• RIIC

Event postponed New date will be advised : Food Tech Futures: Accelerating innovation through global


Event postponed New date will be advised

Conference and Dinner Time : 1:00 pm - 7:30 pm 1:00 pm -5:00 pm Conference

5:00 pm - 5:30 pm Wine Tasting

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm Food Tasting

Location: Hope & Main, 691 Main St. Warren, RI

Early Bird Tickets until February 29th - $105. After February 29th, $125

To purchase tickets, click here:

Organized by The Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative and Hope & Main

For Sponsorship Opportunity Information, See link or contact us at info@theriic.org


As we enter a new decade, the world's food systems face unprecedented challenges driven by the escalating demands of climate change, population growth, geopolitical conflict, and economic imperative. These stressors require bold solutions capable of scaling rapidly on a global level. The future of food technology requires the kind of urgent innovation that is happening today in places like Israel and Rhode Island-- one a nation-state and one a city-state—who, out of necessity, have responded in resourceful and ingenious ways to the deep disruptions in our food systems.

Join a conversation with thought leaders from both Israel and Rhode Island as they discuss the application of technology to develop more sustainable food futures. This conference will explore the potentials in global and inter-sectoral collaboration around topics such as alternative proteins and biotechnology; soil-less agriculture and sustainable aquaculture; the challenges of the on-demand “food economy”; the new face of food waste; the rise of functional foods; and the next generation of food-tech change-makers and entrepreneurs.

Israeli Keynote Speakers and Chef

Tammy Meiron, Ph.D. Chief Technology Officer at

FRESH START Food-tech Incubator

Dr. Tammy Meiron, received her Ph.D. Chemistry, Biochemistry and Food Science from the Hebrew University. For the past 10 years Dr. Meiron led the technology of startup companies, mainly in the FoodTech field. Among them Dr. Meiron served as CTO of Zero-Egg ( https://zeroeggfood.com/) – plant-based egg substitute; Director of Food Science, Amai-proteins ( https://www.amaiproteins.com/) - sweet designer proteins such as sugar substitutes; was regarded as the "Google" of FoodTech; and CSO of Avomed - sustainable extraction of high potency active ingredients from avocado pits (biowaste). Dr. Merion also teaches the course "New Product Development" at the Hebrew University; is part of the steering committee of the Food Institute Annual Conference, is part of the founding and management team (as the CTO) of Fresh-Start FoodTech incubator and Dr. Meiron will be moderator and speaker at the annual summit of OurCrowd (13th February 2020 https://summit.ourcrowd.com/), in the FoodTech session: "Feeding the Planet Without Killing It" (expected more than 18,000 participants).

Rachel Yarcony Goldstein Speaker myAir food tech Co-Founder & Co-CEO Food & Pharma Expert

Rachel has profound leadership background with 20 years of hands-on experience, managing companies, leading strategic processes, sales and marketing of products in Food & Pharmaceuticals industries. Rachel was V.P. Marketing at Teva pharmaceuticals, Business Manager at Nestle and Marketing Manager at Strauss group. Rachel has proven success in bringing new products and break-through innovations to fruition in leading companies in highly competitive categories such as dairy, fresh salads, culinary and snacks. Rachel is a Grand EFFI Winner, for the effective marketing activity for the year 2012 – Nestle, the launch of a new snacks category “Shtuchim pretzels”. Rachel holds B.A. in Psychology & Communication from Tel-Aviv University, and MBA (with honors) from ESG in France.

In 2019, Rachel founded myAir food-tech, a personalized functional food company, specializing in stress management.

In a world where we manage our diet and manage our sports - it is essential that we will start to manage our stress., and personal nutrition is part of the solution.

myAir develops stress-relief nutrition bars backed with machine learning technology for personal deep profiling, offering a long-term personal stress management routine.

