Johanna Mendelson Forman is a premier expert on gastrodiplomacy, social gastronomy and how food is central to survival and resilience in the world’s most active conflict zones. Her groundbreaking work is derived from her distinguished career as a practitioner and policymaker working with the U.S. government, the United Nations and the World Bank. She is one of the leading voices in the global Social Gastronomy Network, a movement that is helping a new generation of chefs and food activists address a wide range of issues including climate change, food waste, sustainability and global hunger.
Her extensive list of professional credentials includes her ongoing roles as an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service and Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center, where she heads the Food Security Program. In 2015, her accomplished career in international affairs led her to create Conflict Cuisine®: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table – a curriculum designed to educate about food security, gastrodiplomacy and the issues she about which she is so passionate. The creation of Conflict Cuisine® expanded Johanna’s work to address the relationship between food entrepreneurship, gender and inclusion.
Johanna is a highly regarded expert in the specific regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, with extensive field experience in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Central America Colombia and Brazil. As such, she is frequently featured by national media including the Wall Street Journal, NPR and CNN. She has also authored a number of opinion pieces in prominent publications, most recently The Hill (February 2021).
She holds a JD from Washington College of Law at American University, a PhD in Latin American History from Washington University, St. Louis, and a Master’s of International Affairs from Columbia University. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College.
In 2017, she helped launch the Livelihoods In Food Entrepreneurship Project (LIFE), a consortium of organizations under the Center for Private and International Enterprise. This program, which is supported by the U.S. State Department, aids Syrian refugees and Turks using food entrepreneurship as a tool for social integration. In 2019, she co-edited the LIFE Project cookbook of recipes contributed by refugees, The Cuisines of Life: Stories and Recipes of the New Food Entrepreneurs of Turkey.
On this episode, Johanna joins host Mitchell Davis and provides us an understanding of gastrodiplomacy, explores social gastronomy and offers perspective on the paradoxical power food has to both create and resolve conflicts.
More episodes from "What's Burning"
047: Barb Stuckey - Author of Taste and Chief Innovation & Marketing Officer at Mattson
1:02:05Barb grew up in Baltimore and spent much of her childhood in a Chinese restaurant. It was there that she developed a love for food as well as the frantic energy and deep hospitality that restaurants generate. She has an undergraduate business degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and a Masters Degree in Hospitality from the Cornell Hotel School. Barb has been at Mattson since 1997 and is currently Chief Innovation & Marketing Officer at North America’s most successful independent developer of foods and beverages. Mattson provides insights, strategy, innovation and product development services to retail CPGs, foodservice suppliers, ingredients suppliers, chain restaurants, and supplement companies. Barb is known as a taste, food trend, innovation, consumer insights, and product development expert. As part of Barb’s role in the innovation projects that make up her daily job, she is required to taste food and figure out how to make it better. After more than 2 decades doing this, she’s honed her tasting skills and ability to help others make food taste better. She shared this insight with the world when her book Taste: Surprising Stories & Science About Why Food Tastes Good was published in 2013. The paperback version is simply titled TASTE. Barb was instrumental in helping The San Francisco Cooking School integrate the science of taste into their curriculum by teaching the fundamentals of taste to each incoming class during the school’s 10 years in San Francisco. Barb has served on non-profit boards including La Cocina, San Francisco’s incubator for low-income women of color, The Plant Based Food Association, and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine & Food Science at the University of California, Davis, and Mattson. Barb is also a contributor to Forbes.com where she writes about the food industry. Barb is a performer at heart, and has given dozens of talks across the food and beverage industry, as well as a short TED Talk on umami at the main TED Conference on the mainstage in Long Beach. Barb lives with her hyper-taster husband and two artisan cats, and splits her time between San Francisco and Healdsburg, in the heart of Sonoma wine country. She can be bribed with good tomatoes. On this episode, Barb joins host Mitchell Davis and explores the concepts of “taste empathy” and “stomach share,” plus discusses the importance of learning how to taste critically in order to cook. Follow Barb on Instagram @barbstuckey and LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/barb-stuckey-3110b51/ For more on Barb and Mattson, visit: www.MattsonCo.com
