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Heart & Hustle: Meet RC Show 2023’s All-Star Volunteers

10 of RC Show 2023’s top volunteers share their path to RC Show and top moments at the heart of the hustle.

From April 10-12 2023, the RC Show welcomed hundreds of volunteers who worked more than 1800 hours over the three jam-packed days of the Show. Many were students, gaining valuable hands-on experience while supporting the success of Canada’s leading Hospitality & Foodservice Expo. Their hard work behind the scenes made the RC Show possible.

“The purpose of the RC Show Volunteer Program is to create a safe environment for students to gain the confidence they need to be successful in the hospitality workforce,” said Melanie Retz, Registration and Events Manager. Retz also coordinated the volunteers. “It is with great pleasure that we see many of our students successfully gain employment in our industry through the connections they made while volunteering at RC Show.”

With support from Centennial College, Freehouse Collective, Push Operations, Jastex, Restaurant Leadership 101, and many of the Restaurants Canada Board members, the volunteers, who covered 420 shifts on stages and behind the scenes, in the VIP room, and all across the RC Show, had the opportunity to hone their skills, network with industry professionals and join a community of like-minded future leaders.

Restaurants Canada selected 10 volunteers who exemplify heart and hustle, and whose dedication, hard work, and innovative approach capture what makes the RC Show – and the foodservice industry in general – so wonderful.


Santosh Acharya is studying post-graduate Event Management at Centennial College. Passionate about learning and expanding his knowledge in foodservice, he heard about volunteer opportunities at the RC Show through his program coordinator and was immediately drawn to the chance to gain hands-on experience.

“Foodservice has lots of opportunities for those who are passionate about hospitality.” Santosh sees it as an emerging industry, with room for all kinds of exciting events. “The ability to create memorable experiences through food and hospitality is what drew me to my field of study. I am particularly interested in the concept of sustainable food service and the use of local ingredients. I would like to see more emphasis on sustainable practices and responsible sourcing in the foodservice industry.”

Santosh found the RC Show provided an incredible opportunity to gain hands-on experience and learn from industry experts. “As a volunteer, I was able to work alongside industry professionals and learn about the latest trends and technologies. I was particularly impressed by the variety of exhibitors and the breadth of knowledge available at the show. One of the biggest surprises for me was the level of organization and planning that went into the event. It was inspiring to see so many passionate people come together to make the RC Show a success.”

Geraldine Artillaga is a TV and Live Events Producer from the Philippines who recently relocated to Canada. Pursuing Culinary Management Studies at Conestoga College, she also works at Wildcraft Grill + Long Bar. 2023 was her second year of volunteering: she first learned about the event through Chef Philippe Saraiva. “I am grateful for his support and commitment to education, and promoting the growth and development of culinary enthusiasts”.

Geraldine’s love for cooking drew her to the field. “Chef Craig Gilbertson’s unwavering dedication inspired me to persist despite the challenges I faced after losing my sense of taste due to COVID.” She is enamored with every aspect of the industry, from building relationships with fellow chefs to gaining valuable experience working in different kitchens. However, she believes the industry can still improve in terms of gender equality. “As a woman in the culinary field, I hope to contribute to increasing the representation of women in commercial kitchens, not just as talented chefs, but also in leadership and management roles.”

“The RC Show is a remarkable tribute to the exceptional talents and achievements of chefs, restaurants, and organizations in the culinary and hospitality industries.” Geraldine particularly appreciated the Bocuse d’Or selection and Garland competition. “It was such an impressive display of culinary expertise and ingenuity by esteemed chefs, in the presence of distinguished and globally renowned judges. The talks and workshops from those judges were an added benefit. They generously shared their knowledge and ideas with the attendees.”



Melanie Cameron is a mom, a student, an entrepreneur, and food industry enthusiast. Currently wrapping up her final online semester of Baking and Pastry Arts Management at Centennial College, she secured a position at De La Terre Bakery and Café after her in-person work placement. Melanie volunteered at the RC Show 2022 and was thrilled to return.

“I love the versatility of the industry and the passion that we, foodservice professionals, bring to our roles. Creativity and innovation are at the heart of the industry and enable for an ever-changing opportunity to learn and evolve.” Melanie has been encouraged to see more women excelling in the industry, and appreciates how local bakeries, restaurants, and foodservice establishments are opting to provide their day’s “spoils” to local food banks and shelters.