Israeli Chef Eran Geffen

Founder and Owner of Good Vines Catering Company

Chef Geffen was born and raised in Jerusalem. Eran was exposed to the diversity of the Mediterranean cuisine. The sights and smells of the international city intrigued him at an early age and drew him to explore and experiment with the plethora of flavors. For Eran, food isn’t merely a passion but a language, a way to express life. Eran began his career at Arkadia, one of the most creative and prestigious chef restaurants in Israel. His passion to explore new cuisines, learn cutting edge techniques and experience new cultures, drew him to relocate to Barcelona, Spain, where he worked at Enoteca, a 2-star Michelin restaurant. Returning to Israel, Eran spearheaded the creation of an up and coming Asian-fusion restaurant, RYU. As head chef he was able to implement his culinary vision and create a unique style.

Rhode Island Keynote Speakers and Chef

Matt & Erin Tortora, Co-Founders, WhatsGood

With nearly two decades of combined service to the U.S. Navy, Matt as a Nuclear Missile Technician, and Erin as a Supply Corps Officer, the husband and wife team founded WhatsGood in 2015 out of a shared passion for good food, and a vision of a more just and sustainable food system. A Johnson & Wales- trained Chef, Matt understood the challenges of disintermediating the typical supply chain in order to make the food produced by local farmers and fishers more accessible to chefs and consumers. Over the past five years, WhatsGood has attracted significant private investment and has developed some of the most radically game-changing eCommerce software that now powers hundreds of farmers markets and thousands of farmers, fishermen, and artisans across the United States with www.sourcewhatsgood.com. Now, Crave has developed the capability to enable small to mid-sized businesses in the Food & Beverage space with custom, yet affordable, eCommerce mobile apps and websites. Matt and Erin believe the right technology can open the door to healthier food for all. Their technology-driven platform and marketing tools, empowers local economies and independent businesses to compete with the growing eCommerce click and collect and delivery offered by mammoths such as Amazon and Walmart. WhatsGood's virtual farmers market coupled with their aggregation and delivery services offers buyers the same conveniences of big industry while supporting local farmers, fishermen and artisans, making it easy to source high quality, nutrient-dense local food.

Maria Kasparian, Executive Director, Edesia

Maria Kasparian is the Executive Director at Edesia, a non-profit organization based in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Edesia is dedicated to the treatment and prevention of malnutrition for vulnerable people in the developing world through manufacturing a range of fortified peanut-based ready-to-use foods (RUFs). Edesia annually produces and exports about 20,000 metric tons of products, which it has shipped to over 50 countries in partnership with humanitarian players including USAID, USDA, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme. In addition to producing high quality RUFs, the organization also: supports research and development to improve products and their distribution models; supports local producers of RUFs in the developing world; and engages in education and advocacy around global hunger and nutrition. Leading a team of 105 Rhode Island-based staff, Maria works closely with many international institutions and NGOs involved in nutrition programming and has followed shipments to Guatemala, Haiti, Niger, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Sierra Leone. She has a passion for both the positive effects of social enterprise in the United States, as well as the importance of drawing more attention to the issues of malnutrition and the life-long impact in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.Ms. Kasparian has been with Edesia since its inception in February 2009. Previously Director of Operations, she became the Executive Director in 2015. Her prior experience includes ecology/conservation work in Madagascar with the School for International Training (SIT); education and public health-focused Peace Corps service in Bangladesh; and capacity-building at a rural development NGO (Street Survivors India) in West Bengal, India, as a William J. Clinton Fellow with the American India Foundation. Ms. Kasparian holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations from Brown University and a Master's Degree in Public Administration, focused on International Public Service and Development, from Rutgers University.

Chef Matthew Varga, Executive Chef Gracie’s Restaurant
Chef Matthew Varga, Executive ChefChef Varga is from Connecticut, where he would spend his childhood days crabbing, fishing, and soaking in the aromas of his family’s busy kitchen. He began his culinary training by taking food and baking classes in high school, and started his first job in a restaurant at the age of 16. Chef Varga attended Johnson & Wales University, where he received his associate degree in culinary arts in 2003, and his bachelor’s degree in food service management in 2005.Chef Varga began working at Gracie’s in 2007 and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2010. Since then, Gracie’s has won the AAA four-diamond award five years straight and received three Diner’s Choice awards from Open Table. Chef Varga has been featured in Art Culinaire and as a guest chef for the Democratic Governors Association Taste of America gala.

