Board of Directors
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant
Todd has been a Las Vegas resident since 1975. He earned his Degree in Business Administration in New York, then moved to Las Vegas and continued his education in Marketing at UNLV.
He started his career in the industry as a dishwasher with Sizzler Steak House, over time he worked his way up to become the youngest General Manager in the company at the age of 23. Todd has had the pleasure of working in restaurant operations from fast food to table side Gourmet. For the last 19 years he has worked with the Landry’s Restaurant Group and has enjoyed tremendous success and joy in doing so. He celebrated his 30th Anniversary with his wife Nancy in April, and has 2 children & 5 grandchildren. In his free time, he enjoys watching all sports, spending time in the outdoors and traveling.
Bridgeport Benefits Insurance Services
Wayne Blasman is the Founder of Bridgeport's family of Insurance companies including Bridgeport Benefits and Bridgeport RPA. With 30 years experience in the Insurance business, Wayne and the team at Bridgeport have brought special health insurance and employee benefits programs to the NvRA, along with a brand new Workers Comp Plan and a Full line of Business Insurance Plans discounted for NvRA members.
Wayne has won numerous service awards and has key affiliations across America. Wayne is a member of the Life Underwriters Association and Health Underwriters Association, as well as a member in good standing of the National Association of Health Underwriters.
Wayne has served as a board member for local schools, and was nominated as Small Business Person of the Year by his local member of Congress. Bridgeport has a local office at 4330 Valley View Blvd, suite 106, Las Vegas, Nevada 89103. Bridgeport can be reached on the web at www.bridgeportbenefits.com.
Todd's Unique Dining
The Restaurant Todd’s Unique Dining was opened in May of 2004 and has been doing well since the opening. Todd is an active member of The Henderson Chamber of Commerce, The Chaine de Rotisseurs,The Order de Mondrial, Board Member of The Art Institute - Culinary Program and Member of the American Culinary Federation.
Todd has appeared in many local cooking segments and has 2 episodes of "This ain’t no Buffet” currently airing. Todd was also only the 2nd chef to be interviewed and featured in the Review Journals Great Chef Series that started in 1995, only after Wolfgang Puck.
Vice Chairman Board of Directors Senior Vice President of Restaurants SBE Entertainment
Matt Erickson joined SBE entertainment in 2006 and has been instrumental in the opening and expansion of the world-class restaurant group, as well as instituting many of their key systems, policies and procedures. Erickson oversaw the company’s award-winning portfolio of concepts nationwide, including The Bazaar by José Andrés, Katsuya by Starck and Cleo, to name just a few. In addition to collaborating with some of the world’s most highly-regarded chefs, Erickson spearheaded concept development, operations and sales and marketing, leading a team of over 1,000 restaurant professionals.
Prior to his time with SBE, Erickson began his restaurant management career in 1996 at Armani Café on Newbury Street in Boston. He then moved on to New York where he was a bartender and managed several bars and restaurants including Aubette and Abaya. During his time in New York, Erickson opened Ono at the Gansevoort Hotel for China Grill and Jeffrey Chodorow before becoming General Manager of the Lakeside in Montauk New York.
Erickson’s in-depth knowledge of SBE’s restaurant brands, and more importantly his culture, has been critical in driving success at SBE’s largest property – SLS Las Vegas. SLS Las Vegas houses a dynamic variety of SBE restaurants, bars, lounges and nightclubs, all operated and managed by SBE and affiliates. Most recently, Erickson was elected vice chairman of restaurants for the Nevada Restaurant Association’s 2015 board of directors.
