2013 Speakers

J. Kenji Lopez-AltJ. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of the Serious Eats family of websites, the largest independent food blog in the world. After graduating from MIT, he learned the craft of cooking the traditional way—working his way up from prep cook to chef at many of Boston’s top restaurants including No. 9 Park and Clio. He spent the next three years as an editor at Cook’s Illustrated in Brookline, Mass., where he produced some of the most innovative recipes the magazine has printed, as well as cohosting several episodes of the public television show America’s Test Kitchen. He currently resides in Harlem, N.Y., with his wife and dog, where he pens the Food Lab column for Serious Eats, dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of home cooking with science. He is the co-author of Serious Eats: A Comprehensive Guide To Making and Eating Delicious Food Wherever You Are, published by Clarkson-Potter, and the author of the upcoming The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, to be published by W. W. Norton in 2012.

Kevin Barron

Kevin Barron is the founder and publisher of PeeDeeFoodie and host of its companion podcast, the Pee Dee Food Show. Though born in Charleston, Kevin has lived mostly in and around the Southern foodie havens of New Orleans and Memphis. In 2009, he returned to the Palmetto State and settled in Florence. He’s a self-described geek who enjoys great food, as well as the creativity involved in online publishing and podcast production. In 2011, CarolinaBloggin.com named PeeDeeFoodie Best Foodie Blog and overall Blog of the Year. Kevin is currently working on his first book for The History Press, a chronicle of the food heritage and culture of the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina.

Chadwick BoydChadwick Boyd is the founder and president of L&D Enterprises, a national food and lifestyle brand consulting firm based in Atlanta. He works with food brands, celebrity chefs, television networks, publishing houses and media networks creating high-level brand strategies and relationship networks, including Panera Bread, chef Tyler Florence, Food Network and Clarkson Potter/Random House. He has helped create and market 14 cooking and lifestyle books, and recently appeared in the PBS Special Heirloom Meals.

Sheri Castle

Sheri Castle is a professional food writer, recipe developer, recipe tester, and culinary instructor. She is known for melding storytelling, humor, and culinary expertise, so she can tell a tale while making a memorable meal. She is the author of The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Recipes for Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and CSA Boxes, The University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Among the accolades, this book was selected as the 2012 Cookbook of the Year by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). It was also named a notable book by The New York Times and a recommended book by The Washington Post. Recipes and excerpts from the book have appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and Web sites across the country.

Jay DucoteJay Ducote is a talented writer, an avid traveler, a philanthropist when he gets the chance, an entrepreneur at times, and one heck of a good guy. He is the author of the website Bite and Booze, which chronicles his culinary and indulgent cultural experiences as he eats and drinks at home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and around the world. Jay can currently be found as a freelance writer for 225 magazine, as a radio host of the BiteandBooze.com Radio Show on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge, and as a chef instructor at the first-of-its-kind Viking Cooking School Outdoors at the Baton Rouge Hilton Capitol Center.  He is the former chair of the founding Board of Directors for the Baton Rouge Social Media Association and former Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Mobile Food Vendors Association.

Helene DujardinHelene Dujardin was raised in Provence and moved to the American South in the late ’90s, fell in love, and never left. Since then, she’s created the award-winning site Tartelette, where she dedicates herself to the craft of food and lifestyle photography. Her work reveals her passion for natural light, seasonal ingredients, travel, and people and brings life and story to the foods and people she photographs. As of October 2012, Helene is Oxmoor House’s new senior photographer, focusing her work on inspiring and fun cookbooks for such brands as Cooking Light, Weight Watchers, and Southern Living. She’s photographed numerous magazine features, cookbooks, and catalogues, including for Ten Speed Press, Running Press, Le Creuset, One Kings Lane, and Food & Wine. Her work has been lauded by Elle, Martha Stewart, The Times Online, Forbes, and many other publications. She is also the author of Plate To Pixel, Digital Food Photography & Styling, a practical manual for novice and intermediate food photographers. Helene currently resides in Birmingham with her husband and their two dogs.

