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Association of Food Journalists Annual Conference

2014 Agenda

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5:30-7:30 p.m. Welcome to Memphis! Pre-Conference Mixer


Cocktail party for early AFJ arrivals and selected local media sponsored by the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Meet by the fountain in the hotel lobby at 5:15 p.m. to join the brass-band led second line parade from The Peabody Memphis to the unique, funky and historic A. Schwab Trading Company, whose huge windows overlook Beale Street. Catering by celebrated Memphis restaurateur Karen Carrier, who has been instrumental in helping revive downtown Memphis. Complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres; cash bar.





Breakfast on your own 


8 a.m.  Press Room and Registration Open


8:30 -11 a.m.  One-on-One coaching sessions


15-minute coaching and critique sessions; eight each with Kim Severson (The New York Times) and Kat Kinsman (Eatocracy/CNN). The number of coaching sessions is limited; advance sign-up at time of registration is required. Assignments are made on a first-come, first-serve basis. Participants who wish to have one of the coaches to evaluate their work will be asked to submit a sample (or a link to a sample) at least a month prior to the conference.


9-11 a.m. Start Your Book Proposal Right Now: Optional cookbook proposal writing workshop


Get the inspiration and information you need to publish a book. In this interactive 2-hour class, Dianne Jacob, a book proposal coach specializing in cookbooks, explains why you need a book proposal and how the publishing process works. You’ll start several sections of your proposal in class, then take it home to complete. You’ll receive an extensive outline of a book proposal when you register, so you can dedicate class time to writing. Note that there is a separate fee for this workshop: $75 for AFJ members, $94 for non-members. Four Peggy Daum Judge Memorial Scholarships of $75 each are available to current AFJ members only on a first-come, first-serve basis. Click here to register for the workshop with Dianne Jacob. Click here for criteria and a Daum scholarship application. 


9-11 a.m. AFJ Board and Committees Meeting (by invitation only)


11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Food Truck Rodeo Welcome


Take a short walk to a nearby park for a unique al fresco dining experience. Organized by the Downtown Memphis Commission, this mini-festival in the park includes live music, performance and — of course — luncheon offerings by a number of local food trucks.


12:45-1 p.m. Conference Opens


Welcome by AFJ President Debbie Moose


Brief overview of sessions and events by 2014 Conference Chair Susan Puckett and Jennifer Biggs (Memphis Commercial Appeal)


1-3 p.m. The Changing Landscape of Food Journalism


Kimberly Voss - associate professor, Nicolson School of Communication, University of Central Florida and author of The Food Section and the recent history of the founding of AFJ, has spent 10 years researching food journalism in the U.S. Kim Severson - four-time James Beard award-winning food writer for The New York Times and author of four books - came up through the newspaper industry; Kat Kinsman - managing editor of Eatocracy, CNN's food blog, with more than 47,000 Twitter followers - has a passion for social media and the digital world. Sid Evans - editor-in-chief of Southern Living and group editor of Time Inc.'s Lifestyle Division (including Cooking Light, Coastal Living and Sunset) - has worked his magic on print and digital editions of some of the country's most successful magazines. Together, they offer a lively overview of the state of food writing and multimedia storytelling, what we can learn from one another's platforms, and the challenges and opportunities ahead. Charlotte Observer food editor and blogger Kathleen Purvis moderates.


3-3:15 p.m. BREAK


3:15-4:15 p.m. One Table, Many Voices: Understanding Memphis’ Food Culture


In Memphis, food has always been deeply intertwined in the history, the music, the culture and the deep sense of community that flavors all facets of life. Few know that better than longtime Commercial Appeal food writer and dining critic Jennifer Biggs. To help us orient ourselves to her hometown’s unique foodways, she introduces us to some of Memphis’s most knowledgeable and colorful authorities.


4:15-5 p.m. Tales From the Barbecue Trail


What can you learn about a place or a people through its Q (or ‘cue)? How does Memphis-style barbecue differ from what you’d find in Texas — or anywhere else? And what is it about barbecue that makes for compelling storytelling wherever you are? Southern Foodways Alliance documentarian Joe York — who has produced a number of barbecue-centered videos — and Daniel Vaughn, the country’s only barbecue editor (for Texas Monthly), who has eaten at more than 800 barbecue joints across the country — grill each other with the help of moderator John T. Edge, author, editor and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance.


5-5:15 p.m. Introduction to Videolicious


If you have an iPhone you can leave the conference with a fully edited video, complete with images and music. Videolicious enthusiast John Kessler, food writer and chief dining critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells you how to start collecting the material you will need to make your mini-movie with the Videolicious system used by newsrooms around the country. John will be around to offer tips an answer questions throughout the conference. On Friday, a Videolicious rep will join John to show you how to put it all the material you’ve collected together.


5:15 p.m. Press Room Closes for Day


7-10 p.m. A Smokin’ TASTE OF MEMPHIS at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music


Shuttles to deliver you directly to the Stax Museum — the original site of groundbreaking Stax Records and home of the Memphis sound — leave The Peabody Memphis at 6:45 and 7 p.m. Memphis top chefs and the pitmasters and local legends who inspire them offer small plates of the foods that made them famous. Mix in live and recorded music, a photo booth and some documentary videos and you won’t want to leave when the shuttles return to the hotel at 9:30 and 10 p.m.


