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.

2018 Smith Symposium Fellow: Soleil Ho

Soleil Ho is a food and pop culture writer and host of two podcasts: Racist Sandwich and BITCH Media’s Popaganda. Her work often engages the intersections between what we consume (often literally) and how we see ourselves and our world. She is a graduate of Grinnell College, and she also possesses the ragged remains of an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from the University of New Orleans.

2018 Smith Symposium Fellow: Iliana Rocha

Iliana Rocha earned her PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, as well as The Nation, RHINO, Blackbird, and West Branch. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma.

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.

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.