At CEO (Boardroom Media) we track over 1,000,000 startups and over 5,000,000 people who hold key positions in these companies. We use this directory of startups to highlight top employees, founders and board members we think deserve more appreciation than they are currently getting.
This list showcases the top Illinois based CEO’ operating in the Food and Beverage space. If you think a CEO’ is missing from this list, feel free to contact our editor on [email protected]
The individuals on this list have been included because of exceptional performance in one of the following categories:
- Innovation – Operating as a key part in an extremely innovative business or startup.
- Growth – Operating as a key figure in the growth and upscale of a market leading business or startup.
- Management – Showing exceptional management skills.
- Societal impact – Putting their business on the map for their positive societal or environmental impact.
Our Data – We source our data from OSINT (open source intelligence) and public directories such as Crunchbase, SemRush and many more. The data from these sources should be treated with a degree of caution and verified yourself.
Chief Executive Officer of Ferrara Candy
Todd Siwak is CEO of the Ferrara Candy Company. Prior to joining Ferrara, he was an operating partner at Catterton Partners, one of the largest consumer-focused private equity groups in the United States. He brings to Ferrara a wealth of leadership experience in sales, marketing, operations, and management, with a specific focus on the consumer packaged-goods industry. Todd’s career has been defined by his entrepreneurial spirit, which has led him to build several companies that have experienced quick and dramatic growth. Before joining Catterton, Todd was co-founder of TRG Accessories, an international manufacturer and distributor of travel gear and accessories (global licensee for Swiss Army, Timberland, Callaway Golf); Verimetrix, a developer, manufacturer, and supplier of diagnostic medical equipment; and Mindseye Group, a boutique private equity firm with a focus on consumer and health care companies. He began his career as Executive Vice President of Paramount Headwear, where, under his sales leadership, the company quadrupled in size and became the largest headwear manufacturer in North America. In 2002, Todd was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He holds a J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law and a B.S. in economics from the University of Missouri- Columbia.
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About Ferrara Candy: Ferrara Candy is virtual tours of the making of Lemonheads, Red Hots, Gummies, Jawbusters, Boston Baked Beans and Atomic Fireballs.
President and CEO of McDonald’s
With an eye toward delivering a modern, progressive customer experience, Chris Kempczinski oversees strategy, planning and new concept innovation for McDonald’s. His role is to serve the business units and franchisees by identifying new ideas and best practices to accelerate their growth and grow the overall value of the system. Kempczinski has significant experience in strategy and operations with some of the world’s leading consumer companies, including Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and most recently, Kraft Heinz. He has a proven track record of driving transformative change, which is invaluable as McDonald’s evolves its restaurant experience and business model to consistently deliver top-tier shareholder returns. Most recently, Kempczinski was Executive Vice President of Growth Initiatives and President of Kraft International, where he oversaw Kraft’s global corporate growth agenda and was responsible for driving the business in 80 countries outside of the United States, making up roughly $3 billion in net revenue. Kempczinski has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in public policy and economics from Duke University.
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About McDonald’s: McDonald’s is a global foodservice retailer generating revenue through company-owned restaurants, franchise royalties, and licensing pacts.
Founder and CEO of Cleveland Avenue
As President and Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE: MCD), Don Thompson leads the world’s largest foodservice company. McDonald’s serves 70 million customers everyday in more than 100 countries and employs 1.8 million people across the globe in corporate and restaurant positions. During his 23 years at McDonald’s, Thompson has helped drive business results and global strategic innovation across the organization. Since joining as an electrical engineer in 1990, he has held a variety of key leadership positions within the company including Regional Vice President, Division President and Chief Operating Officer. Between 2006 and 2010, Thompson served as President of McDonald’s USA, the company’s largest business segment. Most recently as President and COO of McDonald’s Corporation, Thompson and his leadership team established three global growth priorities in support of the McDonald’s Plan to Win: to optimize the menu, modernize the customer experience and broaden restaurant accessibility. In July 2012, Thompson became President and CEO and is leading the company on its mission to become “our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.” A true advocate of collaboration and believer in the strength of the McDonald’s three legged stool, Thompson and his leadership team work closely with the 5,000 independent owner/operators, corporate staff and restaurant employees around the world as well as countless McDonald’s suppliers. A leader in the business community, Don serves on the Board of Directors for McDonald’s Corporation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Catalyst, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Purdue University. Thompson also serves as a member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, The Economic Club, World Business Chicago and the Brazier Foundation. Thompson has been recognized for his leadership and passion by the Illinois Holocaust Museum (2012 Humanitarian Award), the Executive Leadership Council (2010 Corporate Award), the Trumpet Foundation (2008 Corporate Executive Award), and Black Enterprise (2007 Corporate Executive of the Year). Thompson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and an honorary Doctorate in Science degree from Excelsior College. Thompson resides in the Chicagoland area with his wife and two children.
