Advisory Board Chair
Francis Lam is the host of The Splendid Table, produced by American Public Media. He is the former Eat columnist for The New York Times Magazine and is Editor-at-Large at Clarkson Potter. He was also a judge on Top Chef Masters. Lam’s publications have appeared in a number of publications, including Gourmet, Bon Appetít, Food & Wine, and Saveur. He has degrees from the Culinary Institute of America and holds a B.A. in Asian Studies and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. Francis and his family call New York City their home.
Meredith E. Abarca
What has led me to become a professor of Food Studies and Literature in the Department of English at the University of Texas at El Paso, is a life-long passion for food and for people’s stories, especially when these are about food. I define myself as “a child of the kitchen.” I grew up in restaurants, for a while I thought of becoming a professional chef, and then one day I found myself getting a Ph.D. and writing about the transformative power that food holds in all of our lives. Since then, I’ve continued to research and write about this power in Voices in the Kitchen (2006); Rethinking Chicana/o Literature Through Food: Postnational Appetites (2013), Latin@s’ Presence in the Food Industry: Changing How We Think about Food (2016), and in numerous articles in scholarly journals and edited collections. Through lectures and workshops, I’ve had opportunities of sharing the social, cultural, historical and philosophical complex dynamics that food plays in our lives in places like the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi; the University of Gastronomical Sciences in (Colormo) Parma, Italy; the University of Technology in Sidney, Australia; the University of Paris-Sorbonne, France; the University of Oslo, Norway; the University of Toronto, Canada, and numerous US academic settings. I’m also the creator, editor, and curator of El Paso Food Voices (https://volt.utep.edu/epfoodvoices/), an open source archive digital project, as well as El Paso Food Voices podcast series (https://ElPasoFoodVoices.podbean.com).
Geetika Agrawal first started hosting dinner parties when she was four years old. The main ingredient was play dough. As she graduated to using more edible ingredients, Geetika developed a passion for turning creative ideas into great businesses. With a Computer Science degree from Stanford, Geetika started and ran a software incubator at IBM. Launching new products got her hooked on entrepreneurship. At NYU Stern, Geetika focused her MBA on Social Impact & Innovation, while working with investors and entrepreneurs around the globe. At Acumen Fund, she managed the agriculture portfolio, defining investment strategies to help small holding farmers in India. In London, Geetika worked with community development organization Bootstrap to bring in new revenue and expand community impact, including co-launching the New York Times notable Dalston Roof Park. She helped start Kitchenette, a London incubator inspired by La Cocina. As the Program Director at La Cocina, Geetika loves working alongside the incredible La Cocina entrepreneurs to support their businesses, leading growth initiatives for the organization, and of course, and sharing delicious food.
Valerie Boyd is a professor of journalism and narrative nonfiction writing and the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of Georgia, where she founded and directs the low-residency MFA Program in Narrative Nonfiction. She is author of the critically acclaimed Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, which was hailed by Alice Walker as “magnificent” and “extraordinary”; by the Boston Globe as “elegant and exhilarating”; and by the Denver Post as “a rich, rich read.” Formerly arts editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boyd has written articles, essays, and reviews for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Bon Appetit, Creative Nonfiction, The Oxford American, Essence, and Atlanta Magazine, among other publications. Boyd has spent the past several years curating and editing a collection of the personal journals of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2022.
W. Ralph Eubanks
W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past, which the Washington Post named as one of the best nonfiction books of 2003. He has contributed articles to the Washington Post, WIRED, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and National Public Radio. A graduate of the University of Mississippi (B.A.) and the University of Michigan (M.A., English Language and Literature), he is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and has been a fellow at the New America Foundation. Ralph lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and three children. From 1995 to 2013 he was director of publishing for the Library of Congress and is the former editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia. Currently he is a visiting professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He is at work on a book on the literary heritage of his home state of Mississippi.
Scott Jones lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where he’s Head of Content at eMeals, America’s leading meal planning service. He also travels the country teaching folks about wine through his company Jones Is Thirsty. Scott graduated from the University of Mississippi with a B.A. in Magazine Publishing. After working for several years in Los Angeles as a motion picture development executive, he and his wife, Deanna, relocated to New York where he earned an A.A. in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America. Scott worked at Food & Wine before moving to Birmingham in 1999 to join Southern Living (he was the first man to work in the Food department) where he was Executive Editor until 2011. Deanna was walked down the aisle and given away by an Elvis impersonator when she and Scott were married at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in 1994. They have two daughters—one who attends the University of Mississippi and another who’s a junior in high school.
Edward Lee is the chef/owner of 610 Magnolia and Whiskey Dry in Louisville, KY, and the Culinary Director for Succotash in National Harbor, Maryland, and Penn Quarter, DC. He was the recipient of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for Writing for his book Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine. Lee has also been a six-time finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast. In 2018, Food & Wine Magazine named 610 Magnolia one of the country’s most important restaurants of the past 40 years. The Michelin Guide DC awarded Succotash a Bib Gourmand in 2019.
Lee appears frequently in print and television and his writing has been featured in The New York Times, Esquire, Food & Wine, and many other national publications. He was nominated for a daytime Emmy for his role as host of the Emmy-winning series, Mind of Chef on PBS. He has hosted and written a feature documentary called Fermented.
