Conversations at Copia Panelist Bios
Culture and Cuisine
Rick Bayless is dedicated to bringing Mexican cuisine to the wider American audience through his public television series, Mexico: One Plate at a Time; his renowned Chicago-based restaurants, Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco, Leña Brava, Cerveceria Cruz Blanca, and the recently opened Bar Sotano; and his nine cookbooks. Both Frontera Grill and Topolobampo have received the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant award. Rick and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to support small Midwestern farms. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly 200 grants totaling more than $2 million. He also launched the Frontera Scholarship, a culinary school scholarship for Mexican-American students in Chicago. The Government of Mexico awarded Rick the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle—the highest decoration bestowed on foreigners whose work has benefitted Mexico and its people.
Known for her inventive take on modern soul food and comfort classics, Tanya Holland is the executive chef/owner of the famous and beloved Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurants, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The author of The Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook and New Soul Cooking, she competed in 2017 on Bravo’s Top Chef, and was the host and soul food expert on Food Network’s Melting Pot. Her Brown Sugar Kitchen has received multiple Michelin Bib Gourmand awards. An in-demand public speaker and lecturer, Tanya frequently leads the conversation on inclusion and equity in the hospitality industry. She has contributed articles to various magazines including Sunset, Food & Wine, Signature Bride, and Wine Enthusiast. Tanya has appeared as a special guest on countless national television shows including Sara Moulton’s Cooking Live; Ready, Set, Cook!; and PBS The Great American Chefs Tour. She has served as the president of the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffiers San Francisco chapter. Tanya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Russian Language and Literature from the University of Virginia, as well as a Grande Diplôme from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Burgundy, France.
Emiliana Puyana ’02
Emiliana Puyana’s time spent in her family’s kitchen in Venezuela taught her that food has the ability to bring and keep people together. She landed her first restaurant job at the age of 15 in Caracas and has continued cooking ever since. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in 2002, Emiliana decided to make the move from New York to San Francisco. During her time in the Bay Area, she honed her skills at such establishments as La Folie, Salt House, and Marla Bakery. In 2011, she joined La Cocina’s incubator program—which cultivates low-income food entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses—enabling her to start her own pickling business—Jarred SF Brine. After three years of running her own food business, Emiliana made the tough decision to move on to her next food adventure. She is back at La Cocina, but this time as program manager. And Emiliana is excited to give back to an organization and community that has given so much to her. To her, La Cocina is like a mini UN General Assembly, where the common language spoken is food.
Michael Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter who personally strives to prepare, preserve, understand, and promote African American foodways, traditions, and diaspora in the food culture of the American South. His blog, afroculinaria.com supports these efforts. As a Jewish black man, Michael is uniquely positioned to explore how our complex heritage and identities get expressed through our food. Michaels book, The Cooking Gene, is the result of his personal mission to document the connection between food history and family history from Africa to America, from slavery to freedom. The book won the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Awards for both Book of the Year and Writing. The book was also a finalist for The Kirkus Prize in nonfiction and the Art of Eating Prize, and a Barnes and Noble New Discoveries finalist in nonfiction.
Food for Good
Passionate author, chef, cyclist and philanthropist, Chris Cosentino is co-owner of San Francisco’s celebrated Cockscomb restaurant, Jackrabbit in Portland, OR, Acacia House at Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel in the Napa Valley, and the upcoming Cosentino’s Rosalie Italian Soul in Houston, TX with partner Oliver Wharton and parent company Delicious MFG & CO. Cosentino is the author of the James Beard Award-nominated cookbook for a single subject, Offal Good: Cooking from the Heart with Guts (2017), and 2012 cookbook Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal. Cosentino won season four of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, and is a member of Chefs Cycle. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Tatiana, and son Easton.
Daniel Giusti ’04
Dan Giusti is the founder of Brigaid, a company where a team of experienced and dedicated chefs collaborate with partner K-12 schools to help transform the way students eat by ultimately helping schools return to scratch cooking. He left a highly successful three-year stint as head chef of Noma in Copenhagen—named #1 on The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list during his tenure there—and came back to the States to start Brigaid. A graduate of the CIA who was exposed to fine dining and unique ingredients during his internship at Aureole in New York City, Dan worked at Guy Savoy, the two Michelin-star restaurant in Las Vegas, NV. He went from there to become executive chef a 1789 in Washington, DC. Dan’s drive to bring healthy and delicious school lunches to the 31 million students in the National School Lunch Program, originated in part in his own family, where love and care was always shown through great food. Dan received an associate degree in culinary arts from The Culinary Institute of America in 2004.
Matt Jozwiak’s career evolved from his days as a dishwasher and prep cook during college to exposure to fine dining while training at Auberge de Lile Barbe in France and Noma in Copenhagen. Upon his return to the U.S. in 2012, he developed his management skills at Chicago’s The Little Market and later as a chef de partie at Sixteen, where he was part of the team responsible for the restaurant receiving two Michelin stars. Always wishing to give back to his community, Matt became part of the Insurgo Project—an educational program that teaches basic cooking skills to kids from low-income communities. While being involved there, he worked at the Nomad and Eleven Madison Park in New York City. Throughout his career, Matt has witnessed first-hand the extent to which perfectly good food goes to waste in restaurants. In 2016, he launched Rethink Food NYC; taking part-time work as a private chef so he had time to fundraise for his organization. Matt’s dream finally came to fruition when full-time operations began in 2018.