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About Cleveland Avenue: Cleveland Avenue is a Chicago-based venture fund and accelerator that invests in food, beverage, and tech businesses.
CEO and Founder of Cleveland Avenue
Don celebrates people and drives results. His 25-year ascension through the ranks of McDonald’s Corporation to become its President and CEO is one of the most respected career trajectories in corporate America. An electrical engineer by education and trade, Don approached his leadership of the world’s largest restaurant chain in a strategically methodical manner, while still embracing the warmth and enthusiasm of the dynamic teams around the world. He’s a heart leader with a head for serious business, as evidenced by his achievements such as developing the global platforms for the company’s beverages, sustainability and digital initiatives. In 2015, Don left McDonald’s to form Cleveland Avenue, LLC, bringing together his vast restaurant expertise and engineering experience with his passion for innovation, digital trends and startup concepts. Don leads the CA team in bringing creative and consumer-focused restaurant, food and beverage ideas to reality. Don is committed to mentoring others, fueled by his foundation in faith, family and community. Not to be outdone by the culinary geniuses he regularly encounters, Don occasionally dons a chef’s hat of his own, and enjoys cooking for family and friends.
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About Cleveland Avenue: Cleveland Avenue is a Chicago-based venture fund and accelerator that invests in food, beverage, and tech businesses.
Co-Founder & CEO of L3 Hospitality Group
Carey is our CEO Extraordinaire. His early success as president of Redi Cut Foods, the largest regional processor of vegetables, made him a supply chain expert. His entrepreneurial spirit has only grown since then and nothing has brought him as much professional joy as becoming a restaurateur. We refer to him as Mr. Positive. He’s the go-to guy in his community and at work… not to mention he can tell you the origin of an avocado by the way it spins on the table.
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About L3 Hospitality Group: L3 Hospitality Group is a restaurant operating company.
Founder & CEO of Provi
Taylor Katzman is the Founder and CEO of Provi.
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About Provi: Provi is a communication platform that simplifies the operations for bars, restaurants, and retailers in ordering booze.
Founder and CEO of Home Chef
Follow Pat Vihtelic:
About Home Chef: Home Chef is a provider of subscription-based meal kit delivery services to help people to save time while enjoying home cooking.
Founder & CEO of Tovala
David is our co-founder and CEO. He’s a self-professed food nut with an MBA from Chicago Booth. Before starting Tovala, he worked for the co-founder and CEO of Veggie Grill and ran Groovy Spoon – a bi-coastal chain of frozen yogurt stores. He also spent time working at Google and Foundation Capital. His favorite ingredient is avocado.
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About Tovala: Tovala is a food-tech company that offers a meal service paired with a countertop smart oven.
CEO/Founder & Chief Health & Wellness Strategist of Factor_
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About Factor_, Factor_: Factor is a subscription-based prepared meal delivery service that delivers dietitian-designed, chef-crafted meals.
Co-Founder & CEO of Nature’s Fynd
Thomas Jonas is a Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Nature’s Fynd.
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About Nature’s Fynd: Nature’s Fynd is a food company that makes nutritional vegan protein from a microbe.
Founder & CEO of Fooda
Orazio Buzza is a Co-Founder at Fooda, Inc. He served as President & Chief Operating Officer of Echo Global Logistics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ECHO), from May 2005 until August 2010. From October 2003 to May 2005, he was the CFO and COO of InnerWorkings, Inc. (Nasdaq: INWK). From July 2001 to September 2003, Orazio was Vice President of Finance and Operations at Bus Bank, an online provider of charter bus services. He received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Supply Chain Management from the University of Illinois, and he is also a CPA.
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About Fooda: Fooda is a food technology platform that connects restaurants to people while at work.
Founder and CEO of Farmer’s Fridge
Luke Saunders is the founder and CEO of Farmer’s Fridge.