Martie DuncanParty expert and entrepreneur Martie Duncan represented the great state of Alabama and home cooks everywhere this year as a finalist on Season 8 of the popular competition cooking show Food Network Star. Selected from thousands of applicants by culinary icon Alton Brown as part of his team, Duncan was the only contestant with no culinary training or food industry experience in the year’s cast. Her food was described by Food Network executives as “warm and comforting, like hot cocoa or flannel pajamas.” Martie prefers to use local ingredients in her cooking; she featured a story about Mobile Bay and a favorite shrimp recipe in her pilot for the show. As a wedding and party-planning expert, Martie has helped friends plan everything from weddings to casual tailgates and charity events to small backyard picnics. Her popular website, MartieKnowsParties.com, showcases simple recipes and ideas for affordable entertaining at home. She’s currently at work on her first book and is busy appearing at food events across the country.

Elizabeth EngelhardtNative North Carolinian Elizabeth Engelhardt is professor of American studies and women’s and gender studies at the University of Texas. Her most recent books are A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food (2011) and Republic of Barbecue (2009). Her work has appeared in two volumes of Cornbread Nation, recognizing the best Southern food writing. She is a founder and board member of Foodways Texas, an organization to preserve, promote, and celebrate Texas’ diverse food cultures; that work emerges from her longstanding collaborations with the Southern Foodways Alliance. Her teaching has been awarded the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award and Silver Spurs Teaching Fellowship Award. She received her doctorate from Emory in 1999 and has been at UT since 2004.

Lisa Ekus is the founder of The Lisa Ekus Group, an award-winning public relations firm and literary agency that has been “promoting a world of culinary talent” for almost 30 years. A member of numerous professional organizations, Lisa travels and lectures frequently around the country. She is also an experienced media trainer and offers both on- and off-site programs for culinary professionals.

Amy C. EvansAmy C. Evans  is the oral historian for the Southern Foodways Alliance. She has stood in pig lots in Cajun Country, behind bars in Louisville (cocktail bars, that is), and on oyster skiffs in the Apalachicola Bay to collect the stories behind the food. In recognition of her documentary work, Food & Wine magazine named Amy one of the “most fearsome talents” in the culinary world. Her work has twice been recognized by the Mississippi Historical Society, received Travel & Leisure magazine’s 2009 Global Vision Award, and was honored with two awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 2012. Amy holds an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She appreciates a good meringue and can never eat too many oysters.

Amy GreenAmy Green, M.Ed., is the founder of the blog Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free and the best-selling author of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free: 180 Easy & Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less. She has been a guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Good Morning Texas, Fox 4 News Dallas, Talk 980 Radio USA, and has been featured in Living Without, Clean Eating, Reader’s Digest Canada, D,  and The Plano Profile. Amy co-founded Nourished, the only food-blogging conference aimed at those blogging about specialty diets. Amy lives in Dallas with her husband, son, and four dogs.

Cynthia GraubartCynthia Stevens Graubart is an author, speaker, former cooking show television producer, and most recently the co-author with Nathalie Dupree of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, as well as the best-selling Southern Biscuits, also co-written with Nathalie Dupree. Cynthia emerged as an expert in her own right with the publication of her first book, The One- Armed Cook: Quick and Easy Recipes, Smart Meal Plans, and Savvy Advice for New (and not- so-new) Moms, called “the culinary version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Cynthia is passionate about food, from researching its origins, writing recipes, and teaching technique, to bringing families together at the table. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and has spoken at its annual conference. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier (LDEI) and has served on the board of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Beau GustafsonBeau Gustafson, AKA the Big Swede, has been photographing food for cookbooks, magazines and restaurants for over 20 years. He has seen many changes to the technology aspect of photography, from the 4×5 and 35-mm cameras to the digital age, when his first digital camera had less resolution than the iPhone!  An avid user of the iPhone, even for some professional jobs, he knows that being a photographer is learning how to see, light, compose, and bring a little of your heart to the photo as well.  His workshop will be about using the iPhone to capture great food images.

Tami HardemanAfter leaving behind a career as a fashion stylist, Tami Hardeman has been melding her loves of food & photography for eight years as a professional food stylist. Working in both print and video, she has styled for clients including Bloomingdale’s, Le Creuset, Publix Supermarkets, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines. She’s also worked on several cookbooks, most recently the upcoming book from international food personality Ingrid Hoffmann. She also has a food blog called Running With Tweezers, where she escapes to share home recipes, travel photos and everyday musings.

Dianne JacobDianne Jacob has taught classes on food writing for 10 years, including at the Smithsonian Institution and UCLA’s journalism department. She is the author of the award-winning Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More, and she covers food-writing trends and technique on her blog, Will Write for Food.

