinating cereal crop field trials with farmers in Northern Saskatchewan and observing foreign elections with CANADEM, a non-profit peace and security organization.
Christine spent many years in the corporate IT world and eventually, her desire to put her degree in Agriculture into play lead her to start a successful gift basket company, which exposed her to small-scale Ontario food companies and growers. For the past five years, Christine managed business development and sales with the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, where she focused on attracting local and artisanal producers and cultivating relationships to support the ‘farm to table’ narrative.
Christine Kuyzk is a certified ESL teacher and finds inspiration in the diverse, multicultural world of new Canadians. She has always led an active lifestyle and spends her free time golfing, skiing and traveling this wide world.
Nalisha Sankreacha, Research Associate
Nalisha is a strong advocate for local food system development. She believes in the promotion of a sustainable and collaborative food networks that work to enhance the environment and economy while stimulating tourism.
Nalisha has a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from the University of Toronto and a diploma in Hospitality and Tourism from George Brown College. Nalisha was born in England and has lived in Kenya. Yet, her heart belongs in the Haliburton Highlands where she worked as an outdoor educator for three summers.
Nalisha believes in eating conscientiously — digging out the where, who, and why surrounding food production. She loves watermelon radishes, espresso, and hearty stout beers. Nalisha is constantly searching for new soup recipes that use fresh, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables. When she isn’t hovering over a pot of bubbling soup she can be found hiking, canoeing, or reading.
Nalisha is very excited to be working on building better food and tourism destinations through Research and Development for the CTA!
Caroline Morrow, Project Coordinator
Caroline is a professional that thrives on project-based work. She is always on the lookout for local food experiences and she is passionate about promoting economic development through sustainable food systems. With a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and a Bachelor’s of Art, Caroline has a strong research background. Her studies have focused on international development, economics, food systems, environmental studies and land management.
Alongside non-profit organizations, academic institutions and municipal governments, Caroline has worked on international participatory research and engagement projects. In Panama, she worked with organic coffee farmers to investigate links between agro-tourism, biodiversity and economic development. In Mexico, she studied communal land management and food sovereignty. In India, she led a team of researchers through the development of a community engagement framework using interactive research methods.
Caroline is passionate about involving the public in plan development and has extensive experience designing collaborative research activities, facilitating engagement sessions and liaising with different organizations. Through various national and international projects, Caroline has worked closely with the public, community groups, developers, First Nations governments, municipalities and consulting teams. Caroline is enthusiastic about showcasing unique food experiences, shaping how people experience places through food, and helping regions identify their unique “taste of place”.
Landon Logie, Communications Intern
Landon is a passionate individual who approaches every project with gusto, and from whom you will never get less than 110%. She is always looking for challenges and new experiences that will provide her the opportunity to learn and grow – if food is involved, even better!
At 14 Landon had the opportunity to travel North-America while participating as a contestant on a reality TV show. Throughout her travels Landon saw first-hand how powerful the connection is between a city, their food and their culture. This built the foundation to what is now a strong belief in the importance of the farm—to—table movement, and a love for culinary experiences that highlight this.
Landon has a Special Event Management Diploma and is currently completing her Honours BA in Business Administration – Hospitality, with the dream of one day opening her own consulting firm. In her spare time you can find Landon in the kitchen whipping up her famous cheesecake, out for a run on the Lakeshore promenade, or sipping an Old-Fashioned on a rooftop patio.
OUR 2017 – 2018 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Stacey Dunnigan City of Guelph
Michael Steinburg Media Professional
Amanda Virtanen Rogers Media
Ballu Thakur George Brown College
Jill Rudderham Retail Consultant
Martin Mejia Independent Business Owner
Michele Harris Headwaters Tourism