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About Farmer’s Fridge, Food Foundry: Farmer’s Fridge provides an automated smart fridge that serves salads, bowls, snacks, and more.
co-CEO of JiMMYBAR Natural Foods
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About IU Ventures, JiMMYBAR Natural Foods: Leading natural foods company that develops and markets clean protein bars.
Co-Founder & CEO of Open Water
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About Open Water: Sustainable packaging for plastic-free oceans
CEO of Tock
Follow Nick Kokonas:
About Alinea Restaurant, Tock: Tock is a cloud-based platform with flexible data structures that provide comprehensive restaurant and event booking services.
President and CEO of Stampede Meat
Brock Furlong has been in the food industry for 25 years. He started his career with a focus primarily on the marketing and sales functions securing his training from companies such as The Quaker Oats Company (1990 to 1994) and Pillsbury (1995 to 1998). He left Pillsbury as VP of Marketing to join Maple Leaf Meats, a $5B international meat and bakery company head quartered in Toronto, Canada. Brock joined as SVP of Marketing and R&D directing the activities of over 60 professionals across fresh and further processed pork and beef. Within 3 months of joining Maple Leaf the Food Service sales function was added to his responsibilities along with the leadership of a number of critical acquisitions. In October of 1999 Brock was promoted to the position of President, Maple Leaf Poultry. This company became the largest poultry company in Canada growing from $270M in sales to over $600M in the 5 years Brock acted as President. The company serviced all major restaurants and retail customers in Canada and a number of significant US customers as well. In early 2005 Brock was asked to assume the President role of the Frozen Bakery division of Maple Leaf that was headquartered in Chicago serving major Food Service restaurants throughout North America. The business grew to $350M in the 2.5 years Brock lead the company. In 2008, Brock’s family made the decision that the nearly constant travel needed to come to an end and he left Maple Leaf after 10 years to start a gourmet protein company making high end burgers, sausages and meatballs. The business grew rapidly over the course of the next 3 years serving the Food Service, Industrial and Retail business segments.
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About Stampede Meat: Stampede Meat produces and sells beef, pork, and chicken products.
Founder & CEO of Vital Proteins
Follow Kurt Seidensticker:
About Vital Proteins: Vital Proteins engages in providing natural, whole food proteins that support animal well-being and sustainable eco-friendly practices.
Chairman and CEO of US Foods
Follow Pietro Satriano:
About US Foods: US Foods is a foodservice distributor that provides its customers with innovative food offerings and a suite of business solutions.
Founder and CEO of Bartesian
Ryan Close is the CEO & Founder of Bartesian.
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About Bartesian: Bartesian offers a capsule-based machine that enables individuals to make homemade cocktails.
Co-Founder & CEO of Grubhub
Matt Maloney is a Co-Founder & CEO at Grubhub company.
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About Grubhub: Grubhub is a online and mobile food ordering and delivery marketplace dedicated to connecting diners with local restaurants.
Andrew J. Lansing
President and Chief Executive Officer of Levy Restaurants
Andy Lansing is President and Chief Executive Officer of Levy. Under his leadership, Levy has topped over 200 locations in North America and around the world, with more than 35,000 team members delivering Levy’s signature hospitality to guests. Andy began his career with Levy in 1988 as Vice President and General Counsel, overseeing and directing legal affairs for the Company. He was promoted to Executive Vice President for Levy in 1991, and President and Chief Operating Officer in 1995. In his tenure, Andy has directed, managed and actively recruited the industry’s top specialists to become part of Levy’s team and foster the Company’s strategic growth. In 2004, Andy was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer.
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About Levy Restaurants: Levy Restaurants is a hospitality company that runs restaurants and vending machines in entertainment and sporting venues.
Founder and CEO of Menu3
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About Menu3: Menu3 is a software company that develops 3D enabled products and platforms.
CEO, Founder of PRE Brands
Follow Lenny Lebovich:
About PRE Brands: PRE Brands is a food processing company that specializes in providing grass-fed and finished beef products.
Co-Founder and CEO of Chowly
Follow Sterling Douglass:
About Chowly, Chowly: Chowly provides innovative tech solutions to connect restaurant POS platforms with third-party online ordering solutions.
