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.

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.

2015 Smith Symposium Fellow: Nadeen Bir

Nadeen Bir is passionate about social justice issues. Since 2009, she has worked as Advocacy and Organizing Director at Student Action with Farmworkers, with the goal of involving more students and community members in the struggle for farmworker justice.

2014 Smith Symposium Fellow: Michael Twitty

Michael Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, and historical interpreter working with African American foodways and the African Diaspora. He is the author of the blog Afroculinaria.

2014 Smith Symposium Fellow: Evan Mah

Evan Mah began his Toothfish food blog at age 16 and has been writing reviews ever since. He is currently a food editor for Atlanta magazine and recently completed their “Best of Atlanta” issue.

2014 Smith Symposium Fellow: Natasha Bowens

Natasha Bowens is a farmer, writer, and activist who authors the blog Brown.Girl.Farming. In May 2015, she published The Color of Food, which presents the often-overlooked history of agriculture by people of color.