Umber Ahmad is the Founder and Chef of Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, a luxury pastry concept based in New York City. She and Mah-Ze-Dahr have been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, Martha Stewart, Food & Wine, and Buzzfeed, among others. Prior to creating Mah-Ze-Dahr, Umber had a prolific career on Wall Street with Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and, ultimately, co-founding her own firm. She holds a BS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MPH from The University of Michigan and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel has shaken up the pastry world with innovation and creativity at the heart of his work. As Chef/Owner of eponymous bakeries in New York, London, and Los Angeles, as well as his first-ever restaurant which recently launched in Los Angeles, Chef Dominique has been responsible for creating some of the most fêted pastries in the world, including: the Cronut® (named one of TIME Magazine’s “25 Best inventions of 2013”), The Cookie Shot, Frozen S’more, Blossoming Hot Chocolate, and many more. Prior to opening his own shop, Dominique served as the Executive Pastry Chef for restaurant Daniel, when the team earned its coveted third Michelin star and a four-star review from the New York Times. He opened his first shop in 2011 with just four employees.
Jenni Avins is the global lifestyle correspondent at Quartz, where she covers culture, lifestyle, and the burgeoning cannabis industry. She also writes the weekly email newsletter, Quartzy. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Wall Street Journal, VICE, Saveur, Gourmet, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue.com. As a recent LA transplant, she's ever improving as a dinner party-host and surfer. If you see her back in New York, she's likely to be knitting on the subway.
Tracee Chimo Pallero
Broadway, TV, and Film actor Tracee Chimo Pallero is known for playing Neri Feldman on Orange is the New Black and Nina Cummings on Madam Secretary. Her film work includes Sully, opposite Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood, The Five Year Engagement, opposite Emily Blunt, Private Life, opposite Paul Giamatti, Blackhat, directed by Michael Mann, and a new film, The Sound of Silence, opposite Rashida Jones currently at Sundance. Tracee is an Obie, Drama Desk, and Lucille Lortel Award winner for her work originating the roles of Lauren in Circle Mirror Transformation and Daphna in Bad Jews. Her Broadway work includes: The Heidi Chronicles, opposite Elisabeth Moss, Noises Off, opposite Andrea Martin, Harvey, opposite Jim Parsons, and Irena’s Vow.
Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women, and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming and is also at work on television and film projects.
Born in Deep Run, N.C. to tobacco and hog farming parents, Vivian Howard’s upbringing was steeped in the Southern food traditions of her neighbors. After college, Vivian moved to New York to work in advertising, but soon transitioned to the city’s food and restaurant scene, working with Scott Barton of Voyage, Wylie Dufresne and Sam Mason of WD~50 and later, with Jean Georges Vongerichten at his critically-acclaimed Spice Market. In 2005, Vivian returned to Kinston, N.C. to open her first award-winning restaurant, Chef & the Farmer, followed by the Boiler Room, Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, and Handy & Hot.
In 2012, Vivian and director Cynthia Hill premiered A Chef’s Life, the award-winning documentary television series celebrating eastern North Carolina food traditions. The series has segued into a new series to premiere in 2019, where the hour-long, primetime show will tell food stories of the American South in the context of global food traditions.
In October 2016, Vivian released her first cookbook, Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South, published by Little, Brown & Co. A comprehensive record of modern Southern cooking, filled with stories and more than 200 recipes that celebrate the flavors of her eastern North Carolina home, Deep Run Roots catapulted to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List. Vivian is currently working on her second book.
Andrew Knowlton is the Editor-at-Large of Bon Appétit magazine and the host of Netflix's The Final Table. Formerly, he was the magazine's Restaurant Editor, where he wrote features and monthly columns including The BA Foodist and The Hot 10. His blog, The BA Foodist, was nominated for a 2009 James Beard Award. He has appeared as a judge on The Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef America and Iron Chef America as well as on NBC’s Chopping Block, CBS, Fox, and NPR.
