In 2014, the SFA selected the first class of Smith Symposium Fellows. The program, underwritten by a gift from Pam and Brook Smith, invites individuals whose work promises a positive impact on the southern region and its foodways to be guests at the annual fall symposium.

2017 Smith Symposium Fellow: Hally Chirinos

Hally Chirinos grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, working the register at her parents’ (Henry and Delmi Chirinos) restaurant El Pulgarcito, where her Salvadoran and Honduran heritage combined to keep locals coming back week after week. Her parents created a menu that offers Honduran, Salvadoran, and Mexican favorites. Customers come in seeking Central American staples … Continued

2017 Smith Symposium Fellow: Ashanté Reese

Ashanté M. Reese is assistant professor of anthropology at Spelman College. She completed her Doctorate in anthropology (with a specialization in race, gender, and social justice) at American University in 2015 where she also earned a Masters in Public Anthropology in 2013. Her dissertation explored the historical connections between race, class, and the decline of … Continued

2017 Smith Symposium Fellow: Adante Hart

Adante Hart is a graduate student in the Master of Public Health in Nutrition/Registered Dietitian training program at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill. He also serves as an Ambassador for the Oldways African Heritage and Health Program, leading educational and culinary efforts focused on foods of the African Diaspora. … Continued

2017 Smith Symposium Fellow: Devita Davison

As the Executive Director of FoodLab Detroit, Devita Davison combines her passion for culinary arts with activism and social entrepreneurship. FoodLab is a membership based, non-profit organization with a mission to cultivate a community of food entrepreneurs who aspire to use the power of business to solve some of Detroit’s more challenging social and environmental … Continued

2017 Smith Symposium Fellow: Rosalind Bentley

A long-time journalist, Rosalind Bentley is focused on the stories of African American kitchens that have served as hubs for nurturing resistance movements. A native of Florida’s panhandle, with roots there that predate the Civil War, she is also studying the impact of rural land loss on African American families. Hear Rosalind Bentley’s Gravy podcast … Continued

2016 Smith Symposium Fellow: Cecilia Polanco

The summer of her junior year, Cecilia launched the food truck and catering company So Good Pupusas and started filling pupusa catering orders at UNC. She works with members of her family and UNC undergraduates who volunteer their time for the mission of So Good Pupusas to create a scholarship fund for undocumented students pursuing their undergraduate degrees.

2016 Smith Symposium Fellow: Von Diaz

Von’s forthcoming cookbook, Gordita: Craving Puerto Rico, uses storytelling and recipes to explore the colonial and contemporary history of the island, the legacy of African slavery in the Caribbean, and the ongoing cultural exchange between Puerto Rico and the mainland.

2016 Smith Symposium Fellow: Tunde Wey

Tunde Wey is a writer and chef from Nigeria currently living in New Orleans. He has created notable food concepts in Detroit and New Orleans and facilitates a traveling dinner and dialogue dinner series exploring Blackness in America.

2015 Smith Symposium Fellow: Steven Alvarez

Steven Alvarez is assistant professor of English at St. John’s University. His teaching and research explore the histories and networks of Mexican and Mexican American food in the United States demonstrating how transnational communities sustain emotional connections and local relationships among individuals building publics across borders.