“I was beyond thrilled that they had a “pastry day” at the culinary stage. Working behind the scenes of the culinary stage was the highlight of my experience.” Melanie was particularly delighted to perform the task of Chef Assistant in the Garland competition. “The four competitors were incredibly kind and down to earth and they took the time to get to know us volunteers, all while sharing their experiences and passion. I must commend the Restaurants Canada team for their care of us volunteers and their skilled preparations.”

Sergii Daragn’s journey in the hospitality industry started when he worked at a bar in Ukraine as a university student. He fell in love with the industry and realized this was what he wanted to do. “I came to Canada to finish my education in marketing and continued studying wines and spirits. I thought that in this way I could use my passion, skills, and knowledge to bring something new, inspire more people by promoting incredible things, and keep developing the hospitality industry.”

Sergii visited the RC Show last year and was astonished. “My first thought was, ‘I want to see how Restaurants Canada is organizing everything and help them.” He connected with a Restaurants Canada representative through the non-profit organization Les Dames d’Escoffier Ontario. “I shared with her my passion and asked if there was any chance to work at the RC Show. It was one of my dreams, to be a part of such a huge event, and it came true!”

Foodservice and hospitality are Sergii’s driving passions. “What I like the most about the industry is that it is like a big family where everyone is sharing happiness, and fun.”
His goal is to bring something new to the industry through food, drinks, and events. “Hopefully, in the future, I will have a chance to bring collaboration between the wine & spirits and food industries to an even higher level and find even more opportunities tocreate something incredible together.”



Mikhaela De Castro studied Resort Service and Hotel Operations Management at Fanshawe College. Presently, she works as a restaurant manager. “I’m always interested in learning new things and looking for volunteer opportunities that can help me progress in my job and broaden my expertise – that’s what led me to the RC Show.”

“When I arrived in Canada, I found my first job in the foodservice sector. It makes sense that a student should be able to find employment and support herself.” Mikhaela finds the foodservice industry exciting and challenging. “Though it may seem simple to some, it takes time and effort to be successful. The field constantly has fresh developments, and it can be difficult to keep up.”

Mikhaela found volunteering at the RC Show a highly educational and distinctive experience. So many people were involved and there were so many moving parts that came together to make an unforgettable experience. “The RC Show’s greatest highlights are how well everyone gets along with one another, and how much they care about the business they work for. Because the RC Show is new every year and has more wisdom and expertise for everyone who goes, I am always surprised and learning new things.”

Sahil Devgan is from Punjab, India, and has a Bachelor’s in Hotel Management and Catering Technology from Lovely Professional University and a postgraduate Certificate in Hotel Resort and Restaurant Management from Centennial College. He has worked in the hospitality industry for three years, specializing in the Food and Beverage Department. “I discovered the Restaurants Canada Show last year while studying at Centennial College and decided to volunteer. It was an excellent networking opportunity, as well as the opportunity to view the work before the event.”

Volunteering at the show was thrilling for Sahil. “It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. I was so delighted to see nearly every brand under one roof, and was astounded by the modern technology used in the food and beverage business.” He was particularly interested in the growing inclusion of plant-based cuisine. The cooking competitions were a pleasant surprise. “It was great to see chefs with so many abilities and skills. Particularly watching them make a chocolate masterpiece.”

“I am really interested in assisting people and transforming their moments into memories.” Aside from that, Sahil volunteered because he is interested in learning more about alcohol and food service. “The most satisfying component of food and beverage service is introducing customers to menu items, and making suggestions depending on the guests’ likes, ensuring they feel like they get value for their money.” He’s interested to see how the foodservice industry adapts the traditional approach to remuneration. “I believe that everyone gives their all in their respective professions and that a reward program should be established in hospitality businesses.”



Analiza Indiongco is a culinary student at Centennial College who is currently working at Oliver and Bonacini at Adelaide Toronto Board of Trust. She started there during her work-integrated learning segment and was hired on permanently afterwards. “I learned about the chance to volunteer at the RC Show from our school, and immediately emailed the organizer saying that I wanted to volunteer”.

In her home country, the Philippines, Analiza owned a food business for 10 years. “I came here to Canada to enhance my knowledge in the food industry. I like cooking and love food, and I am passionate to learn more about diverse kinds of dishes and food cultures. I like serving people and seeing them happy.”