CEO/Co-Founder of Vroom Delivery
John Nelson joined Vroom Delivery as CEO, Founder in 2016.Mr. Nelson holds an MBA from University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business with concentrations in both finance and entrepreneurship and an undergraduate degree in Economics from Rice University. Previously, Mr. Nelson co-founded a successful online educational business, UniversityTutor.com and has five years’ experience in private equity while at Oakwood Global Finance in London, England.
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About Vroom Delivery: Vroom Delivery is the first eCommerce platform specifically designed for the $233B convenience store industry
Founder and CEO of Instabids
Follow KK Kotapati:
About 1871, Instabids, The Real Reputation: Instabids is a mobile app that allows the restaurants to bid, select the best instant discount expercience for diners.
Co-Founder & CEO of Koia
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About Koia, Phusion Projects: Koia is a food and beverage company that specializes in manufacturing plant protein drinks.
CEO of Here Holdings
Follow Nathan Laurell:
About ampCNG, Here Holdings, New Frontier Holdings, R2 Companies, The Fresh Factory: Here Holdings creates food and beverage products in Illinois using Midwest produce.
Co-Founder & CEO of OjaExpress
Follow Boyede Sobitan:
About OjaExpress: OjaExpress is an ecommerce company that offers a digital marketplace for cultural groceries.
President & CEO of Lancaster Colony Corporation
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About Lancaster Colony Corporation: Lancaster Colony Corporation is a manufacturer and marketer of specialty food products for the retail and foodservice markets.
Randall J Skoda
President & Chief Executive Officer of Topco Associates
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About Topco Associates: Topco Associates is a provider of an innovative business solutions for its food industry member-owners and customers.
Founder & CEO of Grablr
Alex is the founder of Grablr, a marketplace app for unsold food at a discount in Chicago, Illinois. He is involved in the startup community in Chicago for mobile development, entrepreneurship, and building marketplaces. While starting Grablr, Alex has worked in the IT industry for 7 years managing and supporting hardware and software in the finance industry. He studied marketing at Eastern Illinois University and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.
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About Grablr: Delivery of food, beverage, and merchandise to your seat at stadiums.
Founder & CEO of Simple Mills
Katlin Smith In 2013, CEO of Simple Mills developed the innovative baking mixes after discovering the benefits of clean eating firsthand.Four years later Simple Mills is the #1 natural baking mix brand in dollar sales per point of distribution (in a field of 75), and is the fastest-growing brand in the category.
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About Simple Mills: Delicious and nutrient-rich better for you snacks, crackers and baking mixes made of simple ingredients you’ll fall in love with!
Co-founder & CEO of Banyan Technologies, Inc.
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About Banyan Technologies, Inc.: B2B local food e-commerce platform
President & CEO of Protein2o
Bob is Protein2o’s President & CEO.
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About Protein2o: Protein2o provides drinks that promote a healthy, active lifestyle through the daily use of protein.
Founder and CEO of Nomwell
Follow Ryan Mattison:
About Nomwell: Nomwell makes it easy to find restaurants you’ll love. Remember recommendations, share favorites, and find spots loved by your inner circle.
Founder & CEO of Chopbox
Jordan is a food entrepreneur inspired by his family to bring people back around the dinner table for fresh cooked meals. Prior to ChopBox, Jordan co-founded a food start-up that delivered fresh prepared lunches to local Chicago businesses. Jordan is an avid food enthusiast, and wants to make delicious food accessible to more people.
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About Chopbox: Chopbox is a ready-to-cook meal delivery service that offers a wide variety of recipes.
CEO of Hickory Farms
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About Hickory Farms: Hickory Farms is an American specialty foods company.
Founder & CEO of Xoca World
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About Xoca World: Xoca World is a beverage company.
Co-Founder and CEO of FoodBoss
Michael DiBenedetto is the Co-Founder and CEO at FoodBoss.
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About FoodBoss: FoodBoss is an all in one online food and alcohol delivery search engine that comprises data from food services companies.
CEO of Cojean International
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About Cojean International: Cojean International operates a juice bar and healthy eating restaurant as well as a lifestyle blog.
CEO of Tiesta Tea
Follow Dan Klein:
About Tiesta Tea: Tiesta Tea is a provider of tea of various flavors that blends to fit every taste and lifestyle.
President & CEO of COCO5
Follow Scott Sandler:
About COCO5: COCO5 offers a sports drink brand with hydration benefits, naturally occurring electrolytes, and no artificial ingredients.