Cynthia Bertelsen, Co-Curator: Virginia

Cynthia Bertelsen’s passion for food and the touches brought about by cross-cultural contacts came from her Southern grandmothers, who shaped her early cooking repertoire. Descended from some of the earliest settlers at Jamestown, Cindy now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia. On her blog, Gherkins & Tomatoes, she writes about food, cookbooks, and culinary history. The author of numerous articles in various food-related encyclopedias and several hundred book reviews, Cindy also wrote Mushroom: A Global History, forthcoming from Reaktion Books in the U.K. Her current project involves studying the impact of the Huguenot Diaspora on the cuisine of the America South, particularly Virginia and South Carolina. Cindy received the 2011 Scholar’s Grant from the Culinary Historians of New York to assist in this study. She holds master’s degrees in History, Human Nutrition & Foods, and Library and Information Science. For the past eight years, Cindy expended a lot of time and energy on the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Collection at Virginia Tech’s Newman Library. Follow Cindy’s tweets on books and cooking and history at @cbertel.

Alessa Bertouluzzi, Curator: South Carolina

Alessa is a resident of Summerville, South Carolina who loves food, history and the South. She was a co-writer at Carolina HeartString,s a blog that covered both of the Carolinas, and is now focusing on her new project, The Salty Shrimper, exploring all things about shrimps. She is excited to bring her previous museum board experience and love of documentation to her role as the South Carolina curator for The Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Alessa is a business owner and the mother of two teenage children, one of whom is autistic. She enjoys shag dancing, photography, shrimping and day tripping with her South Carolina born and raised sweetheart. She can be contacted at

Stephanie Jane Carter, Curator: Texas

Stephanie Carter is a writer and the editor-in-chief of Edible New Orleans. Before this, she helped open the Southern Food and Beverage Museum where she spent 5 ½ years. During her time there, she founded OKRA, the online magazine of the SoFAB Institute; raised money; worked as board liaison; curated exhibits; and gave presentations on historic cocktails and traditional Louisiana dishes. She also moderated and sat on panels on media and food at the SoFAB Institute’s annual symposiums. She co-authored The A-Z Encyclopedia of Food Controversies and the Law, which was called “the most comprehensive work covering food and law.” She had lectured at the Newcomb Institute and various New Orleans public libraries.

Tommy Centola, Curator: Arkansas

Tommy Centola has been cooking since he was 8 years old. It is no wonder he has spent most of his life in the food industry. At age 16, his first job was at LeRuth’s restaurant, a five star award winning restaurant. A native of New Orleans, Tommy and his wife, Peggy, moved to Searcy, Arkansas after Hurricane Katrina. As a sales rep for Sysco Foods, he is constantly learning about his new home state. By volunteering to be the State Curator for the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Tommy plans to learn all he can about the food culture in Arkansas. In 2011, Tommy published his first cookbook “You can’t keep New Orleans out of the cook.” You can find his blog on his website He regularly posts recipes from his book and from many of the great restaurants of New Orleans.

Nancy Carter Crump, Co-Curator: Virginia

Nancy Carter Crump is a culinary historian, specializing in Chesapeake regional foodways. She is a native of tidewater Virginia, where she was first exposed to old ways of preparing and presenting regional foods. In the 1970s she began work at Colonial Williamsburg as an Educational Programmer. Her involvement with their new open hearth cooking program intensified her interest in historic foodways. As an independent scholar, Nancy Carter has demonstrated and taught open-hearth cooking, and has lectured on various aspects of Virginia and North Carolina food history at numerous historic sites throughout those states, and beyond. Ms. Crump’s first book, Hearthside Cooking, a history of Virginia foodways, was first published in 1986.  She is a co-author of Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertainment, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon, that was published in 2011. Other articles have appeared in numerous publications.

Jack Carrel, Curator: Mississippi

Jack Carrel received his bachelors in journalism and business from the University of Mississippi and his masters in public health from California State University Long Beach.  He has worked in Public Health for over 30 years and for a time was the Academic Director of the English as a foreign language program at the University of Guadalajara where he began his love of Mexican food and culture.  He built the Day of the Dead altar at SOFAB and conducts the annual sugar skull workshop.  While at Ole Miss, he was involved with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and originated the idea for the first Oxford Folklife Festival.

Richard Foss, Curator: California

Food and drink historian Richard Foss has been writing about food and drink professionally since 1986, when he started reviewing restaurants for the Los Angeles Reader. Since then he has written for over 20 publications, including contributing articles to the Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia (Greenwood 2011). He currently serves on the board of the Culinary Historians of Southern California and teaches "500 Years of American Food," “American Fermented,” and "What Shakespeare Left Out" at Osher Institute/UCLA Extension. He authoredRum: A Global History, released by Reaktion Books in April 2012, and his history of dining aloft, from the zeppelin era to the space station, will be released in 2014. Also forthcoming is a book examining the local food movement, sustainability, and urban agriculture.

