Upcoming Events

Chicago Conference 2024

Spring 2024 Supply Chain Expert Exchange Conference May 16-17 in Chicago, Register Now!

Connect with your restaurant supply chain peers May 16 - 17, 2024 at the Swissotel Chicago for the Supply Chain Expert Exchange Spring Conference!

With an agenda developed by your industry peers, this is the only conference created by and for restaurant supply chain professionals.

The conference is only open to restaurant operators and those who work in supply chain management for restaurant or hospitality companies.

The first 100 restaurant operators who register for the conference and book their room using the link in their confirmation email will receive a complimentary standard hotel room the night of Thursday, May 16. 

All restaurant operator attendees will receive free admission to the National Restaurant Association Restaurant Show, May 18 - 21.

​​​​Register Here!



General Session – Zurich Ballroom

Meals – Vevey

Networking Breaks – Zurich Pre-Function

Reception & Dinner Thursday Evening – Offshore Rooftop (Transportation Provided)


Thursday, May 16

11:00 a.m.

Registration Desk Opens

Zurich Registration

2:00 p.m.

Conference Welcome & Kick Off

Speaker: Kristi Kingery, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain, Tropical Smoothie Cafe

2:15 p.m.

Operational Excellence with Charles Watson: Navigating Growth At Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Join us for an in-depth conversation with Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe, as we delve into the operational strategies and logistics that have propelled the brand to over 1,300 cafes in 44 states. Gain insights into the leadership philosophies and decisions that have guided one of the fastest-growing restaurant franchises in the U.S and the critical role supply chain plays.  This conversation will be a blend of professional wisdom and personal narrative, offering a unique perspective on achieving success in the foodservice sector during uncertain times.

3:15 p.m.

Networking Break

3:45 p.m.

Traceability – How prepared are you for FSMA Implementation?

This session offers a unique lens on traceability from the viewpoints of operators, distributors, and suppliers. Learn from the experiences of industry peers as we navigate the complexities of implementing robust traceability systems to meet FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) requirements. Discussion will include insights that may even transform your view, highlighting the benefits awaiting on the other side of compliance.

4:25 p.m.

Day One Wrap-Up

Speaker: Dessi Zaneva, Vice President of Strategic Sourcing, Jersey Mike's Franchise Systems, Inc.

6:00 p.m.

Buses Begin Loading for Reception & Dinner at Offshore Rooftop

6:30 p.m.

Reception & Dinner

Offshore Rooftop, 1000 E Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611


Friday, May 17


7:30 a.m.


8:30 a.m.

Opening Remarks

Speaker: Kristi Kingery, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain, Tropical Smoothie Cafe

8:40 a.m.

Navigating Commodities: Economic Forces, Trends and Your Questions Answered

Speaker: Dhamu Thamodaran, Advisor, National Restaurant Association Supply Chain Expert Exchange

Experience Dhamu's distinctive, data-driven, and engaging take on the ever-evolving commodities market. You’ll get practical knowledge geared for the unique foodservice needs, deepening your understanding of market dynamics for strategic decision-making. This year, the format adds a fresh twist: after a 30-minute overview, the floor will open for a Q&A session. So come prepared with your questions to make the most of this opportunity!

9:30 a.m.

Regulatory Roadmap: What’s ahead for the Foodservice Supply Chain

Speaker:  Laura Abshire, Director of Food and Sustainability Policy, National Restaurant Association

Are you ready for the next Prop 12? This session covers the latest rules and upcoming regulations shaping the foodservice industry. Learn how these changes could influence operators and their supply chain partners, equipping you with the knowledge to prepare for future challenges and adapt pathways for success.

10:00 a.m.

Networking Break

10:40 a.m.

Distribution – TBD

11:20 a.m.

What is Keeping Supply Chain Executives Up at Night?

Moderator: Joel Neikirk, Chief Executive Officer, Restaurant Services, Inc


Kirsten Michulka, President and Chief Executive Officer, Independent Purchasing Cooperative

Anissa Mandell-Chance, President, ARCOP, Inc.

James Butler, Senior Vice President & Chief Supply Chain Officer, Brinker International

This session addresses the pressing concerns and challenges facing today's foodservice supply chain leaders. We’ll cover a range of hot topics, from emerging issues and government regulations to the next significant challenges on the horizon. Hear from leading supply chain executives as they share insights and predictions on what lies ahead in our post-COVID world.

12:00 p.m.


1:00 p.m.

Roundtable Discussions

Our most popular session! Learn from industry peers, share your own experiences and grow your network while discussing what’s most important to you. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with peers in a small group format and participate in two roundtable discussions each lasting 30 minutes. Table guides will ensure lively and interactive conversations, making sure everyone has a chance to share and take away actionable solutions.