Paula-Jones-croppedPaula Jones is the creator (recipe development, food photographer, stylist, writer and chief dishwasher) of the blog bell’alimento. Since beginning her blog in 2009, she has been a Saveur “Site We Love” as well as featured on CNN, Serious Eats, Paula Deen, The Washington Post, and The Cooking Channel, among others. When she is not working on creating and shooting recipes for her own site she is a freelance professional recipe developer for national brands.

Lindsay LandisLindsay Landis is a graphic designer and entrepreneur by day and a food blogger and cookie dough addict by night. Her food blog, Love & Olive Oil, chronicles her culinary adventures in and around the kitchen. She is also the author of The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook: Cookies, Cakes, Candies, and More (Quirk Books, 2012). While food is not her career, it has always been her passion; from the many bake sales she orchestrated as a child to the time and effort she dedicates to her food blog today, it is obvious that food, especially dessert, is an integral part of her life. When she’s not baking, Lindsay runs two small businesses together with her husband Taylor. The couple currently resides in Nashville with their three crazy cats.

Marion LaneyMarion Laney is director of photography of ideaWercs, a film and video production company. He’s worked on a number of projects for Food Network and PBS, including Good Eats with Alton Brown, Mario Eats Italy with Mario Batali, and Cooking Thin with Kathleen Daelemans. He’s a National Committee Member of the James Beard Foundation media awards, and he is involved in seafood and Gulf Coast issues. Follow Marion on Twitter @MarionLaney.

Hunter Lewis Hunter E. Lewis is executive editor at Southern Living, the nation’s seventh largest monthly paid magazine. He has held this position since September 2012. In this role, Lewis oversees the brand’s extensive food content in print and online, and manages the Test Kitchen staff that tests 4,000 recipes annually. He regularly collaborates with the Time Inc. book-publishing unit, Oxmoor House, on the development and execution of Southern Living cookbooks. Previously, Lewis was Food Editor at Bon Appétit and Test Kitchen Director at Saveur. Lewis cooked under Jonathan Waxman in Sonoma County, CA, and New York City. He was a reporter at The Herald-Sun in Durham, North Carolina, where he wrote restaurant reviews and covered several beats, including higher education and crime. He has served stints as a short order cook from North Carolina to Idaho.  Lewis hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Taylor MathisTaylor Mathis (@taylor_mathis) is a food and lifestyle photographer based in Charlotte, N.C. He blogs about food and food-photography techniques at Taylor Takes a Taste. His passion for college sports and football led him to travel the South over the last three seasons exploring the world of college-football tailgating. He is currently writing a cookbook based on his experiences.

Deborah Mele

Deborah Mele is the founder of the blog Italian Food Forever, which has been online now for over 11 years and on which she shares her passion for simple, casual, Italian recipes. Mele’s presence on the web has led to being featured in a number of American newspapers, an 8-page spread in the recent Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Italian magazine, and she will have an article in the Naples Daily News in March. In 2011, Deborah started a second recipe blog with her daughter Christy, an RD, called Recipe Rebuild that features healthy recipes and nutritional advice. Presently, Mele splits her time between Naples, Florida and Umbria, Italy. During her 6 months in Umbria every year, she oversees a farmhouse rental with her husband, caters meals for her guests, and hosts Umbrian cooking classes in her farmhouse kitchen.

Andre NattaAndré Natta started The Terminal, a critically acclaimed web publication about Birmingham, in 2007. He also has two blogs—a personal one (Dre’s Ramblings) and another looking at modern communication methods and urbanism (Urban Conversations). He also contributes a monthly column on technology and how it’s affecting the future of Alabama’s Magic City, (The Digital City) for B-Metro magazine and serves on several area boards when he’s not out in search of the perfect ballpark.

Kim O'DonnelKim O’Donnel is a longtime journalist, chef and author. For a dozen years, she was an online fixture at The Washington Post, teaching and inspiring readers about cooking, eating mindfully and sustainably, and the kitchen life.  She has been a cooking columnist at Atlanta newsweekly Creative Loafing and most recently at USA Today.  Based in Seattle, Kim is the author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook and the forthcoming Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations (October 2012).  She is the founder of Canning Across America, a collective dedicated to the revival of home food preservation.