Michel Nischan is a four-time James Beard Foundation award-winning chef with more than 35 years of leadership advocating for a more healthful, sustainable food system. He is the founder and president of Wholesome Crave, a food company selling responsibly sourced, plant-forward soups to large-scale dining facilities. A portion of the gross sales from Wholesome Crave products benefit Wholesome Wave, a non-profit food equity organization. He is also co-founder of the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Action Network. Nischan and his Wholesome Wave partner, the late USDA Under-Secretary Gus Schumacher, were instrumental in securing large Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grants for food equity in the 2014 and 2018 Federal Farm Bills—permanently expanding affordable access to fruits and vegetables for low-income Americans. He is the author of three cookbooks on healthful and sustainable food. He serves on the board of the Jacques Pepin Foundation and on the advisory boards of Chefs Collaborative, Modern Farmer, Good Food Media Network, and The Culinary Institute of America.
Setting the Equity Table
Brandon Chrostowski ’06
Brandon Edwin Chrostowski is on a mission to change the trajectory for individuals re-entering society from prison. In 2007, he founded EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute. In 2011, his team began teaching in Grafton Correctional Facility, and shortly thereafter, he opened EDWINS, a fine French restaurant. In addition to all of this, Brandon opened EDWINS Second Chance Life Skills Center for living, working, and recreational enrichment. These three interlaced programs have resulted in graduating up to 100 individuals a year in to the restaurant and hospitality business with a 95% employment rate. Brandon’s mission was showcased in the Oscar-nominated documentary, Knife Skills. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from The Culinary Institute of America in 2006, Brandon worked in some of the finest restaurants including Charlie Trotters, Le Cirque, Picholine, Chantarelle, and Le Pavillion in the U.S., and three Michelin-star Lucas Carton in Paris, France. In 2008, he was Certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and he was awarded the 2014 Movers and Shakers award, the Whitney Young Jr. Award from the Urban League, Crains magazine’s 40 under 40 award, as well as the nomination for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2015, he received the Cornuelle Award from the Manhattan Institute recognizing new ideas led by social innovators.
Traci Des Jardins
Traci Des Jardins has been a part of the San Francisco food scene for 25 years. Classically trained in French cuisine by some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world, Traci’s style is also influenced by her Mexican and French-Acadian grandparents, who taught her how to cook and gave her a passion for food. Before opening her iconic restaurant Jardinière in 1997, Traci honed her skills in some of the most highly acclaimed kitchens in Los Angeles, France, and New York City. She currently runs a diverse group of eateries, including her iconic Jardinière, Mijita Cocina Mexicana, and Public House. In 2018, she launched School Night SF offering hand-crafted pisco, agave, and whiskey cocktails with Mexican-influenced snacks. Traci is the culinary advisor to Impossible Foods, which launched the innovative Impossible Burger. Known as one of the top female chefs in the country, she is a two-time James Beard Foundation Award-recipient, garnering the 1995 Rising Star Chef of the Year and 2007 Best Chef: Pacific awards.
Angela Dunleavy-Stowell is CEO at FareStart, a James Beard Award-winning nonprofit organization that transforms lives, disrupts poverty and nourishes communities through food, life skills and job training. FareStart provides hands on training to students through its social enterprise cafes, restaurants and catering operations and provides over 900,000 meals to the Greater Seattle community each year. Since 1992, FareStart has offered life-changing human services to more than 10,000 adults and youth, while serving over 10.7 million meals to Seattle area schools, homeless shelters and healthcare facilities. Prior to FareStart, Angela was co-founder and CEO to Ethan Stowell Restaurants for 11 years where she oversaw 16 restaurants. Angela is on the Board of Directors for United Way of King County, the Seattle-King County Workforce Development Council and the Downtown Seattle Association. She has been honored as one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 2017 Women of Influence and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met magazine.
Alycia Harshfield is executive director of the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF), the philanthropic arm of the statewide advocacy group working on behalf of the Golden State’s 90,000 restaurant locations. She brought her extensive background in nonprofit administration and passion for charitable fundraising, when she joined CRAF in 2009. In 2016, she took the lead at CRAF—which was founded in 1981 and has awarded nearly $1.8 million in scholarships in its 38-year history—to increase its support of educational initiatives and the state’s foodservice worker population of nearly 1.5 million. In Alycia’s time with the Foundation, she has established several successful new programs, including Force in Training (FIT™), which focus on job readiness training for youth, and Restaurants Care®, an emergency assistance fund for restaurant workers facing unforeseen hardship. She is a longtime member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is active with the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers.
Kwame Onwuachi ’13
Kwame Onwuachi graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 2013 and has been on a trajectory of success ever since. He is the 2019 James Beard Rising Star Award-winner; executive chef at Kith and Kin in Washington, DC; author of Notes from a Young Black Chef; and owner of the Washington-based Philly Wing Fry franchise. Raised in New York City, Nigeria, and Louisiana, Kwame first developed a passion for cooking helping out in his mother’s small catering company, which she ran out of their Bronx apartment. He got experience working as a cook on a ship feeding clean-up crews after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and, then, waiting tables at Craft in New York City. Kwame enrolled at the CIA and took his internship at Per Se. He worked as a line cook at Eleven Madison Park after graduation. Ambition drove him to open Shaw Bijou in Washington, DC, which closed quickly. But in 2017, Kwame became executive chef at Kith and Kin, serving Afro-Caribbean cuisine. The restaurant has received excellent reviews. In 2019, he authored a memoir, Notes from a Young Black Chef. Kwame was named the 2019 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year, one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, and was included on the Zagat and Forbes 30 under 30 list.