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.
Joanna Stevens, Private Events Coordinator
Tessa Nesta, Events Manager
Working as a ceramic artist in her spare time, Tessa has found that the perfect consistency for both pasta dough and making pottery is exactly the same. This tactile equivalent symbolizes her interest for both food and skilled trades.
Tessa’s experience has been formalized through working at her family’s Italian restaurant and producing high-end motorsport events for Audi Sport customer racing. After 8 years in the motorsports world she went on to fulfill a Master’s degree in Historic Preservation from Pratt Institute. She is particularly interested in preserving the intangible heritage symbolized through the handing down of ancestral recipes in the home.
Tessa manages all private events, fundraising events, and the annual gala at MOFAD ensuring that all aspects of production and activation are executed seamlessly. Managing events for MOFAD allows Tessa to utilize her passion for conceptualizing experiential events around sharing food and drink.
Loren Silber, Museum Educator
Loren has been leading and learning with NYC museum audiences of all ages for over two decades. The subjects vary but the thrill of discovering new things about the world we live in never fades. Since joining the Museum Food and Drink in January of 2017, she’s been creating lesson plans and teaching lots and lots of really smart kids whose curiosity and enthusiasm keeps her feeling young at heart. She looks forward to another year of food, fun, and friends at MOFAD.