Dana PopoffDana P. Popoff is executive producer of ideaWercs, a film and video production company. She produced Alton Brown’s award-winning series Good Eats on the Food Network, and has also worked on Mexico, One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless, and Cooking Thin with Kathleen Daelemans. She’s also a James Beard Foundation Media Awards judge.

Colleen Rush

Colleen Rush is the editor of NewOrleans.com, an online travel guide to New Orleans for visitors. She is also the co-author of Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons and author of The Mere Mortal’s Guide to Fine Dining.


Adam RobertsAdam Roberts is the creator of The Amateur Gourmet, called one of the “World’s Best Food Blogs” by The Times of London and a “food world must-read” by the Denver Post. Since he began his blog in 2004, Roberts has been featured on CNN and hosted several shows for Food Network online, and in addition to writing his own blog, he writes for Food & WineSalonSerious EatsThe Huffington Post, and Epicurious. His new book, Secrets of the Best Chefs, (Artisan, fall 2012) features more than 150 recipes from 50 of the nation’s best cooks. He is currently discovering places to eat in his new hometown: Los Angeles.

Tommy TalleyTommy Talley studied photography at LSU before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film  and television world.  Now living in Louisiana again, Talley takes the skills he learned in Hollywood to capture Louisiana’s culture on camera. He owns TommysTV, a digital media production company which has created video content for Bite and Booze, local musicians and entrepreneurs, Raising Cane’s, Walmart, Visit Baton Rouge, Delta Airlines, LSU, New Orleans Hornets, New Orleans Saints, RTA Transportation, and more. He has also worked behind the camera and as a field producer on projects such as NBC’s Biggest Loser, Discovery Channel’s The Colony, and Nick Jr.’s Yo Gabba Gabba, to name a few.

Caitlin Van HornCaitlin Van Horn was married in Tennessee, transplanted in Seattle and is now back in her Dixie stompin’ ground of Alabama. She and her husband have had tremendous success healing his Crohn’s disease through diet, and it is on her blog Roost where Van Horn shares original recipes and musings devoted to seasonal, whole foods with an emphasis on a grain free lifestyle. When she is not tending her blog, she is a freelance stylist and photographer for publications such as Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Oxmoor House and Southern Living. Her work has also been featured online at Gourmet, Saveur, Martha Stewart and The Cooking Channel. Van Horn is currently working on a full-length hardcover cookbook with Ten Speed Press, due to come out in the spring of 2014.

Celeste Ward is a Director of Business Development in the relocation industry by day, and a passionate food blogger and photographer by night.  She is published on her blog, Sugar & Spice by Celeste, which she created in 2007 shortly after getting married.  What originally started as a simple way to catalog recipes, has turned into a full-blown love for all things food related.  Her work has been featured on Fox 6 News’ Good Day Alabama, The Cooking Channel website, AL.com, Tastespotting, The Magic City Post, Yummly, as well as by Belle Chevre and Masterbuilt to name a few.  She is currently working on co-authoring and photographing her first cookbook, due to be published in 2013.

Susan Whetzel

Susan Whetzel is a recipe developer, blogger, photographer, and freelance writer, and the force behind doughmesstic.com.  She started her blog as a creative outlet for learning to cook after the birth of her son, and after getting her feet wet, turned the blog into a business. Whetzel currently writes for two magazine publications and has two cookbooks in print.  She spends her days developing recipes for national brands, as well as for her blog, all the while keeping her young family fed!  Recently, Whetzel has been writing for a major home-improvement source on DIY projects, as well as many travel and tourism venues…keeping her life all kinds of doughmesstic!

Virginia WillisVirginia Willis is the author of the acclaimed cookbook Bon Appétit, Y’all! Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2008). Her next book, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: Recipes and Recollections of a Southern Culinary Journey is the lead book for Ten Speed Press for fall 2011. A graduate of L’Academie de Cuisineand Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne, she previously she honed her attention to detail as kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living Television, where she supervised the food segments for the Emmy-award winning television show. With MSLTV, Virginia was also responsible for preparing private meals and events for Martha and her guests—including, among others, President Bill Clinton, Aretha Franklin, and Julia Child. As executive producer for Epicurious on The Discovery Channel, she traveled the world taping fantastic stories about food, from harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano to making authentic mustard in Dijon.