Sarah Fouts, Curator: Kentucky

Originally from Kentucky, Sarah Fouts studied History and Spanish at Centre College. After graduating, Sarah served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay where she worked on community garden projects with local youth. Upon her return from South America in 2008, Sarah worked for a non-profit in Shelbyville, Kentucky where she collaborated with the state folklorist to produce Latin American Food Festivals celebrating the state’s latest waves of Latino immigrants.  In 2010, Sarah moved to New Orleans to begin a degree in Urban Studies/Applied Anthropology in which she completed an ethnographic study on the post-Katrina emergence of Central American and Mexican foodways.  Sarah is currently a doctoral student at Tulane University where she researches Latin American foodways in New Orleans.

Cassandra Gaines, Curator: Oklahoma and Soul Food

Ms. Cassandra Gaines has been actively involved in Tourism in Northeastern Oklahoma region since 1982. A $50,000.00 grant was appropriated in 1997 from the Oklahoma Historical Society to help promote African American Heritage Tourism in Northeastern Oklahoma. Ms. Gaines is the Multi-Cultural Director for convention & tourisms in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Ms. Gaines continues to study African American Histories and promote African –American Tourism in the region and nationally. Ms. Gaines is known throughout the United States for the Oklahoma Historical Black Town Tour and speaking on Heritage tourism which is a new niche in the tourism market. She’s also known for her entertainment ability for putting on various Musical and Educational Events. Ms. Gaines has brought such names to Oklahoma “Ervin Magic Johnson”, Susan Taylor with Essence Magazine, Danny Glover, Najee, Tony Dorsett, Billy Sims, Dr. Bobby Jones, Clarence Smith Essence Magazine, Xernona Clayton Trumpet Awards, Malika Yoba, just to name a few. By being in this position she has made it possible to give out over $150,000.00 in scholarship fee waivers to over 50 deserving students to attend the various colleges in Northeastern Oklahoma.

Maria Grenchik, Co-Curator: Maryland

Maria Grenchik is a resident of Riverdale, MD and is eager to share Maryland’s traditional foods with the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  She has an MAA in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland, College Park.   Maria is an archaeologist with a particular interest in early American foodways and sorting through past cultures’ “left-overs”.  She has worked as a researcher and museum educator for several different organizations including the National Park Service and the Riversdale House Museum.  Maria enjoys traveling around the world and experiencing local foods with local people.

Seth Hamstead, Curator: West Virginia

Seth Hamstead is a West Virginia native who currently resides in New Orleans. His respect for local food traditions was cultivated with his introduction to New Orleans while at Tulane University. Seth received his BS in Chemistry, which also allowed him to experiment in the kitchen and build his passion for food. Living in Chicago, Seth and his wife, Bess, travelled the south extensively to study different regional food traditions, and eventually moved back to New Orleans. Seth graduated with his MBA in 2012 from Tulane University and is now co-owner of Cleaver & Co. (, a full service meat market specializing in sustainably raised and local sourced meats as well as regional specialties. He is excited to bring his childhood food memories of West Virginia to SoFAB.

Clara Lyle, Curator and Research Assistant

History lover, home cook, and successful eater, Clara Lyle always finds a way to bring food into the conversation. Her earliest memories include biking around her hometown of New York City , exploring its diverse culinary cultures from Spicy and Tasty to Kalustyan’s. After graduating from Cornell University with a double BA in History and Global Health, Clara backpacked solo through Europe and then returned to the Big Apple where she completed a research internship at DoSomething.Org. She joined Teach For America in 2013 and moved to New Orleans to teach elementary school in Jefferson Parish. In 2014, she left the school system to cook at Donald Link’s Cochon Restaurant and to volunteer with Grow Dat Urban Youth Farm. She is devoted to spreading the word about eating fresh food, cherishing culinary tradition, and the importance of eating around a table.

Tammie Merrill, Curator: North Carolina

Tammie transplanted her Western roots to the South nearly 24 years ago from the wild west of  Wyoming.   Having grown up in the west, she became instantly smitten with all things Southern;  the food, the culture and the rich history to be found in her new home State of North Carolina.   Her love of cooking and eating Southern food, traveling and exploring lead her to her passion for writing about North Carolina.  Partnering with her best friend of 20 years,  she started a food, travel and lifestyle blog called Carolina HeartStrings in 2010.  They immerse their readers in the wonderful variety of foods, culture and activities to be found in the Carolinas.  Come on over and visit them and sit a spell at

Rick Normand, Curator: Art and Photography

Rick has been involved with SOFAB since its inception in 2004, participating in establishing its collections and in collaborating in its art and photography exhibitions. He has a degree in Art History and has refined his eye through thirty-five years of collecting, participating in art museum programs, and as a practicing attorney, representing artist, designers, gallery owners and writers in their legal matters. He has taught Arts Administration Law for graduate students preparing for careers in arts and nonprofits, at the University of New Orleans. He has also taught Historic Preservation Law at Southeastern Louisiana University, University of New Orleans and Tulane University. Rick is active in arts and historic preservation organization in New Orleans. He is the past president of the Louisiana Preservation Alliance, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, and the Council for International Visitors, and Esplanade Ridge Neighborhood Association. He is currently a board member of the Preservation Resource Center, the Jane Austen Society of Louisiana, and the English-Speaking Union of New Orleans, and a past board member of many neighborhood and cultural organizations.

