Nasim Alikhani is the chef and owner of Sofreh, the new, acclaimed Persian restaurant in Brooklyn. She emigrated to the U.S. from Iran as a student, pursuing law. While finishing school, she worked as a waitress, nanny and family cook. Her career veered in many directions—from owning a copy shop to opening foundations in Greece and Iran. Through it all, her passion for cooking and her dream of opening a restaurant were a steadfast beacon. While planning Sofreh, Nasim began to cater events and studied at the International Culinary Center. Finally, after 25 years, at age 59, Sofreh’s doors opened.
Liz Alpern is the creator of Queer Soup Night, co-owner of The Gefilteria and co-author of The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods. She is a faculty member at the International Culinary Center's Entrepreneurship program and consults for national food justice organization, Fair Food Network. Liz earned her MBA from Baruch College and has been featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
Through her work, Emilie Baltz uses food & the senses to create delightful experiences that reveal new points of entry into the world. Emilie is based in New York City and works out of the New Lab for emerging technologies. She is a founding members of NEW INC, the first museum led incubator hosted at the New Museum and is also part of the founding faculty of the School of Visual Arts Products of Design MFA program, as well as the founder of the Food Design Studio at Pratt Institute.
Following a successful career in high-tech, Zita Cobb returned to her home of Fogo Island to help grow another leg on the economy of this singular rural place. A registered Canadian charity, Shorefast uses business-minded means to help secure economic and cultural resilience for Fogo Island, Newfoundland. Shorefast’s notable achievements to date comprise a holistic set of charitable initiatives, including the world-class artist-in-residence program Fogo Island Arts, and three innovative social businesses whose operating surpluses are returned to Shorefast for reinvestment in further community development work.
Julianna Fischer is a community organizer with NAMA and lives in Biddeford, Maine. Julianna sees tremendous power in collective action and intersectional justice and is thrilled to be working with an organization that shares this vision.
Julianna also serves as Co-Coordinator of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, is on the Network team of Food Solutions New England, and is on the Policy Working Group of Farm to Institution New England. She received a degree in Environmental Policy and Energy Policy from Western Washington University.
Ambika Gautam Pai is a career-long strategist who has worked in both the B2C and B2C landscape building brands that in turn build business, rethink categories and connect deeply with people She has helped reinvigorate legacy brands such as Grey Goose and Tiffany, created categories with Google Chrome and Youtube, bridged the divide between B2B and B2C with HP, Cars.com, and Zillow, and cultivated creative swagger with Burger King, MeUndies, Nike and UNICEF. Ambika is passionate about education, having taught on the power of brand thinking at Parsons, and guest lectured at Wharton. She also speaks about the power of feminine leadership and cultivating true diversity and inclusion within organizations.
Sophia Hampton is a student. Currently, at NYU she explores how growing, eating, and serving food nourishes communities. She is passionate about the connection between healthy soil and healthy people. Her experiences cleaning whelks and frying trout skin in professional kitchens to squeezing endless limes and pouring mezcal for bars in NYC inspires her belief in the power of cooking and serving food.
As a whole-animal butcher apprentice and farmer, she is learning how to use herself as a tool within a food system that supports people and the environment. From transplanting winter squash in the field to transforming a pig into sausage and pork chops on the butcher block, she is fascinated by the cycles of all life within a truly regenerative food system.
Elena Liao is the founder of Té Company and an avid tea drinker living in NYC. She was raised in Taiwan until moving to America in her early teens. Living in the food mecca of NYC, Elena was inspired to bring her childhood beverage alive among fellow culinary enthusiasts. Té Company specializes in Taiwanese teas and is committed to spreading the awareness and accessibility of finer teas in America. Elena was a retail industry veteran prior to starting Té Company in 2012, working in merchandise planning at Victoria’s Secret, Ann Taylor and Saks. Elena earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania. She is fluent in English and Mandarin.
Katherine MacLean, PhD is a research scientist, teacher and meditator. In her academic research at UC Davis and Johns Hopkins University, she studied how psychedelics and mindfulness meditation can promote beneficial, long-lasting changes in personality, well-being and brain function. After leaving academia, she co-founded and directed the Psychedelic Education & Continuing Care Program in New York, where she has led monthly integration groups for psychedelic users and training workshops for clinicians and the public. She currently lives on an organic farm and will be a study therapist on the upcoming Phase 3 trial of MDMA for PTSD. Connect: katherinemaclean.org
Laura Silverman, a naturalist, writer, creative consultant and cook, founded The Outside Institute in 2017 as a way to share her passion for the natural world through guided hikes, foraging excursions, plant-based workshops and culinary gatherings that highlight local and wild flavors. By nurturing humanity’s innate affinity for all living things, she hopes to inspire passionate stewardship of the land and a deeper connection to our true nature.
Rachel Van Dolsen leads a progressive PR and social media agency with a focus on the hospitality industry. Founded in 2012, the company has 20 full-time employees and headquarters in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Notable clients include Toby's Estate, Black Seed Bagels, 886, Buffy and others. As her family and friends will attest, Rachel has a gift for storytelling. Sometimes this trait gets her into trouble, like in seventh grade when her report card boasted six "excessive talking" comments. However, since launching RVD, Rachel has had the pleasure of using her powers for good – helping entrepreneurs tell their stories, reach a wider audience and build loyal and authentic brand followings.
Tunde Wey is a Nigerian immigrant chef/ writer working at the intersection of food and social politics. His work engages systems of exploitative power, particularly race, global capitalism, from the vantage point of the marginalized other. Tunde’s food work has been written about in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR. His own writing has been featured in the Boston Globe, Oxford American and CityLab. He writes a column in the San Francisco Chronicle
Korsha Wilson is a food writer and graduate of The Culinary Institute of America that has worked in front and back of the house roles in restaurants. She is the host of A Hungry Society, a podcast on Heritage Radio Network that takes a more inclusive and diverse look at the food world. If you want to see her geek out ask her about the role of restaurants in modern society or "real" crab cakes- she grew up in Maryland.
Laurie Woolever is a writer, editor, and was, until his death, the right-hand man to Anthony Bourdain, with whom she co-authored Appetites: A Cookbook in 2016. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, GQ, Saveur, Dissent, Lucky Peach and more, and she is working on two books about Bourdain's life and travels.