2018 Southern Foodways Symposium
Program Guests

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Annemarie Anderson is SFA’s oral historian. In ten months, she has visited seven states to gather the stories of female food journalists.

Lindsay Autry is the chef of The Regional in West Palm Beach, Florida. She’s a native of North Carolina and a graduate of Johnson & Wales University.

Mashama Bailey is the chef and co-owner of The Grey in Savannah. Growing up, she traveled south from her native New York City to spend summers with her grandmother in Waynesboro, Georgia.

Sandra Beasley is the Washington, DC­–based author of three collections of poetry and one memoir about food allergies. She is the editor of Vinegar & Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Valerie BoydValerie Boyd is the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence and an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism. The author of Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, she is currently editing the journals of Alice Walker.

Paul Burch is a Nashville-based Americana musician and songwriter. His 2016 album, Meridian Rising, is an imagined autobiography of Jimmie Rodgers.

Andy Chabot is food and beverage director as well as the sommelier at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. In 2017, Knoxville Business Journal named Chabot one of its “40 Under 40” young leaders.

Katherine Clark was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after her mother went into labor at an Alabama homecoming football game. She is the author of four novels and three as-told-to biographies, including one about Eugene Walter.

Nina Compton is the chef at Compère Lapin in New Orleans. A native of St. Lucia, she named the restaurant after the mischevious “Brother Rabbit” of Caribbean folktales.

Paul Fehribach is the chef at Big Jones in Chicago. A native of southern Indiana, he is a spiritual and culinary Southerner.

Kelly Fields is the chef of Willa Jean, a bakery and café in New Orleans, where she turns out next-level biscuits and sates the continuing thirst for frosé. She is a 2018 fellow in the James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program.

Multimedia installation artists Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom make up the collective Ghost of a Dream. They once built a replica Hummer H3 from discarded lottery tickets.

Bill Griffith is the curator of Rowan Oak, the former home of William Faulkner in Oxford, Mississippi. As a teenager, he once commandeered a milk truck from his family’s dairy farm to go to an Ozzy Osborne concert.

James Hannaham is the author of two novels: God Says No and Delicious Foods, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. He teaches writing at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

Derrick Harriell is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Stripper in Wonderland. He directs the MFA program at the University of Mississippi.

Lynn and Debbie Hewlett of Taylor Grocery are, according to many, the nation’s premier fryers of catfish.

Ravi Howard is the author of two novels, the first of which, Like Trees, Walking, won the 2008 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

Meherwan Irani is the chef of Chai Pani, with locations in Decatur, Georgia, and Asheville, North Carolina. He is a member of the “Desi Dream Team,” a group of South Asian American chefs who host the Brown in the South dinner series.

Randall Kenan is a writer of fiction and nonfiction who teaches creative writing at UNC-Chapel Hill. He spoke on hog fornication at the SFA’s 2012 barbecue symposium.

John Kessler is the former restaurant critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Shortly after relocating to Chicago, he wrote about “Pimento Cheese in a Parka” and other Windy City attempts at Southern food for Gravy.

Dan Latham is a salumist, restaurateur, and chef. Oxonians still miss L&M, the Italian restaurant he shuttered in 2008, but as of late they can drown their sorrows at Saint Leo, where he developed the menu with owner Emily Blount.

Ava Lowrey is SFA’s Pihakis Documentary Filmmaker. To the dismay of many of her coworkers, she is a fan of Alabama football and Duke basketball.

Van Nolintha is the owner of Brewery Bhavana and Bida Manda in Raleigh, North Carolina. A native of Luang Prabang, Laos, he moved to North Carolina at the age of twelve to live with family friends and attend school.

Ashanté Reese is an SFA Smith Symposium Fellow. She earned her PhD in anthropology at American University and teaches courses in anthropology and food studies at Spelman College.

Zandria Robinson, a native Memphian, teaches sociology at Rhodes College. She is the author of This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South.

Naben Ruthnum, the author of Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race, lives in Toronto, Ontario. His most recent book is the thriller Find You in the Dark, written under the pseudonym Nathan Ripley.

John Simpkins is a lawyer, diplomatic consultant, and political analyst. He co-founded the Center for a Better South and serves on the SFA’s John Egerton Prize committee.

Joe Stinchcomb directs the bar program at Saint Leo in Oxford, Mississippi. A master of balance, he makes some of Oxford’s best cocktails.

Miguel Torres is chef de cuisine at Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A native of Celaya, Guanajato, Torres blends Asian flavors with North Carolina ingredients.

Monique Truong is the author of two novels, Bitter in the Mouth and The Book of Salt. She is at work on a third, The Sweetest Fruits, whose main character is the nineteenth-century journalist Lafcadio Hearn.

Monica White is an associate professor of environmental justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research explores agricultural resistance, food insecurity, and the agricultural dimension of the African American freedom movement from the Reconstruction era to the present.

Jessica Wilkerson teaches history and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. She is at work on a book about feminist activism in the Appalachian South.

Cynthia Wong created the cult-favorite phatty cake, a gingerbread cookie sandwich with mascarpone cream filling. Her newest venture is Life Raft Treats, an ice cream cart in Charleston, South Carolina.

Joe York is an independent filmmaker who has collaborated with the SFA for more than fifteen years. Ask him about “Mesothelioma Manor,” his ambitious home-renovation project.

Kevin Young is poetry editor of The New Yorker and the director of New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Almost obnoxiously prolific, Young probably wrote his next collection in the time it took you to read these bios.

Mei Zhang is the author of Travels Through Dali with a Leg of Ham. A native of Yunnan province, she is a founder and the CEO of the travel company WildChina.