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Sam Quinones, Martha Hoover, and MasterChef Champion Shaun O'Neale

among celebrity speaker lineup at Expo

COLUMBUS, OH (Nov. 1, 2019) The annual Mid-America Restaurant Expo will be a star-studded event with celebrity chefs, restaurant and foodservice industry leaders and experts. With top names like Sam Quinones, Martha Hoover and Shaun O'Neale, the 2020 Expo will be the best yet.

The Mid-America Restaurant Expo, hosted by the Ohio Restaurant Association, is the premier Midwest regional restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry tradeshow that focuses on innovation, technology and trends. The show is scheduled for February 23-24 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

With more than 300 booths, 4,000 attendees and nearly 50 seminars, speakers, panelists and cooking demos, exhibitors and operators will discuss the latest trends, technology and tools, as well as sample food and beverage products in a collaborative and network-friendly environment. The Expo is geared toward independent operators, regional chains, franchise and national operations in the region, and is perfect for start-ups and veteran operators alike. Specialty areas on the tradeshow floor include attendee favorites like the Food Truck Park and Farmers Crossing, and areas focused on beverage trends such as The Establishment and Liquid Lane, the new Innovation Alley and, back by popular demand, Flavors of the Midwest.

Expo University presents Four Education Tracks for attendees to participate in: Technology & Trends, Food & Beverage, Workforce Development and Professional Services. The featured speaker and panelist lineup include the following:

Technology & Trends:

  • Tom Grote, Chief Advisor, Edge Innovation Hub
  • Michael P. LaMarca, Master Pizza
  • Bill Everett, Rusty Bucket Restaurant & Tavern
  • Jenn Hier, Nextbite
  • Kyle O'Keefe, SWACO
  • Will Notini, Technomic Consumer Insights
  • Matt Fish, Owner/Founder Melt Bar & Grilled

Food & Beverage

Cocktail Demos

  • Christina Basham, Middle West Spirits
  • Allison Kave, Butter & Scotch 

Sysco Sunday at the Demo stage

Featuring: Chefs Shaun O'Neale and Christian Gill
With Cincinnati chefs:

  • Steve Kovacic, Nation Kitchen and Bar
  • Hideki Harada, Kiki Cincy
  • Mapi Deveyra, Quan Hapa

Monday at the Demo stage, hosted by Joe Sam from Good Day Columbus

Featuring: Chefs Monique Costello and Mario Rizzotti
With chefs:

  • Bac Nguyen, Ninja City
  • Liz Faller, Sysco Cincinnati

Workforce Development

  • Rohini Dey, Vermilion
  • Brandon Chrostowski, Edwin’s Leadership Institute
  • Anthony Berin, Social OTR
  • Paula Haines, Freedom a la Cart
  • Martha Hoover, Patachou, Inc.
  • Libby Saylor Wright, Women’s Foodservice Forum
  • Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s
  • Lisa Ingram, White Castle Systems
  • Jane Grote-Abell, Donatos
  • Britney Ruby-Miller, Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment
  • Roy Getz, Profit Guides, LLC
  • Bac Nguyen, Ninja City
  • Wendy Miller Pugh & Letha Pugh, Bake Me Happy
  • Prakash Karamchandani, Balance Pan-Asian Grill
  • Anthony Joseph, White Castle Systems
  • Ryan Costello, Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Professional Services

  • Charlie Deibel, Senior Partner, Bevinco
  • Claire Coder, Founder & CEO, Aunt Flow
  • Dr. Melissa Briggs-Phillips, Founder, NextGen Behavioral Health
  • Leah Eaton, Senior Account Executive, Belle Communication

Sam Quinones, the author of best-selling book Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic will be a featured speaker. Quinones will tailor his presentation to restaurant, foodservice and hospitality professionals and discuss how the opioid crisis has affected those industries. Learn more here.



About the Ohio Restaurant Association 
Since 1920, The Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) is the leading business trade association promoting, protecting and partnering with Ohio’s $24.2 billion restaurant and foodservice industry. The ORA represents the third-largest private sector employer in the state, including 22,547 locations and more than 585,00 employees, and helps members build customer loyalty, rewarding careers and financial success with a range of services and thought leadership. For more information, visit


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