Ferraro's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar
When he was 12 years old, Gino Ferraro emigrated with his family from Italy to Syracuse, New York. At the young age of 17, he opened his first café in Syracuse. At 22 years old, he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. He worked as a Casino Executive at the MGM from 1976-85 and in 1985, he opened his first eatery in Las Vegas, Ferraro’s Restaurant. Gino was a pioneer in fine dining and his passion for wine has lead his restaurant and wine cellar to receive numerous accolades and awards. Some of his awards include DiRoNa, Wine Spectator, 5-Star Diamond “Best Italian Restaurant”. Gino’s restaurant has been an institution for 30 years and counting. The longevity of the restaurant is explained by Gino’s Old Fashioned methods as a Restauranteur. Gino serves on the Board of the Nevada Restaurant Association and continues his studies in Italian wine.
Epicurean Strategic Partners
Tony Figurelli is Founding Partner/COO of Epicurean Strategic Partners LLC, a worldwide management & consulting firm with offices in Las Vegas, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney.
Tony began his restaurant management career in Basking Ridge, New Jersey where he managed and developed new restaurant & food service concepts and became Director of Suburban Stores and then to Director of Training & Development. After leaving New Jersey he became Vice President of Operations for a Dallas-based national restaurant company with restaurants in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas.
He was later recruited by Morton's CEO Allen Bernstein to become the founding President/COO of Bertolini's Restaurants Inc., a subsidiary of the publicly held Morton's Restaurant Group Inc.
In 1997 Tony created Meridian Hospitality Associates, a restaurant consulting and executive placement firm. His love of the restaurant industry took him back into operations as Executive Vice President of Cafe TU TU TANGO, a national award-winning concept voted by Nation’s Restaurant News as a "Hot Concept".
Tony currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada where he continues to build and develop restaurant concepts for hospitality business owners and stellar careers for hospitality professionals throughout the world.
President of Desert Meats
John Foster assumed the position as General Manager at Desert Meats, SSMC in 2014.
Big believers in Product Integrity and Excellence in Customer Service, John Foster and the Desert Meats team support all efforts to deliver the best protein products available in the market today to your restaurant table.
A Graduate from The University of Texas in 1991, John is no stranger to the protein industry, starting in the meat packing industry with Cargill in 1984, then moving into the food service in 1992. He was involved with new product development, vendor/customer relationships marketing and procurement. He then worked with end users to locate new and innovative menu ideas to move volume through distribution.
From “the meat buyer” in 1992, John Foster became President/CEO of Buckhead Beef in 2005, one of the largest portion control facilities in the United States, at the early age of 42.
Before joining Buckhead Beef, John had already developed strong professional and personal relationships since 1984 at one of the largest meat packers in the world, Cargill/Excel. Beginning his career at Excel gave him firsthand knowledge of what is required to produce and deliver high quality beef and pork products. These relationships and experience helped John and his team at Buckhead Beef create the fast paced, explosive growth and results observed by the industry through the 1990’s and beyond.
Today, the current market is unpredictable and the past 5-8 years has seen its share of volatility. John’s experience, relationships, and his abilities to assist in Sourcing, Negotiating, Auditing (product/vendor performance) and Purchasing (contract, spot market, or program evaluation) represent strong benefits to our business from the Packer to the Plate.
Passionate about turning challenges into opportunities, John Foster provides the leadership and support to help our team succeed, from the Processing Rooms, through our Purchasing, Sales, Warehouse, and Delivery Departments, to your table.
Executive Director, TISOH: The International School of Hospitality
Timothy M Lam earned his Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, a Master Degree in Hotel Administration from University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Master's of International Business degree from University of South Carolina.
Timothy M. Lam is a founder and Executive Director of The International School of Hospitality (TISOH) in Las Vegas. During its 10 years, more than 1,500 students have graduated from TISOH, which specializes in short-term courses ranging from event planning and catering to concierge and hospitality leadership.
In 2015, he became president of the Foundation of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE).