046: Dana Cowin – Founder, Speaking Broadly
55:22Dana Cowin is an award-winning tastemaker and innovator in media, food and branding. After 21 years as the Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine magazine, Cowin launched Speaking Broadly, an independent media company to promote less-established voices in the worlds of food, creativity and sustainability and to deepen our understanding of ourselves as well as the pleasure of travel, cooking, eating. The company produces a podcast, zine and events. Her current project is Feeding Broadly, an uplifting dinner series that highlights the power of regenerative ingredients and intimate conversations. As part of her work to empower the leader within all of us, Cowin also coaches executive teams, founders and creatives and consults for fast casual and consumer packaged goods brands. Cowin is a sought-after speaker with appearances on Top Chef and Beat Bobby Flay, moderating panels at places like SXSW and the 92nd Street Y, delivering keynotes on empowerment, food and entrepreneurship. Cowin is on the board of Food Education Fund, Hot Bread Kitchen, the Food Council of City Harvest and Culinary Council of God's Love We Deliver. On this episode, she joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses personal storytelling through food, the importance of shaping menus to protect the planet, and how curiosity contributes to a chef’s success. Follow Dana Cowin on Instagram at @fwscout and @speakingbroadly For more on Dana and her work, visit: danacowin.com
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045: Alon Turkaspa - AgriFood Tech Sector Lead at Start-Up Nation Central
54:03Alon Turkaspa is an agrifood tech visionary and expert, dedicated to using tech and science to solve global challenges. With a background in physics and an MBA from Tel Aviv University, he spent almost a decade in the semiconductor industry before pure luck led him to revolutionize livestock farming. Alon's passion for agritech extended to working with startups tackling tough challenges in crops, poultry, and indoor farming. He strongly believes that feeding the world’s population in a healthy and sustainable way can be achieved by seamlessly integrating food tech and science with startups, large food companies, and the collective creativity of chefs and food visionaries. Now managing the agrifood tech sector at Start-Up Nation, he supports over 750 startups, empowering Israel's high tech to drive global solutions. Alon cherishes his family life, and is married to Lior, with three children: Noam, Lia, and Gali. His unwavering commitment to fostering innovative solutions reflects his belief that a brighter, more sustainable future is within reach. On this episode, Alon joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses Israel’s dynamic agritech scene, how the food industry is tackling global challenges, and cutting edge techniques to make what we eat healthier. Follow Alon on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alonturkaspa/ To learn more about Start-Up Nation Central, visit: https://startupnationcentral.org/ To learn more about Israeli startups and ecosystem players, visit: https://finder.startupnationcentral.org/ Companies working in the agritech space with several mentioned in the episode, include: BlueTree: Reduces sugar content (up to 50%) from a 100% squeezed natural orange juice. Visit: https://bluetree-tech.com/ Tastewise: Accelerates growth with AI expertise for food and beverage market intelligence for real-time innovation, marketing, and sales. Visit: https://tastewise.io/home Vanilla Vida: Makes natural flavors more available and affordable, while liberating food companies from the dependence on synthetic materials. Visit: https://vanillavida.com/ Wonder Veggies: Agrifoodtech innovators on a mission to revolutionize the vegetable market by marrying the benefits of fresh vegetables with healthy probiotics. Visit: https://wonderveggies.co/ myAir: A data-driven smart-food company, offering a personalized nutritional solution to deal with the number 1 silent killer in the world: chronic stress. Visit: https://myair.ai/ Maolac: By tapping into functional proteins that are 95% biosimilar to breast milk, they are making nature’s best nutrition available for everyone. Visit: https://www.maolac.com/ Amai: Replaces sugar with a healthy sweet protein that tastes like sugar. Visit: https://amaiproteins.com/
044: Leah Koenig - Food Writer & Cookbook Author
