Drummer, DJ, producer, culinary entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author and member of The Roots - Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is the unmistakable heartbeat of Philadelphia’s most influential hip-hop group. He is also the Musical Director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where his beloved Roots crew serves as house band. Questlove has appeared as a Guest Judge on Top Chef Season 11, his food has been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appétit, and the cover of New York Magazine and seen on The View, Watch What Happens Live, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He is a Celebrity Ambassador for The Food Bank NYC, he is on the City Harvest Food Council, and the first Artist-in-Residence at the Made in NY Media Center.
Elizabeth is the Founding Director of the Center for the Future of Museums (CFM). The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) established the CFM in 2008 to help museums understand the cultural, political, economic, environmental, and technological trends shaping the world, and envision how museums can help their communities thrive in coming decades. Prior to this, Ms. Merritt led the Excellence Programs at AAM - Accreditation, Museum Assessment, and Peer Review - as well as the association's research activities. Her books include National Standards and Best Practices for U.S. Museums and the AAM Guide to Collections Planning.
Harold writes and lectures about the science of cooking. He studied science at Caltech and literature at Yale, where he also taught. In 1984, he published the first edition of his prize-winning reference book On Food & Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen. In 2008, Time named him to its annual list of the world's most influential people. He has published original research in Nature and Physics Today, and has written many articles for magazines and newspapers, including a long-running column for the New York Times.
Jessica is the author of twelve cookbooks documenting the foods and foodways of the African Diaspora. Her most recent, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, won the International Association of Culinary Professionals 2012 Cookbook Award for Culinary History. She is a professor at Queens College/C.U.N.Y. and consultant to the Ray Charles Program in African American Material Culture at Dillard University, where she was the inaugural scholar in residence and established an Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures. She is an advisor for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Mario is one of the most recognized and respected chefs working today, with twenty-four restaurants, nine cookbooks, and a host of television shows, including ABC's "The Chew." He and his business partner, Joe Bastianich, own some of the country's most beloved dining destinations, including their flagship Manhattan enoteca, Babbo. In the summer of 2010, they opened Eataly, a 50,000 square foot marketplace in New York City. His cookbooks include the James Beard Award Winning Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes and New York Times Bestseller Mario Batali Italian Grill.
Nicola Twilley is a co-host of the award-winning Gastropod podcast, author of the blog Edible Geography, and a contributing writer at The New Yorker. She is deeply obsessed with refrigeration, and is currently writing a book on the topic for Penguin Press. She is also co-authoring a book about the past, present, and future of quarantine with Geoff Manaugh for Farrar, Straus & Giroux. In her spare time, she makes smog meringues as part of an ongoing exploration of the taste of "aeroir" with the Center for Genomic Gastronomy.
Rachel Laudan is author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History (University of California Press, 2013). Raised on an English farm, she received her Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science from University College London. After faculty positions at Carnegie-Mellon, Virginia Tech and the University of Hawaii, grants from Fulbright, NEH, and NSF, fellowships at the Davis Center, Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, and MIT, she moved to Mexico and turned to food history. The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary History (1996). She has twice won book awards from International Association of Culinary Professionals book awards, served as their Scholar-in-Residence, and been awarded the Sophie Coe Prize of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. In 2012 she moved to Austin, Texas.
Emma is an interdisciplinary curator and cultural programmer currently pursuing an MA in Public Humanities at Brown University. Previously, Emma was the founding Director of Exhibitions and Programming at MOFAD. In this capacity, she led research and production of Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant (2016), Flavor: Making It and Faking It (2015), as well as the pop-up exhibit BOOM! The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Cereal (2013). She also oversaw the museum's other educational initiatives, including MOFAD City; public, family, and school programs; and MOFAD Roundtable. She holds a BA in Art History from the University of Chicago, where she received top honors for her thesis on postwar design and architecture in the New York City subway.
Leslie Koch was the founding President of the Trust for Governors Island. Under her leadership from 2006 to 2016, Governors Island, a 70-hectare Island in the New York Harbor, was transformed from an obsolete military base into a dynamic public space. Koch led the Island’s activation with a strong focus on extraordinary, inclusive design and a unique, open approach to cultural programming. Koch has been the subject of extensive media coverage and an invited speaker at conferences worldwide. Previously she was the founding CEO of the Fund for Public Schools, an educational non profit in New York City and an executive at Microsoft. She received a masters in management from the Yale School of Management and a BA in history from Yale College awarded summa cum laude. She is now an independent advisor working on public private partnerships in the United States.