2:30 p.m.

Networking Break

3:00 p.m.

Session - TBA

4:00 p.m.

Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence

In this discussion our speakers will explore how emerging technologies and digital advancements are reshaping security and privacy landscapes. With a focus on practical implications for the foodservice supply chain, you’ll get insights on the complexities of data protection, mitigating cybersecurity threats, and leveraging AI for enhanced operational efficiency.

4:40 p.m.

Closing Remarks






Past Events

Fall 2023 Conference

Fall 2023 Supply Chain Expert Exchange Conference

Join us October 16-17, 2023, in Orlando, Florida for the National Restaurant Association Supply Chain Expert Exchange Fall Conference.

Learn from industry leaders, share your own experience, and grow your network so you’ll be ready to face the industry’s most pressing challenges.

We’re excited to once again be hosting the event prior to the Market Vision Fall conference giving the restaurant supply chain community the opportunity to network with and learn from leaders in the foodservice industry. 

Don’t miss the ONLY event created by people that run restaurant supply chains.


Monday Oct 16

3:00 PM Registration desk opens

6:15 PM – Welcome Networking Reception and dinner at the beautiful Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida. Transportation will be provided.

Tuesday October 17:

8:00 AM – Breakfast

9:00 AM – Opening Remarks

9:15 AM - From Data to Action: Understanding Key Economic Indicators with Dhamu Thamodaran, Advisor, National Restaurant Association Supply Chain Expert Exchange

In today's highly competitive and rapidly changing food service industry, understanding and effectively managing economic indicators is essential for optimizing the supply chain. In this conference session, Dr. Dhamu Thamodaran will shed light on the crucial economic indicators that foodservice professionals must grasp, monitor, and interpret to make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and drive efficiency throughout their supply chain.

10:05 AM - Navigating Difficult Conversations: Having difficult conversations can be challenging, but with the right mindset and effective communication strategies, we can transform them into valuable opportunities for growth, understanding, and building stronger relationships. This panel, brought to you by the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF), will offer insights from senior leaders sharing their personal experiences and lessons learned that have helped them to navigate challenging conversations, cultivate candor and move forward with mutual understanding and trust, both personally and professionally.

10:55 AM - Networking Break

11:25 AM - Solutions Focused Networking: Get ready to supercharge your networking game while problem solving with peers during the first of two separate Roundtable Networking sessions. We’ve designed this time for you to share ideas and solutions to common problems in the foodservice supply chain industry while expanding your professional network. In each session, you can join a targeted discussion from the topic list below to get fresh perspectives on industry-specific challenges. These conversations will be facilitated so that everyone has a chance to share and take something valuable away.

12:05 PM - Lunch

1:00 PM - Shift Your Brilliance – Act Like an Employee and Think a CEO (Creative Engagement Optimist) With Simon Bailey. Shift Your Brilliance invites every team member to be accountable for their performance, lead without a title, embrace a fluid career vision rather working in-person, remotely, or as a hybrid. Be a transformational thinker by doing common work in an uncommon way. Based on his bestseller – Shift Your Brilliance – Harness the Power of You, Inc.  Every attendee will receive a complimentary copy of Simon’s book Shift Your Brilliance.

1:50 PM - A Conversation with Kevin Hourican, Sysco CEO: Kevin will sit down with Charlie Lousignont and share his professional journey to lead the world's largest foodservice distributor which began with his graduate degree in Supply Chain Management. He will talk about his own professional development and offer his perspective on keys to success. Kevin will discuss best practices from his experience in the retail sector and how that can be applied to Foodservice.  He will also share insight on how suppliers and buyers partnerships have changed since the pandemic and how technology is reshaping our industry.

2:40 - Afternoon Session: More Solutions Focused Networking: The learning and networking continue! In our second Roundtable Networking session, we're revisiting the same engaging topics from the morning session. This gives you the opportunity to dive deeper into focused discussions and gain fresh perspectives on industry-specific challenges. Table guides will ensure lively and interactive conversations, making sure everyone has a chance to share and take away actionable solutions.

3:15 PM - Networking Break

3:45 PM - Negotiations - How to Increase the Value of your Deals with Brian Buck, Chief Executive Officer, Scotwork

Upskill your negotiators with this engaging session presented by Brian Buck, the CEO of Scotwork®, the world’s number one independent negotiation consultancy. This interactive program will delve into the art of negotiating and drive home the five things you should be doing to increase the value of your deals. You will gain valuable insights, practical tips, and proven strategies to enhance your negotiation prowess in both personal and professional settings. Don't miss this opportunity to refine your skills and empower yourself as a proficient negotiator.

4:50 PM - Conference adjourns