Our Team



Karen Gelbart, National Chair
Karen Gelbart is a Toronto media consultant with a long and distinguished career in journalism and broadcasting. In her last corporate role, she assumed responsibility for Shaw Media’s most popular television channels: HGTV, Food Network, Slice, DIY, Twist TV, BBC Canada, and BBC Kids.


Karen Baxter, Executive Director
With an MBA in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Karen Baxter brings her expertise in event management, public relations and fundraising to Taste Canada. She is a driving force behind Taste Canada’s project management and industry liaison, including building sustainable and long-term industry partnerships, logistics planning, management of the Board of Directors, budget control, organizational financial planning, event planning along with overseeing the details of the gala presentation ceremony, and its affiliated student cooking competition—Canada Cooks the Books.


Maureen O’Connor, English-Language Chair
Maureen O’Connor spent thirty-five years as a public librarian, specializing in reference and readers’ advisory. Author of two reference books, she continues to indulge her love of books in her position as Chair of the English-Language Committees of Taste Canada—The Food Writing Awards. Her continuing experience as an editor also contributes to her position with Taste Canada. Living in a rural community puts her in close touch with food sources and foodies, another delightful connection in her work with Taste Canada.


Jean-François Lacroix, French-Language Chair

Jean-François Lacroix is a professional chef, teaching cooking and pastry chef courses at Fierbourg, a vocational training center in Quebec City. He makes frequent appearances on Radio-Canada. His involvement with Taste Canada, formerly the Canadian Culinary Book Awards, goes back almost ten years.  In 2004, he co-authored a cookbook called Gastronomy and the Forest, which won him two gold awards:  in the French-language Cookbook category and the Canadian Culinary Culture category.  A few years later, he joined the book awards team as a judge and committee coordinator.

Jean-François Lacroix est cuisinier de formation. Il a enseigné la cuisine et la pâtisserie à Fierbourg, centre de formation professionnelle de Québec durant plusieurs années. Il fait de fréquentes interventions à la radio de Radio-Canada à Québec. Il est coauteur du livre Gastronomie et forêt, double lauréat or catégories livres de recettes et livres faisant la promotion de la culture alimentaire canadienne de l’édition 2004 du concours de livres de recettes de Cuisine Canada. Il a été juge et coordonnateur de ce même concours.


Sabrina Falone, Stage Manager—Taste Canada Cooks the Books
Sabrina is a professionally trained chef with a degree from Liaison College of Culinary Arts. After graduating from culinary school, she augmented her education by attending the food writing program at George Brown College. Her experience in both the food service and food writing fields, along with her passion for recipe development and food styling, make Sabrina a very valuable member of the Taste Canada team.



Charmian Christie
, Slideshow Producer and Web Content
With an MA in Journalism from Australia’s University of Wollongong and an extensive writing portfolio, Charmian Christie loves words as much as food. When she’s not developing the next big iPhone app or blogging at The Messy Baker, she writes for a variety of publications both in print and online. Her first cookbook, The Messy Baker: More than 75 Delicious Recipes from a Real Kitchen, is published by HarperCollins © 2014.

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