Interactive Panel Discussion with Local Food Systems Experts

Ken Ayars, Chief of the Division of Agriculture and Resource Marketing of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM)

In a career spanning three decades with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Ken has served as a vital liaison to the state’s 1000 plus farmers on a range of issues including a host of complex environmental, regulatory, and viability matters. He has been an advocate of implementing best practices to assist farmers increase crop production and improve operations while protecting the environment and preserving farmland. Ken has played an essential role in raising the profile of farmers and commercial fishers in Rhode Island, advocate for the promotion of Rhode Island farm and seafood products and centering their contributions to the state’s burgeoning local food movement and a sustainable future. Ken received Bachelors of Science degrees from the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 1983 with majors in agriculture and resource technology and zoology. He received a Master of Science degree, majoring in plant science, from URI in 1985.

Marta Gómez-Chiarri, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Fisheries, Animal, and Veterinary Sciences, University of Rhode Island (URI)

Marta Gómez-Chiarri is a Professor at the University of Rhode Island (URI), where she has been since 1997. Marta earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain) in 1992. Previous to joining URI, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, where she worked with several aquatic species, including trout and abalone. Marta currently holds the position of Chair of the Department of Fisheries, Animal, and Veterinary Sciences. Marta also coordinates the undergraduate major in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, a major that explores the food chain, from farm to plate to waste and back, emphasizing sustainability, impacts on human health, and resilience from economic, environmental, and societal viewpoints. Marta’s research interests include the use of multidisciplinary approaches to the prevention and management of diseases in marine organisms. Her collaborative national and international research on marine diseases is driven by a desire to ensure equitable access to healthy food that is sustainably produced.

Chef Thomas J. (TJ) Delle Donne, Assistant Dean, Culinary Relations and Special Projects, Johnson & Wales University Chef Delle Donne is a Chef and culinary educator with a diverse and creative applied background. A certified Executive Chef (American Culinary Federation) Delle Donne’s professional experience includes serving as Executive Chef and Sous Chef in a range of institutions. He is part of a collaborative team that consults to the Food Innovation Nexus® (the FIX), a Rhode Island-based product and venture development enterprise innovating at the intersection of healthy food, design, and medicine. He was awarded Best Young Chef in the Northeast region by the Chaine des Rotisseurs. (the world’s oldest international gastronomic society, founded in Paris in 1248), and now sits on their board as their Conseiller Culinaire. He is a contributing writer and for Flavor & The Menu magazine, and Executive Chef for its annual conference. T.J. is also a contributing writer for 41 degrees north Magazine, Yankee magazine, and dinnertools.com.

At Johnson & Wales, as Assistant Dean, Culinary Relations and Special Projects, TJ spearheads corporate engagement programs. He is also an Associate Instructor, teaching classes in international cuisine, global cuisine, conscious cuisine, and is an avid faculty member in the Wellness & Sustainability program at the university. TJ earned both his Bachelor’s and MAT degrees at JWU.

Nessa J. Richman, MPP, Network Director, Rhode Island Food Policy

Nessa leads the Council in achieving its mission to promote an equitable, economically vibrant, and environmentally sustainable food system in Rhode Island. She works closely with the Council’s 25 volunteer members, state agencies, non-profit leaders, and other core partners to build coalitions that align resources, promote good food and agriculture policy, and execute high-impact projects and programs that fill critical gaps. Prior to joining the Council, Nessa founded and directed Brightseed Strategies, a consulting firm that worked on national projects related to increasing healthy food access for low-income households, increasing capital access for food systems enterprise and infrastructure, and building institutional markets for locally produced, harvested, and manufactured food.

Leonard Yui, AIA, LEED AP, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Sustainable Studies Minor Core Faculty, Roger Williams University

Professor Yui’s pedagogy emphasizes landscape thinking as a foundation for architectural design. He teaches regular graduate courses on Urban Ecological Design and Introduction to Landscape Architecture: Theory and Practice. Professor Yui’s recent work examines how sea level rise and climate change in the New England region can offer ecological design opportunities in the cultural landscape. This semester he is leading a graduate studio called: “Climate Justice in Rhode Island: Community Food Hubs + Coastal Ecologies wherein he and his students are working with Southside Community Land Trust as a local partner/ client.

