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SoFAB Panel @ ESSENCE Festival 2018

  • Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 900 Convention Center Boulevard New Orleans, LA, 70130 United States (map)

Join SoFAB at the ESSENCE Festival Eats Experience as we host a panel on Friday, July 6 from 2:50 PM - 3:35 PM on the intersections between food history, culture, and race in New Orleans and the South. The panel will feature SoFAB director, Liz Williams, Culinaria director, Pepper Bowen, local rocket scientist and BBQ pitmaster, Howard Conyers, and chair and director of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture, Zella Palmer.  For more information or to register to attend, please visit


About the Panelists

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Liz Williams

Always fascinated by the way the lure of nutmeg and peppercorns motivated the exploration of the world, Liz Williams was lucky to be born into a family of Sicilian heritage in New Orleans. She grew up eating in two great food traditions. She is a founder of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum and President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation. Much of her research and writing centers on the legal and policy issues related to food and foodways. Her book, coauthored with Stephanie Jane Carter, 

The Encyclopedia of Law and Food, was published by Greenwood Publishing in 2011. In 2013 AltaMira published New Orleans: A Food Biography. Her book Lift Your Spirits: A Celebratory History of Cocktail Culture in New Orleans about the drinking culture of New Orleans was published by LSU Press in the spring of 2016.

Pepper Bowen

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Pepper Bowen is a former project manager, current enviro, and consummate lover of food. Pepper holds degrees from Tulane U (BS), Regis U (MSCIT), and Loyola New Orleans (JD); and seats on the New Orleans Food Policy Action and the Regional Sustainability Committees. She has authored academic research articles, policy papers, nasty letters to the editor, and edutaining blog posts, all in her noble quest to bring food and an understanding of where it comes from to the consciousness of people who eat. 

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Howard Conyers

Howard Conyers, PhD. Is a South Carolina Whole Hog BBQ Pitmaster, rocket scientist, and motivational speaker. And cultural event curator/lecturer.  He is the cost and co-producer of Nourish.  He has a lifelong obsession of understanding American South through food, culture, and science. Hence he created From the Low Country to the Bayou initiative to formalize his work.  He received his BS. In Bioenvironmental Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University.  He received his Phd in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Duke University with a specialty in Aeroelasticity. He is employed by NASA as a Mechanical Engineer working in rocket engine propulsion testing.  He has appeared on Cooking Channel, Man Fire Food in addition to being featured on Podcast and various print media from Southern Living Daily South to Times Picayune.   He has spoken at Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at Louisiana State University, Delaware State University, and Morris College to name a few.  He has curated, lectured and demonstrated culinary history at Dillard University Ray Charles African American Material Culture Program, Southern Food and Beverage Museum where he is also a Research Fellow, and Slow Food Nations.

Zella Palmer

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Zella Palmer, Author, Educator, Filmmaker, Scholar, Chair and Director of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture. Palmer previously served as a curator at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago. She has also collaborated on projects with the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans, Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum and the City of Toronto Collections in Canada. Palmer is currently completing a documentary (The Story of New Orleans Creole Cooking: The Black Hand in the Pot) with Dillard University Ray Charles Program students about the history and contributions of African-Americans to New Orleans Creole Cuisine and finishing her next cookbook. In 2016, she was a guest speaker for NYU Food Studies, Nicholls State University and Maryville University. Palmer serves on the advisory board for (NOBIA) New Orleans Black Indians Alliance, Nellie Murray Feast Steering Committee, New Orleans Arts & Council Coalition and Longvue House & Gardens.