Analiza enjoyed the chance to assist during the culinary competitions. “It was really a nerve-wracking experience. The stage is on fire, and it made me feel like I’m also one of the big Chefs competing. All the competitors did excellently – they had such talent!”

The chance for a student like herself to have such a successful engagement with a new Chef was both enjoyable and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “Volunteering is a great way to communicate with different people and make connections in different industries.”

Kevin Macwan is an international student from India who completed the culinary program at Centennial College and is currently working as a Chef at Dova Restaurant. He heard about the RC Show from one of his mentors, who explained about the opportunity to volunteer and gain experience in the culinary world.

“When I first arrived in 2021, I was a medical student at Seneca. But after completing my program I was not enjoying it at all. Apart from that, I was also deeply interested in the culinary field. My sister helped me to get into culinary school and that’s where my journey as a chef started. I like how you put all your emotions into creating and cooking all types of dishes, and putting smiles on people’s faces.”

“Volunteering at the RC Show was a blast!” Kevin’s chief highlight? Assisting Chef Shai-Ann Tyson, winner of the exciting Garland Canada Culinary competition, on stage. “The most shocking and surprising part for me was the chance to meet my idols like Chef Alvin Leung, Chef Eric Chong from MasterChef Canada, and oyster shucking champion Patrick McMurray.” In future, Kevin would like to see more competitions in culinary schools. “That will help to boost confidence which is an important part of a chef’s life.”



Emily Ramos is currently a 1st-year Culinary Management student at Conestoga College, who has worked in the food industry since she was 15. After hearing about the chance to volunteer at the RC Show through Chef Philippe Saravia, she made a last-minute decision to attend, but volunteer applications had closed. So, she reached out via Instagram, got in touch with Melanie Retz, who then helped her join as a volunteer.

“MasterChef Canada drew me into the field when I was younger. It was so interesting to see how complex and challenging food can be, how there were a lot more elements in play than I thought”. Learning more about food is what keeps Emily going. “I want to learn what goes into a plate. I want to hear the stories behind the dish from start to finish, listen to the chefs and their love of food and absorb that knowledge. That’s what I love about this industry.” She appreciated the opportunity to try so many great tastes at the RC Show, “especially the food truck with the churros. Being able to meet Wallace Wong – who is one of the chefs who inspires me in this field – was inspiring. Watching the Bocuse d’Or National selection and the World Pastry Cup National selections, I was surprised and impressed with how intricate and attentive the contestants were”.

The RC Show showed Emily that the foodservice industry is full of things to discover and talk about: good people and places, and more complex issues. “I’d like to see more balanced lives for chefs. We’re under so much pressure that mental health and well-being become the least of our priorities. I respect the heart and hustle, but, if that principle doesn’t apply to ourselves, I believe it will reflect the dish.”

Suyash Shetty is from Mumbai, India, the City of Lights. With undergraduate credentials in Hospitality and Tourism Management, he has also completed Global Hospitality and Business Development studies at Seneca College. Currently, he’s pursuing a degree in Event Management at Centennial College.

“I have a passion for cooking and enjoy the creative process of developing new dishes. I am also very interested in the business side of the industry, the management of finances and operations.” He learned about the RC Show at Centennial College, and was eager to volunteer. “I want to stay up to date with the latest technologies and innovations to remain competitive and meet customer demands.”

Suyash worked with the Marriott Group of Hotels in India, spending time in each core department. “The RC Show is the biggest event in Canada’s foodservice and hospitality industry: attending it as an event management student volunteer was an excellent opportunity to learn about event planning and management firsthand. The RC Show’s scale, scope, and complexity were surprising, but it offered valuable lessons on event planning, logistics, marketing, and operations.”


RC Show Volunteers

Volunteers are extremely important to the success of RC Show.

Restaurants Canada depends on the knowledge and vitality of students in hospitality programs to help elevate the attendees’ experience. Volunteering at RC Show provides hands-on learning so that students can form a foundation to build upon as they navigate their career in the hospitality industry. With various roles and responsibilities, volunteers will be immersed in the world of live events and be exposed to the industry like never before.

RC Show 2024 Volunteer Applications:

Volunteer applications open November 2023 for culinary, event and other hospitality students aged 19+.

Applicants can visit the RC Show website:, and apply directly through the website.

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