In 2011, Peter began working with Dave Arnold on launching MOFAD. Since then, he has overseen all aspects of the project's development, including the opening of the museum's first brick-and-mortar space in October 2015. He and MOFAD have been featured in The New York Times, New Yorker, NPR, and Wall Street Journal, and he has spoken widely about the museum's dynamic approach. He has worked as a hunger policy advocate, public health educator, and international litigator, and he founded and directed L'Art de Vivre, an arts education nonprofit in Cameroon. He holds a BA from Brown University, a JD from the University of Pennsylvania, Master's degrees from both Sciences Po and the Sorbonne in Paris, and an amateur certificate from the French Culinary Institute.
James L. Phelan, Managing Director
Hailing from Southern California, James grew up on a half-acre tending raised-bed gardens, backyard orchards, and a cast of barnyard animals—internalizing the unspoken power of food to unite and build community; connect families, cultures, and countries; and indelibly link us to nature and each other.
Food is also a powerful vehicle for discovery—a lens through which we can investigate and understand culture—and James was thrilled to join MOFAD in 2018 to head up fund development and donor relations. A fundraising, marketing, and communications strategist, James has worked for environmental, humanitarian, human rights, and gender equality causes—with Changing Our World, Equality Now, and Action Against Hunger, among others—and holds a BA in history and international relations and a Master’s in social science.
As a storyteller and brand builder, James enjoys distilling and marketing an organization’s essence so audiences understand why it matters, why they should care, and how they can help.
Catherine Piccoli, Curator
Catherine brings a multidisciplinary approach to the team. As a food historian and writer, her work focuses on the intersection of food, culture, memory, and place. As Curator at MOFAD, she leads the educational department, overseeing exhibitions, public programming, and school visits. She was instrumental in the research, writing, and development of past exhibitions, Flavor: Making It and Faking It and Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant, and established the museum’s robust public programming. Previously, Catherine worked as a researcher at the Chicago Historical Society and the Heinz History Center, and has written for a number of major publications. She holds a Master’s degree in Food Studies from Chatham University and a Bachelor’s with honors in Social and Cultural History from Carnegie Mellon University. Currently, Catherine is working on MOFAD’s upcoming exhibition.
Irina Groushevaia, Floor Manager
Irina joined MOFAD in Spring 2018 as the floor manager, making sure all operations are running smoothly and ensuring every patron has an unforgettable experience. Originally from Russia, Irina was always interested in the differences of food culture and cooking and how it affects society. Irina has published many articles and photo essays regarding modern food policy, food culture and food justice. She graduated Baruch College with honors in 2016 with a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing and in her free time runs an Eastern-European pop-up shop slinging fresh pierogies in bars of Brooklyn.
John Hutt, Executive Chef
John is a lifelong chef with a passion and interest in theory, history, science and culture of food. He has opened restaurants, written papers, cooked a lot of food for a lot of people, and travelled the world eating and drinking delicious things. He came to MOFAD from the El Bulli institute in Barcelona, where he was working on the theory and practice of food and cooking.
Jean Nihoul, Curatorial Associate
Having formerly worked as a cook in NYC, as the Assistant Curator of the William Benton Museum of Art, and as an Adjunct Professor of Art History at the University of Connecticut, Jean is able to bring a diverse set of experiences to the Museum of Food and Drink. At MOFAD, Jean focuses on exhibition research and design, social media outreach, as well as management of the museum's permanent collection. He earned his Master's degree in Art History from UConn where he began the research that he still continues today, which focuses on the relationship between aesthetic taste and gustatory taste.
Loren Silber, Museum Educator
Joanna Stevens, Private Events Coordinator
Joanna's favorite seat is across the table from anyone excited to share a story, hear a story, and enjoy how great food influences the stories we share.
Joanna oversees all private events at MOFAD, including personal celebrations, high-end dining experiences, and brand-sponsored events. Joanna's background in fine dining service and theatre give her a unique voice on our team to advocate for both the foodies and the newbies that walk through our doors. Additionally, her passion for how food affects conversations, connections, and communities led her to bring her "Yoga Dinners" series to MOFAD.
Adama Orr, Visitor Services Associate
Dressler Parsons, Visitor Services Associate
Dressler is a heart-on-her-sleeve nerd about food history, with a particular interest in pastries. At any given moment, she's either researching obscure niches of pastry history, dreaming up a new pastry, recipe-testing, or reading a book about food. With degrees in Marketing (BS) and Intermedia (BFA) from Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, she's a certified jack-of-all-trades. If you mention citrus around her, there is a 100% chance she will bring up how the mafia got its start in the lemon industry–depending on your personal viewpoint, this might make her someone who’s a lot of fun at dinner parties.