56:03Leah Koenig is the author of seven cookbooks including the acclaimed The Jewish Cookbook and Modern Jewish Cooking. Her newest cookbook, PORTICO: Cooking and Feasting in Rome's Jewish Kitchen will be published by W.W. Norton on August 29, 2023. (It is now available for pre-order) Leah's writing and recipes can be found in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Food & Wine, Epicurious, and Food52, among other publications. She also writes a weekly newsletter, The Jewish Table, which shares recipes and stories from the world of Jewish food. In addition to writing, Leah leads cooking demonstrations and workshops around the country and world. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and two children. On this episode, Leah joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses kashrut as a major through-line of Jewish cuisine, navigating the world of cookbook publishing, and why climate change is our most burning issue today. Follow Leah on Instagram: @leah.koenig For more on Leah, visit: thejewishtable.substack.com & leahkoenig.com
043: Ari Weinzweig – CEO & Co-Founding Partner, Zingerman's Community of Businesses
1:07:54Ari Weinzweig is CEO and co-founding partner of Zingerman's Community of Businesses, which includes Zingerman's Delicatessen, Bakehouse, Creamery, Catering, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Coffee Company, Roadhouse, Candy Manufactory, Events at Cornman Farms, Miss Kim and Zingerman’s Food Tours. Zingerman’s produces, sells and serves all sorts of full flavored, traditional foods in its home of Ann Arbor, Michigan to the tune of $68,000,000 a year in annual sales. Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the 2006 James Beard Foundation and has awarded a Bon Appetit Lifetime Achievement Award among many recognitions. Ari is the author of a number of articles and books, including Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating, Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon (Zingerman’s Press), Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service, Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating (Houghton Mifflin), Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 1: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business, and Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, Part 2: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Being a Better Leader. Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, Part 3; A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to Managing Ourselves. Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, Part 4; A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business was released in summer of 2016. In 2017 Ari was named one of “The World's 10 Top CEOs (They Lead in a Totally Unique Way)” by Inc. Magazine. In 2018 Ari released the pamphlet, “The Art of Business; Why I Want to be an Artist.” Another pamphlet, “Going into Business with Emma Goldman” came out in June, 2019. “Humility; A Humble, Anarchistic Inquiry” came out in October, 2020. “Working Through Hard Times; Life and Leadership Learnings from 2020” was published in the first weeks of 2021 and Ari’s most recent work, “The Story of Visioning at Zingerman’s: Four Visions, Forty Years, and a Positive Look Towards the Future,” came out in the spring of 2022. His newest work is another pamphlet, “A Taste of Zingerman’s Food Philosophy: Forty Years of Mindful Cooking and Eating.” On this episode, Ari joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses the importance of having a vision, the imperfect craft of hiring, and the need to infuse dignity into an organization. Follow Zingerman’s on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter For more on Zingerman’s, visit: zingermansdeli.com. To place an order, visit: zingermans.com. For Zingerman’s books, visit: zingermanspress.com For Zingerman’s training, visit: zingtrain.com Ari may be reached at: [email protected]
042: Andrea Borghini - Philosopher of Food, Associate Professor at University of Milan, Italy
1:02:49Andrea Borghini is Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Milan, Italy, and Director of Culinary Mind, an international center promoting philosophical thinking on food with a multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approach. His research develops theoretical tools to rethink how we speak, structure, sense, and feel about food, eating, and culinary cultures. Born and raised in two small towns of central Tuscany, he professionally trained and worked in New York City and the Boston area for over 15 years. His recent articles include: ‘Seven Philosophical Questions About Recipes’ (Bloomsbury, 2022); ‘Cooking and Dining as Forms of Public Art’ (Food, Culture, and Society, 2021, with Andrea Baldini); 'Hot Grapes: How to Locally Redesign Geographical Indications to Address the Impact of Climate Change' (with Nicola Piras and Beatrice Serini), World Development Sustainability, Volume 2 (2023); 'The Justice and Ontology of Gastrospaces' (with Matteo