Lawry's, The Prime Rib
Edward Lepere received a degree in Electrical Power Distribution from the Franklin Institute of Boston in 1972. After college he began a career with Stone & Webster Engineering in Boston as a draftsman of nuclear and hydroelectric power plants.Ed began his career in the restaurant industry at age 12 when he learned from his father, also a restaurant manager. Starting in the kitchen he went on to work as a busboy and then as a waiter through college. In 1976 he had an opportunity to become a manager of a catering firm and left the engineering field behind. In 1978 Westin Hotels hired Ed as assistant manager of The Top of Five and Bona Vista cocktail lounge of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. He was later promoted to Assistant Manager of the five star gourmet dining room, Beaudry’s at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. In 1982, Ed joined Lawry’s Restaurants as an assistant manager of The Five Crown’s Restaurant in Corona Del Mar California. In 1993 he was promoted to the position of General Manager of the Tam O’Shanter Inn in Los Angeles and in 1999 became General Manager of Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas.
Ed has been married to his wife Julie since 1988, is the father of one daughter and has two grandchildren. Ed has been honored by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a “Hometown Hero” for his community and civic involvement. Currently Ed is active in hospitality industry education and development and was elected as Chairman of the Nevada Restaurant Association in 2013. Since 2008 Ed has also served on the Board of Governor
A native Austrian, Gustav E. Mauler is President and CEO of Gustav International Chartered, a restaurant, hospitality, management and consulting company specializing in multi, themed designs based in Las Vegas, Nevada, operating two entities; Spiedini and Gustav’s Catering, a culturally diverse full-service catering division.
He is a graduate of the Innkeeper School in Vienna and is one of few American Culinary Federation Certified Master Chefs in the United States. He was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Accolades include Nation’s Restaurant News 1997 Fifty New Players, Nevada’s 1991 Restaurateur of Year, Food & Beverage Association 2000 Culinarian of The Year, The International Food & Beverage Forum 2006 Restaurateur of the Year, and the American Academy of Chefs 2007 Chef Good Taste Award - Western Region.
Gustav Mauler joined the gaming industry in 1980 with the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1987, he moved to the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Nevada. During his tenure as Senior VP with Mirage Resorts, he oversaw the development, planning and design of all food and beverage areas along with a myriad of restaurants and lounges. The culinary genius behind Mirage Resorts, Gustav’s skills and knowledge influenced the changes of the hospitality industry in Las Vegas, paving the way for independent restaurateurs and celebrity chefs to come to the city. Working with local authorities, he recommended food standards now in effect for the county. He has mentored numerous aspiring chefs who have gone on to become executive chefs at some of Vegas’ top properties and restaurants.
President at Sysco
Bill Mikulka accomplished CPG Executive with extensive experience in general management and senior sales leadership in a Fortune 500 company. He also has expertise in strategic planning, full P&L responsibility, customer development, revenue growth/management and merger/acquisitions at a regional and national level. He has been respected for leadership, analytical skills, collaboration and passion for results.
Bill has proven leader consistently delivering above plan performance and leader of change by identifying strategic priorities, brand/marketplace opportunities and executional priorities.
His specialties include People Leadership, Revenue Management, P&L Management, Senior Level Sales Leadership, Talent Development.
President/ Co-owner of Squeeze In
Shila Morris is a Northern Nevada native and a restaurateur. She is the President and co-owner of the Squeeze In breakfast and lunch restaurant chain. Starting as a busser and server Shila worked her way up through the company and helped the business grow from one location to five and break into the franchising industry helping Squeeze In become one of the fastest growing franchise companies in the market. Shila has delivered a TEDx speech at the University of Nevada Reno about the growth of her family business and is now pursuing other entrepreneurial paths including public speaking, mentoring and marketing in her new family business YoungSocial. She lives in Reno Nevada with her husband Chad and their three children Wesley, Emerie and Annadelle and is currently studying at the University of Nevada Reno for her Masters degree in Sociology.
Timothy Edwin Robert Moulson, born January 24, 1944 in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. His family relocated to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1955 and began his restaurant career as a cook in a drive-in theatre at the age of 15.