Chef Emeril Lagasse is the chef/proprietor of 11 restaurants and the bestselling author of 19 cookbooks. As a national TV personality, he has hosted more than 2,000 shows on the Food Network, and is the food correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America. Lagasse has appeared as a guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, was named a co-host of the Rachael Ray Show, and has appeared on the Cooking Channel with five seasons of Emeril’s Florida. In 2002, Emeril and his wife Alden established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children's educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating, and important life skills. Lagasse's restaurant company, Emeril's Homebase, is located in New Orleans and houses culinary operations and a test kitchen for recipe development.
Emmy-nominated Padma Lakshmi is internationally known as a food expert, model, actress and bestselling author, as well as the recipient of the 2016 NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor and Variety’s 2018 Karma award. Lakshmi serves as host and an executive producer of Bravo’s Emmy award-winning Top Chef, which is currently in its 16th season.
Lakshmi established herself as a food expert early in her career, having hosted two successful cooking shows and writing the best-selling Easy Exotic, which won the “Best First Book” award at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Lakshmi followed this success with the publication of her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet. In 2016, she released her food memoir, The New York Times bestselling Love, Loss and What We Ate, which also won “Best Lifestyle, Body & Soul” at the 2017 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, followed by The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs.
Acclaimed actor Kyle MacLachlan has brought indelible charm and a quirky sophistication to some of film and television's most memorable roles. MacLachlan is perhaps best known for his performance as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper in David Lynch’s ground-breaking series Twin Peaks, for which he received two Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe Award. MacLachlan made his feature film debut in the science fiction classic Dune. This was followed by a second collaboration with Lynch in the critically-acclaimed film Blue Velvet. On television, he starred in Desperate Housewives and Sex & The City, and more recently has appeared on Portlandia, How I Met Your Mother, The Good Wife, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
For the past ten years, MacLachlan has channeled his strong interest in the world of wine into a second, equally satisfying professional pursuit. His Pursued by Bear label has already produced three highly rated wines: Pursued by Bear Cabernet, Baby Bear Syrah, and his most recent Blushing Bear Rosé.
James Pomerantz is a Brooklyn-based based food photographer and photo editor. His work has appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, New York Times, Rolling Stone, London Sunday Times Magazine and the recently published Boqueria Cookbook. As a photo editor, he can often be found at the New York Times’s food desk. Once upon a time, he graduated from Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School and worked in various restaurant kitchens before swapping his knife for a camera. He doesn’t glow like Gwyneth and he’s not as dapper as Tim Gunn. He’s never slayed a vampire and while he certainly isn’t all that, he is what he is.
Antoni Porowski is best known as the Food & Wine Connoisseur on Netflix’s Emmy-winning hit series Queer Eye. A self-taught cook with experience in kitchens from Montréal to New York, Antoni is also part-owner of the Manhattan eatery, The Village Den. Antoni serves on City Harvest’s Food Council of top chefs and culinary experts, where he supports organization’s work rescuing and delivering food for hungry New Yorkers. His own cookbook, Antoni in the Kitchen, is slated for release Fall 2019.
Matt Sartwell is the Managing Partner of Kitchen Arts & Letters, an NYC bookstore specializing in food and drink. He’s the store generalist, doing a lot of weeknight cooking, occasional sweet and savory baking, preserving, and dabbling everywhere. (Cookbooks are to him as shiny things to a magpie.) A former editor at Penguin, he has also been chair of the James Beard Foundation's Book Awards.
Emily Weinstein is a deputy food editor at The New York Times, the editor of NYT Cooking and the author of the new Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter. She has also edited several of The Times's most ambitious interactive projects around food, and received a James Beard Foundation Award in 2018 for innovative storytelling.
Meg Wolitzer is a novelist whose recent books include The Female Persuasion, The Interestings, and The Wife. The film adaptation of The Wife, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, was recently released. She lives in New York City.