Bonotti, Nicola Piras, and Beatrice Serini), Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2023). ‘Defective Food Concepts’ (Synthese, 2021, with Nicola Piras and Beatrice Serini); ‘Eating Local: A Philosophical Toolbox’ (Philosophical Quarterly, 2021, with Nicola Piras and Beatrice Serini); ‘From Obesity to Energy Metabolism. Ontological Perspectives on the Metrics of Human Bodies’ (Topoi, 2021, with DavideSerpico); Andrea co-edited the collection of essays: A Philosophy of Recipes: Making, Experiencing, and Valuing (Bloomsbury, 2022, co-curated with Patrik Engisch). On this episode, Andrea joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses the philosophical implications of cooking, deriving meaning through food, and the question of who really owns a recipe. For more on Andrea, visit: https://sites.unimi.it/borghini/ and https://www.culinarymind.org/
041: David Rockwell - Founder and President, Rockwell Group
53:41Long before turning his attention to architecture, David Rockwell, FAIA, had a fascination with immersive environments. Growing up in the United States and Guadalajara, Mexico, David was a child of the theater, and was often cast in community repertory productions by his mother, a vaudeville dancer and choreographer. There, he experienced the power of collaboration in service of a shared artistic goal and witnessed the ways in which narrative and design created meaning and lasting memories. Later, he would bring his passion for theater and curator’s eye for the color and spectacle of Mexico to his practice. Through this unique lens, David founded Rockwell Group in 1984. Now a 300-person, cross-disciplinary architecture and design firm based in New York with satellite offices in Los Angeles and Madrid, Rockwell Group emphasizes invention and thought leadership. Merging architecture, theater, craftsmanship, and technology to create unique narratives for each project, the firm’s work includes hospitality, theaters, cultural and educational institutions, transportation hubs, set design, products, exhibitions, festivals, and urban interventions that engage the public realm. Projects include the Perelman Performing Arts Center in New York (Restaurant and Lobby Interior Architect); 555 Pennsylvania Avenue and Hopkins Student Center for Johns Hopkins University (Washington, D.C. and Baltimore); Coqodaq, a new restaurant concept from Simon Kim (New York); Nobu restaurants and hotels worldwide; One Madison Avenue (New York); CIVILIAN Hotel (New York); City Harvest's Cohen Community Food Rescue Center (Brooklyn); Zaytinya (New York). David Rockwell’s latest book, DRAMA, developed in collaboration with designer Bruce Mau was published by Phaidon in May 2021. Honors include the National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; the Presidential Design Award; the AIANY President’s Award; two Emmy Awards; a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design for She Loves Me; the 2009 Pratt Legends Award; induction into the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America; Interior Design magazine’s Hall of Fame; and inclusion in Architectural Digest’s AD100. Known for his commitment to non-profit and community organizations, David Rockwell serves as the Chair Emeritus of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and as a board member of Citymeals on Wheels and New York Restoration Project. On this episode, David joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses the intersection of theatre, hospitality and architecture, restaurants as the ultimate public square, and the difference between a dive and a dump. Follow Rockwell Group on Instagram @rockwellgroup and LinkedIn @rockwellgroup For more on the Rockwell Group, visit: www.rockwellgroup.com
040: Elizabeth Blau - CEO, Blau + Associates
47:19James Beard Award Nominee Elizabeth Blau is recognized for the impact of her leadership, innovation and philanthropy over a nearly four-decade career. Elizabeth is widely credited with transforming Las Vegas into a world-class culinary destination. Today, she is known for helping shape the global dining scene by bringing award winning chefs and restaurateurs to international real estate mixed use projects as well as luxury resort developments. In 2002, she founded Blau + Associates, expanding it into one of the leading restaurant development and consulting companies. Along with her husband Chef Kim Canteenwalla, she operates successful signature restaurants including Honey Salt in Las Vegas and Vancouver, Buddy’s V’s Ristorante on the Las Vegas Strip, Crown Block Restaurant at the Reunion Tower in Dallas and a portfolio of acclaimed restaurants at the Parq Vancouver Resort & Casino. She also is author of “Honey Salt: A Culinary Scrapbook,” which was named Best Cookbook of 2018 by Food & Beverage Magazine. Recipient of the 2022 Cornell Hospitality Innovator award, Blau serves the global hospitality community through advisory and board roles for organizations such as École