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.
Danielle Katz, Feast On Program Manager
Danielle is an advocate for natural health and wellness, and practices what she preaches, with the exception of the odd tub of coconut ice cream. Upon graduating from McGill University, Danielle completed a Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Resources, followed by a designation as a Holistic Nutritionist. In addition to hospitality management, Danielle has experience in sales, marketing and nutritional consulting. Danielle’s passion for natural health and the local food movement led her to start a business selling nutritional smoothies at the Evergreen Brickworks Farmer’s Market. She also worked with a local tea company where she formulated a health focused tea line. In 2014, Danielle went on a road trip across the U.S volunteering on farms and learning about various farming practices. Danielle joined the CTA in 2016 as the Feast On Program Manager. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys visiting farmers and arts market, practicing yoga, reading, live music, doing DIY craft projects and travelling. Some of her favourite destinations include the Canadian Rockies, New Zealand and Nicaragua.
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!
Joy Bauwens, Communications Intern
Joy is a Belgian student in communications at the Arteveldehogeschool in Ghent. She has a flair for languages and can speak Dutch, French, English and a bit of German.Joy is the kind of person that always picks the weird thing on the menu. Passionate about cultures, she has an urge to discover new tastes and countries. She firmly believes that the best way to get to know a culture is by eating its food. In 2014, Joy went volunteering on a dairy farm in Iceland to get to the source of our food. Two years later, she did an exchange in Finland at the university of Jyväskylä and discovered one of her favourite dishes, salmon soup. During the weekend, you can find her hiking in the forest, experimenting with different cuisines or strolling down the local farmers markets. She thinks she eats too much chocolate, but uses the excuse that she is from Belgium. Also, she would give her right arm for honeycomb, good red wine and sushi.
OUR 2016 – 2017 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Stacey Dunnigan City of Guelph
Michael Steinburg Media Professional
Debbie Trenholm Savvy Company Inc.
David Adames Niagara Parks Commission
Ballu Thakur George Brown College
Jill Rudderham Retail Consultant
Sheila Whyte Thyme & Again Creative Catering
Martin Mejia Independent Business Owner
Michele Harris Headwaters Tourism