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Taste of Playa 2013 Executive Committee
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Ellen De Jonge
Ellen deJonge

Ellen de Jonge was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and came to Playa del Carmen in 2001. In the Netherlands, after a successful swimming career, she studied sports and became a swim teacher/coach, specializing in aqua fit sports. Through this course of study, she discovered her love for Yoga, which she has been studying for the past seven years. While studying yoga, Ellen worked at the world famous Tequila Barrel and there met many of the diverse residents of Playa del Carmen. She is now the proud owner of "Yoga by the Way" and is busy teaching, training new instructors and giving workshops. Ellen continues her study of yoga with the big masters and often participates in teacher trainings to keep on deepen her knowledge. She is also interested in the study of nutrition, Yoga science and therapy. Ellen was a volunteer for Taste of Playa 2009 and is pleased to join the Executive Committee as the Volunteer Chairperson for Taste of Playa 2010.

Gaby Waldert
gaby_waldert

After graduating from University in Germany, Gabi dedicated herself to a gratifying but challenging career as a social worker, counseling drug addicts in her home country. Her attention to detail and creative abilities were perfected while organizing music festivals in her hometown. Looking to broaden her horizons, Gabi relocated to Playa del Carmen in 2001 where she owns an online travel agency for Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya for the German tourist market www.mexiko-mexiko.de. Gabi also is General Director of Playa Rentals www.playa-rentals.com, a real estate agency, specialized in Long Term Rentals (6 months and longer) and Property Management for Playa del Carmen. Gabi loves to spend her time with her Mexican and foreign friends from all over the world, enjoying the beauty of this small cosmopolitan town at the shores of the Caribbean. Her unique perspectives and organizational skills have made her a welcome addition to the Taste of Playa team, heading up the Restaurant and Graphics Executive Committee. Gabi is with Taste of Playa since the beginning in 2009.

Monica Hartlief
monica_hartlief
Monica comes to Playa del Carmen from Holland by way of Aruba, Jamaica, Hong Kong, and Australia. After finishing her studies in political science at the University of Amsterdam, she travelled extensively before settling into the world of recruiting and telecommunications. After moving to Playa del Carmen in 1999, Monica started her own business, The Dive Company, which organizes scuba instruction and dive trips for visitors to the Riviera Maya. In 2006 Monica expanded her business model and formed Latido de Mexico, an all-inclusive property management company offering comprehensive property management services for all types of properties and vacation rentals. Monica's business experience and commitment to the Playa del Carmen community make her a vital member of the Taste of Playa team as the Chairperson of the Executive Committee.
Sherry Stevens
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Born and raised in Evansville, Indiana, Sherry studied Interior Design, Graphics and Marketing at the University of Kentucky and competed in Championship level equestrian events. Upon graduation, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia to begin her own mail order company, Scintilla, representing designers and craftsmen of artisan lighting, home décor and jewelry, a creative career which helped polish her entrepreneurial acuity. Looking for a change of lifestyle, Sherry moved to Playa del Carmen in 2001 where she co-owns a web based travel planning company and is a Real Estate Advisor in the area. Sherry is passionate about animals and dedicates herself to supporting local non-profits such as Coco's Cat Rescue. She is also the regional organizer for the annual V.I.D.A.S. clinic, an animal sterilization initiative offered free of charge to the residents of Playa del Carmen. Sherry's commitment to the community combined with her experience in heading a committee for the first two years of Taste of Playa make her a perfect fit to co-chair the Restaurant Committee for the event this year.

Susan DeLima

SusandeLima

Susan, originally from Canada, has lived in Playa del Carmen for over 6 years. With years of experience in the service industry, entertaining friends and family Susan welcomed the challenge of living and working in a foreign country! Having experience with a variety of food types and genres of cooking she has now developed her menus with original recipes that reflect her style of cooking with the fresh flavors of Mexico. She is a wonderful chef, hostess and a fountain of knowledge about tours, activities and dining in the area. Susan has been featured in ANNA Magazine www.annamagazine.com and is the Director of Operations for the Taste of Playa www.tasteofplaya.com for 2 years. Therefore it was only natural that she combined all these characteristics to create a top notch catering, events and concierge service aptly named UNO!

Mitch Gour
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Mitch Gour, originally from Edmonton Alberta, joins the Taste of Playa Executive Committee after retiring early from a successful career in Finance and Business Management in the Canadian recreation vehicle and auto industries. After living for awhile in San Pedro Belize, she and her partner Sev, found their way north to Playa del Carmen. After building a home and putting down some roots in Mexico, the Riviera Maya is now home base for her continuing global adventures and travel writing. Mitch has traveled all over the world, sampling the cultures and cuisines of dozens of countries. She returns to the Executive Committee in 2012 for her third year as the Sponsorship Chairperson.

Tracy Redwood
Tracy Redwood

Tracy Redwood, entrepreneur and principal in Luxury Glass Doors LLC, www.LuxuryGlassDoors.com moved to Playa del Carmen with her husband and business partner Georgios Apostolidis in 2006. Her 15 years in the heart of the entertainment industry producing ad campaigns and providing set design for brands like Mercedes, Cadillac, BMW, Sony, Coors Lite and Nextel, evolved into her own highly viewed HGTV Design show in 1998, which aired for more than five years. Born in Nigeria, Tracy has a yen for travel. This love, coupled with her education in design from Fairfield University provided the impetus to follow through with the creation of Luxury Glass Doors which has developed an enviable brand clientele that includes hospitality brands like the Ritz Carlton, Capella-Bahia Maroma, Starwood and others.

As an expat in Playa, Tracy quickly developed friendships and joined the Taste ofPlaya team in 2010. She first joined as a sponsor volunteer and this year she has become part of the marketing and sponsorship committees. The time and effort Tracy puts into the event will certainly help in making it even more successful in 2012!

Armando Elizalde
armando2

After 2 years of Majoring in Business studies at the Tec. De Monterrey Campus Guadalajara, Armando Elizalde moved to Playa del Carmen in 1995, in order to live in paradise and work in tourism. Upon arrival, he started a new career and ventured into cave diving. Over the years, this brought him to become an important part of the local leadership that created a 60+ strong divers’ association, for the purpose of protecting the reefs, cenotes and mangroves in the region. While Armando is now retired from cave diving, he continues the environmental activism and runs scubacenote.com as a cavern diving information website.

Currently, Armando writes for Mexican Caribbean Today, a website publishing coverage of Quintana Roo in English. Armando has traveled to over 13 countries on 3 continents, and he has been on both sides of the fence when it comes to tourism.

Armando also volunteers his time to help Playa del Carmen’s gastronomic community, as he did functioning as the finances executive of Taste of Playa 2010; and now he is back for Taste of Playa 2012.