Tim started as a manager trainee at McDonald’s of Western Canada Limited, and worked his way through the company to become an assistant manager, manager, and finally the Director of Training for Western Canada, a position he held for 7 years.
In 1982 Tim immigrated to the USA with McDonald’s and was the first non-American to work at McDonald’s Hamburger University in Illinois where he was the Assistant Dean. Tim was also a part of the new Hamburger University in Oakbrook Illinois. He became a US citizen while at McDonald’s Corporate office.
Tim was transferred to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1985 as an Operations Consultant to advise McDonald’s franchisees. He and his family resided there for 3 years, and after leaving McDonald’s, he relocated to Orlando, Florida where he opened 9 TCBY yogurt stores as a franchisee.
After 7 years in his own business Tim decided to return to the corporate world. This time with Wendy’s Old Fashion Hamburgers. He was relocated to Honolulu, Hawaii and was responsible for training and development of franchisees in the Asian/Pacific Markets. He retired from Wendy’s in 2011 and formed his own company TERM Management Consulting International and managed the opening of restaurants in New Zealand. TERM Management Consulting International has flourished in Las Vegas and has helped over 30 restaurants meet food safety compliance in order to open their doors or to remain open.
Dolce Vita Gelato
In May of 1999, Pellegrini seized an amazing opportunity and moved to Las Vegas to become the executive chef and partner of Valentino Las Vegas in the Venetian Hotel & Casino, the sister restaurant to Selvaggio's iconic Santa Monica location. Over the past decade, Pellegrini's dedication and passion in the kitchen has solidified Valentino as one of the leading Italian restaurants in the southwest.
Valentino Las Vegas has received numerous awards including the esteemed DiRoNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) Award of Excellence, six Las Vegas Life Epicurean Awards for Best Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas, and Valentino Las Vegas has also received the Grand Award from Wine Spectator annually since 2002. In 2004, Pellegrini achieved one of the culinary world's highest honors by receiving the prestigious award for Best Chef in the Southwest by the James Beard Foundation.
BJ's Nevada Barbecue
Peter Rathmann is the Owner of BJ's Nevada Barbecue Company, located in Sparks, Nevada. Owned and operated as a family business for the last twenty years, BJ’s Nevada Barbecue has received many accolades including being the winner of the Best in the West Rib Cookoff. Peter serves as a twenty year member of the American Culinary Federation High Sierra Chefs Association, the Nevada Restaurant Association, National Barbecue Association, and the Nevada Manufacturers Association.
Maggie Feldman Rubenstein
Magnetic Public Relations
Magnetic Public Relations founder Maggie Feldman has over 15 years of marketing and public relations experience, with a concentration in the consumer lifestyle arena. She has represented hotel, casino, restaurant, and nightlife properties such as Mandalay Bay Resort Casino, The Balboa Bay Club & Resort, TAO Asian Bistro, Nightclub & Beach, LAVO Restaurant & Nightclub, Dos Caminos Mexican Kitchen, Milos Estiatorio, Boa Steakhouse and Sushi Roku as well as luxury brands including Krug Champagne and Silver Cross baby goods.
Additionally, she has directed communications efforts for development projects including W Las Vegas/Edge Group, Ellis Gaming/Ellis Las Vegas and Port Lawrence Palm Springs.
Her background also spans events such as the Newport Beach Food & Wine Festival, the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction and the CineVegas Film Festival, entertainment offerings including The Blue Man Group, Cirque Du Soleil and Sirens of TI and packaged food products such as Balance Nutrition Bar and Fruit a Freeze Ice Cream.