Chanda M. Nunez, Curator: Georgia

Chanda M. Nunez received her Master’s degree in History from the University of New Orleans. She has curated an exhibit at SOFAB entitled Pecan Candy and has spent the last year lecturing about African-American praline vendors. She currently has a fellowship at Tulane University and is working on a book about praline vendors. Chanda blogs at

Elizabeth Pearce, Drinks Curator

Drinks Historian Elizabeth Pearce is a Louisiana native. She is the founder and owner of the company Drink & Learn which offers tours, classes and presentations, telling the story of New Orleans, the South and the United States through its iconic beverages. She was the original Senior Curator of the museum from its inception in 2004 to its opening in 2008, during which time she created all of  its exhibits, most notably Restaurant Restorative, commissioned by the James Beard Awards, to honor the role New Orleans restaurant played in the rebuilding of the city after Hurricane Katrina.

She is the Education Specialist for the Herbsaint and Peychaud’s Bitters, telling New Orleans history through these brands for the Sazerac Company. She is the co-author of the French Quarter Drinking Companion, a narrative guide to 100 bars in the French Quarter. She is a regular drinks column contributor to the New Orleans Advocate. In 2010 she created and starred in the musical: New Orleans Down the Hatch: A Cabaret in Two Cocktails, showcasing New Orleans storied history in song through the Sazerac and Hurricane. It was nominated for a Big Easy Award for Best Cabaret 2010. She recently created a musical presentation No Beer, No Work: The Songs of Prohibition, recounting that remarkable time in our nation’s history through its tunes. Prior to her tenure at the museum, she was a contributing columnist to the Times-Picayune Food Section and Emeril’s online food magazine. Her culinary writing has been featured in the journals Gastronomica, Put A Egg On It, and the collection, Room in the Bowl: The Story of Gumbo. A graduate of Louisiana State University, the University of Siena, Italy and the University of New Orleans, she holds a Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Instruction.

MM Pack, Curator: Texas

Texas native MM Pack is a food writer/historian and private chef who lives in Austin and San Francisco. A former librarian and technical writer, she’s a graduate of Rice University, University of Texas, and California Culinary Academy, and has been writing about food since 1998. A regular contributor to The Austin Chronicle and Edible Austin, she was a 2009 finalist for IACP’s Bert Greene Food Journalism Award and is published in Gastronomica, The San Francisco Chronicle, Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America, Scribner’s Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, The Dictionary of Culinary Biography, and Southern Foodways Alliance’s Cornbread Nation 1. She’s presented on Texas foodways to various museums and food history groups as well as to IACP, CIA-Napa, the Foodways Texas symposium, Southern Foodways Alliance, and the Creole Sweet symposium in New Orleans.

Kat Robinson, Curator: Arkansas

Kat Robinson is Arkansas’s food historian and most enthusiastic road warrior. The Little Rock-based travel writer is the host of AETN’s "Make Room For Pie; A Delicious Slice of The Natural State" and a committee member for the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. The author of Arkansas Food: The A to Z of Eating in The Natural State, Kat has also compiled the comprehensive travel guide for pie lovers, Another Slice of Arkansas Pie: A Guide to the Best Restaurants, Bakeries, Truck Stops and Food Trucks for Delectable Bites in The Natural State (2018). Her other books are Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State (2012), Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley (2013), and Classic Eateries of the Arkansas Delta (2014). She is the Arkansas fellow to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, and the 2011 Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Henry Award winner for Media Support. Her work appears in regional and national publications including Food Network, Forbes Travel Guide, Serious Eats, AAA Magazines and AY Magazine, among others. While she writes on food and travel subjects throughout the United States, she is best known for her ever-expanding knowledge of Arkansas food history and restaurant culture, all of which she explores on her 1200+ article website,

Kathleen Weldon, Curator: Oklahoma

Kathleen Weldon is a freelance food writer who has had a lifelong fascination with American foodways. Her articles have appeared in Culinate and the Boston Globe, and she has been blogging at since 2005. She currently works at the Harvard School of Public Health and is engaged in graduate coursework in food policy at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition.  A passionate home cook and obsessive cookbook collector, she also holds a certification in baking and pastry arts from the Culinary Institute of America and spent several years working in professional bakeries.

Joyce White, Curator: Maryland

Joyce White is a resident of Annapolis, MD and is excited to be able to bring the culinary traditions of Maryland to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Joyce has a BA in American Studies from William Smith College in Geneva, NY and a MA in American Studies from Penn State. Joyce has worked as a museum educator and curator in numerous museums in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland where she was exposed to culinary history and was able to immerse herself in open hearth cooking and the research of early American foodways. Joyce is currently the food historian for Riversdale House Museum in Riverdale Park, MD and you can find her on Facebook where she administers the Group, Cooking Up the Past. She also runs her own programs for food history and tastings through A Taste of History with Joyce White.