His philanthropic work includes the Lee Diversity Scholarship to support the Southern Foodways Alliance Oral History Workshop. In 2018, Chef Lee launched The LEE (Let’s Empower Employment) Initiative, which works to bring more diversity and equality to the restaurant industry.
Corby Kummer is executive director of the Food and Society policy program at the Aspen Institute, editor-in-chief of Ideas: The Magazine of the Aspen Institute, a senior editor of The Atlantic, and senior lecturer at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science. He is the author of The Joy of Coffee and The Pleasures of Slow Food, the first book in English on the Slow Food movement, and has been restaurant critic of New York, Boston, and Atlanta Magazines and food and food policy columnist for The New Republic. Every week he is a featured commentator on food and food policy on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio. He has received six James Beard Journalism Awards.
A graduate of Duke University, Ann Marshall built a career out of marketing natural products for some of the most creative companies in the industry, most notably Immaculate Baking Co. where she served as Director of Marketing (and assisted in baking the World’s Biggest Cookie). In 2013, Ann co-founded High Wire Distilling Company, a Charleston, South Carolina, distillery producing regionally inspired, small batch spirits. Ann was named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits Professional in 2019.
Katie McKee is the director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and McMullan Professor of Southern Studies and Professor of English at the University of Mississippi. She earned her B.A. from Centre College, and an MA and PhD from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She is the author of Reading Reconstruction: Sherwood Bonner and the Literature of the Post-Civil War South (2019) and co-editor with Deborah Barker of American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary (2011). She teaches American literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, specializing in postbellum writing of the U.S. South.
Alison Bethel McKenzie
Alison Bethel McKenzie is a veteran journalist who currently serves as Director of Corps Excellence for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. A native of Miami, Bethel McKenzie served for five years as executive director of the INternational Press Institute (IPI), the world’s oldest global press freedom organization, in Vienna. She was the first American, first woman and first African-American to hold the position since IPI was founded in 1950. In addition, she has worked as a visiting professor of print and investigative journalism at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media in Bangalore, India. Most recently, Bethel McKenzie served as executive director of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s oldest journalism society. She was the first African-American to serve as SPJ’s executive director in its 110-year history and only the second woman. Bethel McKenzie was a Knight International Journalism Fellow in Ghana in 2008-09, managing director of the Nassau Guardian in the Bahamas in 2007 and executive editor of the Legal Times in Washington, D.C., in 2006-07. She has also worked at The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, the Boston Globe, and The Detroit News.
A bank examiner gone astray, Andrea Nguyen is living out her dream of making impactful books, reporting compelling food stories, and teaching others how to cook well. She has worked on numerous food publications, including authoring The Pho Cookbook, a 2018 James Beard Award winner, and editing Unforgettable, the biography cookbook about Paula Wolfert. Her mother is extra proud that Andrea was a Jeopardy! clue.
Tom Rankin is Professor of the Practice of Art and Documentary Studies at Duke University where, among other things, he teaches photography, films, and documentary practice in a range of mediums. He lives on the bank of the Eno River in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his wife, Jill McCorkle.
Krishnendu Ray received his Ph.D. in Sociology from SUNY Binghamton in 2001. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science from Delhi University, India. Prior to joining the NYU faculty in 2005, Krishnendu was a faculty member and an Acting Associate Dean for Curriculum Development at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
A food studies scholar, he is the author of The Migrant’s Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Households (Temple University, 2004). He co-edited (with Tulasi Srinivas) Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food and South Asia (University of California Press, 2012). His most recent monograph is The Ethnic Restaurateur (Bloomsbury 2016).
Todd Richards is the co-owner of The Soulful Company Restaurant Group, overseeing Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta and Soul: Food & Culture inside of Atlanta’s famed Krog Street Market. Chef Todd previously helmed the kitchens of prestigious hotels and restaurants including The Shed at Glenwood, The Pig & The Pearl, Rolling Bones Barbecue, White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails, The Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, The Ritz-Carlton (Atlanta, Buckhead, and West Palm Beach), Villa Christina and the Oakroom at the Seelbach Hotel, which garnered the prestigious AAA 5 Diamond Award for restaurant excellence under his tenure.
Richards’ debut cookbook, Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes (Time Inc., Meredith Corporation), was released to rave reviews in May 2018. Within the book, James Beard Award-nominated Chef Todd Richards shares his personal culinary exploration of soul food. The book was named the winner for the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ 2019 Cookbook Awards and is hailed as one of Garden & Gun’s Best Books of 2018 as well as Amazon’s Best Cookbook of 2018.
He is an active Board Member of Wholesome Wave Georgia, a longtime member and supporter of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and is a founding council member of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. Richards also hosts the podcast Soul with Todd Richards on the Heritage Radio Network. He resides in Atlanta.
Eve Troeh first learned of the SFA and its work after Hurricane Katrina, when evacuation took her from New Orleans to Oxford for several weeks after the levee failure. A journalist working primarily in audio, Eve has been a reporter, editor, and producer for local and national public radio and podcasts, and was founding news director at New Orleans Public Radio. Eve is Senior Producer at Marketplace, the public media business and economics programs based in Los Angeles, where she oversees Marketplace Tech and the weekly podcast Make Me Smart. There are few things she loves more than dark roux seafood gumbo.