Professor Yui is also a director of Wildish Design, which studies urban habitats and their ecological design potential for architectural and landscape interventions. He holds post-professional master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture and Architecture with an Ecological Design Certificate from the University of Oregon.

Panel Moderator Event organizer

Lisa J. Raiola, MPH, President & Founder, Hope & Main

Lisa is the founder of Hope & Main, a 501c3 that she launched in 2009 with a mission is to empower entrepreneurs of all means and backgrounds to build a stronger, more economically vibrant food system and a sustainable food future. Hope & Main provides affordable access to shared-use commercial kitchens, education and other technical resources to aspiring entrepreneurs enabling them to jump-start early stage food companies and food-related businesses. To date Hope & Main has launched 216 food businesses—including 45 graduates-- creating more than 500 jobs, and pouring millions of dollars into the local economy.

Lisa has more than 30 years of experience in program development, advancement, and business development in non-profit organizations in healthcare and higher education with a special focus on distributive justice, social responsibility, and economic development.

For nearly ten years, Lisa was the Vice President for Institutional Advancement for Roger Williams University and currently teaches Nutrition & Public Health at RWU in addition to serving on the Board of Trustees. Before RWU, Ms. Raiola was a Vice President at Brown University and a Clinical Assistant Professor for Community Health and Medical Ethics at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine. In addition, Ms. Raiola spent nine years with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Brookline, MA where she served as the Director of Organizational Development, Clinical Training and Quality Management. At Harvard Health she also founded and led the first formal Ethics Program in managed care in the country.

Ms. Raiola holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biomedical Ethics from Brown University and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from Boston University School of Medicine.

MC Event organizer

Avi Nevel President & Founder and CEO, RIIC

Avi Nevel is an entrepreneurial senior executive with more than 25 years of broad international business experience. He is skilled in strategic planning, business origination, management and expansion; and international sales and marketing. Mr. Nevel currently serves as President and CEO of Nevel International, a Providence-based international consulting firm, which he founded in 2006. He is also the President and CEO of the Rhode Island Israel Collaborative, RIIC, a non for profit Chamber of Commerce, which he founded in 2016. Prior to founding Nevel International, Mr. Nevel served as Co-owner, CEO, and President of Lawson-Hemphill, a manufacturer of precision instruments and quality control laboratory equipment for the textiles industry. His company’s products were sold worldwide. Mr. Nevel has received 12 U.S. and foreign patents, several awards for excellence in business, personal achievement, and exportation, and numerous prestigious board and committee appointments here and abroad. Among the accolades he has received are the Presidential “E” Award, in 1987, and the Presidential “E-STAR” Award in 1991, both from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the “Exporter of the Year” Award from the RI Small Business Administration in 2000 and the “Honor Award” in 2010 from the Consulate General of Israel to New England, for his remarkable work in supporting stronger economic collaboration between Israel & New England. Mr. Nevel served on the board of Shenkar College of Design and Engineering in Israel, was Chair of the Israel Task Force Committee at the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island, and is on the Executive Board of the New England Israel Business Council (NEIBC) and Rhode Island World Trade Day Committee and in 1997, was appointed member of the Connecticut/Rhode Island District Export Council. In 2012. Mr. Nevel was appointed as Vice Chair of the Rhode Island District Export Council, (RI DEC) and is an Executive Board Member of the Providence Chamber of Commerce.

Presenting Sponsors

Supporters and Sponsors

For Sponsorship Opportunity Information, Please Contact us at info@theriic.org

#FoodTech #Israel #RhodeIsland #HopeMain #RIIC #IsraelRhodeIsland #TammyMeiron #FreshStartFoodTechIncubator #ChefMattVargas #Gracies #GreenvaleWinery

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© 2017 The Rhode Island Israel Collaborative

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