Seth M. Schorr
Seth Schorr is Chief Executive Officer of Fifth Street Gaming. Fifth Street Gaming (FSG) owns and operates four gaming assets in the Las Vegas valley. With over 800 combined slot machines, 16 table games, 6 F&B outlets, 100 hotel rooms and 300 employees, FSG has successfully operated the Lucky Club Casino & Hotel, Silver Nugget Casino, Opera House Gambling Hall and Little Macau Tavern through the most challenged economy in the history of Las Vegas. In February 2011, Fifth Street Gaming took over the development and operation of the Lady Luck Casino & Hotel. FSG will be responsible for operating 650 hotel rooms, 670 slot machines, 29 table games and 18 food and beverage outlets when the property opens.
Vice President of Food & Beverage The Venetian | The Palazzo
Growing up in the south of France with a French mother and Italian father, Sebastien developed an appreciation for food and beverage at an early age. Sebastien attended Esitel where he studied culinary arts and hotel management and graduated with honors in 1997.
Sebastien’s career began at the Lanesborough Hotel in London, England where he served as a restaurant manager. He was then transferred to the United States to become the F&B Manager at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas.
He then became the Director of F&B at the Orient Express Hotel, Bora Bora Lagoon Resort and Spa. In 2005, Sebastien was recruited to open the new Spa Tower at Bellagio in Las Vegas and served as the General Manager at Sensi. In 2006, he relocated to Newport Beach, Calif. to become the Director of F&B at The Island Hotel.
Currently, Sebastien is the Vice President of Food & Beverage at The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas. Outside of work, Sebastien enjoys spending time with his friends and family, traveling and enjoying a wide array of the world’s best food and wine.
Lawry's The Prime Rib
Dave Simmons is a restauranteur with over 40 years of experience. Chef Dave was born into the restaurant business and spent many years with his parents who owned a variety of restaurants. He started his culinary career at the age of 13 cooking in his father’s restaurants. Striking out on his own at the age of 21 after spending many years learning the business from his father, Dave worked his way around the country as Chef, General Manager, and Director of Operations in a variety of restaurants from Mom and Pops to Multi-chain Restaurant corporations. Once arriving in Las Vegas, he became General Manager and then Director of Operations for Marie Callenders Restaurants and Bakery opening new locations and Marie Callenders Catering. After 10 years he moved on to ark Restaurants which owns and operates most of the restaurants inside New York – New York Hotel and Casino where he worked as a Chef, General Manager, and 7 years as Executive Chef of Gallagher’s Steakhouse. Currently Dave is the Executive Chef at Lawry’s The Prime Rib where he has been instrumental in adding new items to the menu such as the Rib eye steak and a Beef Wellington. Dave is also the opening Chef for Lawry’s new International restaurants.
Dave has served as Chairman and Board of Director for Chef for Kids for the last 18 years. During Dave’s time on the Board and as Chairman the program has tripled in size and added many new programs helping high risk low income children of Clark County.Dave has also served on the Professional Advisory Committee for the International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Las Vegas for the last 8 years. Chef Dave was named to the “Best Chef America” list in 2013 and 2014. He was awarded the American Culinary Federation “Chef of the Year” for 2015.
Sutton Hague Law Corporation
Mr. Sutton is one of the founding partners of Sutton Hague Law Corporation with offices in Nevada and California. With 27 years in practice, he brings extensive experience in counseling clients on labor and employment law matters and aggressively representing clients in litigation of employment law cases before federal and state courts and administrative agencies in both Nevada and California.
He provides advice and assistance on legal compliance issues such as on-site training sessions for management, employment contracts, safety issues, wage and hour compliance, workplace investigations, application and background check issues, employee benefits, trade secrets and confidential information, reductions in force, employee privacy rights, ADA interactive process/workplace accommodation, pre-termination review, disciplinary issues, severance agreements, harassment/discrimination complaints, and employee leave issues.
Mr. Sutton is also a qualified mediator for employment law cases and is frequently a featured speaker for industry groups and professional organizations. He is also a contributing editor to a leading treatise on employment law. He is a member of the Nevada State Bar, Labor and Employment Law Section, and a member of the Northern and Southern Nevada Human Resource Associations. www.suttonhague.com.