Hôtelière de Lausanne, the Cornell School of Hotel Administration (her alma mater), trustee emeritus of the Culinary Institute of America and global advisory board member emeritus at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. In 2020, she co-founded the non-profit Women’s Hospitality Initiative to develop and implement programs for women to achieve leadership positions in the restaurant industry. During the pandemic, Elizabeth co-created Delivering with Dignity, a program that has delivered over 750,000 chef prepared nutritious meals to the food insecure community. On this episode, Elizabeth joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses the high mortality rates of restaurants, the importance of experiential dining, and the need to address food insecurity. Follow Elizabeth on Instagram: @elizabthblau, Twitter: @elizabethblau1, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.blau.5 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabeth-blau-ba845b6/ For more on Elizabeth and Blau + Associates, visit: www.elizabethblau.com
039: Asaf "Dok" Doktor - Chef/Co-owner of Tel Aviv Restaurants: Ha’Achim, Dok & Abie
59:13Born in Caesarea on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Asaf Doktor, better known to his friends as Dok, turned his childhood love of food into a successful career as a chef, restaurateur and champion of local Israeli ingredients Along with his brother, Yotam, Dok, owns three of Tel Aviv’s most popular and interesting restaurants: Ha’Achim (“Brothers”); Abie, a seafood restaurant with an impressive 3m long wood fired grill; and Dok, a celebration of local Israeli ingredients. At Dok, all but one or two items in the entire restaurant, including at the bar, are sourced from within Israel. On this episode, Dok joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses valuing Israeli produce, celebrating seasonality, and the creativity that comes from cooking with limitations. Follow Dok and his restaurants on Instagram: @asafdok, @haachim_restaurant, @makolet.Haachim, @abie.restaurant, and @dok.restaurant. To learn more about Ha’achim, visit: https://www.haachim.co.il/
038: Johanna Mendelson Forman, PhD, JD - Adjunct Professor, American University’s School of International Service and Founder, Conflict Cuisine
57:14Johanna Mendelson Forman is a premier expert on gastrodiplomacy, social gastronomy and how food is central to survival and resilience in the world’s most active conflict zones. Her groundbreaking work is derived from her distinguished career as a practitioner and policymaker working with the U.S. government, the United Nations and the World Bank. She is one of the leading voices in the global Social Gastronomy Network, a movement that is helping a new generation of chefs and food activists address a wide range of issues including climate change, food waste, sustainability and global hunger. Her extensive list of professional credentials includes her ongoing roles as an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service and Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center, where she heads the Food Security Program. In 2015, her accomplished career in international affairs led her to create Conflict Cuisine®: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table – a curriculum designed to educate about food security, gastrodiplomacy and the issues she about which she is so passionate. The creation of Conflict Cuisine® expanded Johanna’s work to address the relationship between food entrepreneurship, gender and inclusion. Johanna is a highly regarded expert in the specific regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, with extensive field experience in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Central America Colombia and Brazil. As such, she is frequently featured by national media including the Wall Street Journal, NPR and CNN. She has also authored a number of opinion pieces in prominent publications, most recently The Hill (February 2021). She holds a JD from Washington College of Law at American University, a PhD in Latin American History from Washington University, St. Louis, and a Master’s of International Affairs from Columbia University. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College. In 2017, she helped launch the Livelihoods In Food Entrepreneurship Project (LIFE), a consortium of organizations under the Center for Private and International Enterprise. This program, which is supported by the U.S. State Department, aids Syrian refugees and Turks using food entrepreneurship as a tool for social integration. In 2019, she co-edited the LIFE Project cookbook of recipes contributed by refugees, The Cuisines of Life: Stories and Recipes of the New Food Entrepreneurs of Turkey. On this episode, Johanna joins host Mitchell Davis and provides us an understanding of gastrodiplomacy, explores social gastronomy and offers perspective on the paradoxical power food has to both create and resolve conflicts.