Participating chefs to include:


Kelly English (Restaurant Iris and The Second Line)
Michael Hudman/Andy Ticer (Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog and Hominy)
Wally Joe (Acre Restaurant)
Miles McMath (St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital)
Patrick and Deni Reilly (Majestic Grille)
Philip Ashley Rix (Phillip Ashley Chocolates)
Felicia Willett (Felicia Suzanne Restaurant)




8 a.m. Press Room Opens


8:15 a.m. Exhibits Open


8:30-10 a.m. AFJ Annual Meeting (Open to all AFJ members)


Continental breakfast provided in meeting room to members only.


10-10:30 a.m. BREAK and Exhibits Open


10:30-11:45 a.m. Grab a Hammer, Build Your Platform: Entrepreneurial Skills for Everybody


Whether you are on staff at a media outlet or a freelancer, developing some entrepreneurial skills can help you maintain and/or expand your food-writing career. Entrepreneur and coach Dianne Jacob (Will Write for Food) explains how to build a personal brand and use it to branch out into new areas of food writing. Chuck Reece, a business writer turned marketing man who returned to his journalism roots with the wildly popular Bitter Southerner, tells how a quest for great cocktails led him to develop a new online magazine from scratch, brand and market it. Dr. Carrie Brown, who teaches and does research on newsroom change, social media and entrepreneurial journalism at the University of Memphis, shares tips and tools for generating revenue beyond the traditional newsroom.


11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Can Soul Food Be Vegan — And Delicious?


Chef and food justice activist Bryant Terry — author of four cookbooks (including Afro-Vegan and Vegan Soul Kitchen) and a former fellow of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Society Fellows Program — traces his interest in cooking back to his childhood in Memphis, where his grandparents encouraged him to grow as well as prepare good, healthy food. Terry talks about how soul food can lose its unhealthy image while it keeps all the flavor for which it’s known — and introduces the menu for the luncheon that follows.


12:15-12:30 p.m. Walk to Nearby Restaurant Felicia Suzanne


12:30-1:45 p.m. Vegan Soul Food Luncheon


Chef Bryant Terry circulates among the tables answering questions as we feast on a menu, prepared with chef-owner Felicia Willett, featuring several of his signature vegan dishes. Memphis photographer Justin Fox Burks, who will be teaching the hands-on food styling and photography program on Friday morning also joins the party to help people enrolled in his session get their photo collection started.


1:45-2 p.m. Walk Back to the Peabody Memphis


2-3:15 p.m.  Cutting-Edge Strategies for Fighting Hunger and Obesity — In a City Where You'd Least Expect to Find Them


 Miles McMath, chef of St. Jude’s Hospital — and the only hospital chef ever invited to cook at the Beard House — has established 60 raised-bed gardens on the hospital grounds and turned the institution’s cafeteria into one of the hottest dining tickets in town. McMath is joined by Baptist minister Michael Minor, who banned fried chicken from church socials; school lunch guru Tony Geraci, subject of the documentary Cafeteria Man; and Dr. Scott Morris, CEO of the Church Health Center, the largest faith-based healthcare organization of its kind in the country — as they discuss the ways the Memphis community has come together to relieve hunger while improving the health of Memphis’ neediest citizens. Melissa Peterson, editor of Edible Memphis magazine, moderates.


3:15-3:45 p.m. BREAK and Exhibits Open


3:45-5 p.m. Fried Chicken, Watermelon and Hot Water


Who is telling whose story? African American food writers and culinary historians Michael Twitty (“Afroculinaria”), Toni Tipton-Martin (“The Jemima Code”) and Donna Battle Pierce (“Black America Cooks”) discuss the challenges of writing about food, culture and race — pre- and post- Paula Deen scandal — and how they are trying to set the record straight. Lawyer, lecturer and soul-food scholar Adrian E. Miller, whose book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time, recently won a James Beard award, moderates.


5 p.m. Press Room Closes for Conference


6:30-9 p.m. 2014 AFJ Awards Competition Banquet at The Peabody Hotel


6:30-7 p.m. Reception with drinks and passed appetizers


7-9 p.m. And the Winner Is — Dinner and presentation of AFJ’s annual writing competition awards; presentation of the Association of Food Journalists/Carol DeMasters Service to Food Journalism Award established in 2014 to honor AFJ’s co-founder and longtime executive director. Opening remarks: Mississippi Delta native, author, editor and journalist Julia Reed and Regina Charboneau, culinary director for the American Queen paddleboat company and author of Mississippi Current Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Down America’s Greatest River, talk about the river’s influence on food and food writing as we feast on a banquet of tastes along the Lower, Middle, and Upper Mississippi prepared by Peabody Memphis chefs.


Barbecue Ribs



Breakfast on your own


8:30-9:45 a.m. How Oral History Can Enrich Your Storytelling through Print, Film or Audio


This panel shares traditional and innovative techniques for drawing compelling stories out of everyday people – often through the power of food. Amy Evans, the Southern Foodways Alliance’s lead oral historian, has traveled the region interviewing tamale makers, sweet potato farmers and more and has been named by Food & Wine magazine one of “the most fearsome talents in the culinary world.” Kate Medley, a former newspaper reporter and SFA oral historian, produces A Spoken Dish, a video project seeking "to document the palate of a changing South.” Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Alysia Burton-Steele, an associate professor at The University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism & New Media, produced Jewels of the Delta, a photo documentary with audio interviews of 50 church mothers, including the wife of slain Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers. SFA director John T. Edge moderates.


9:45-11:45 a.m. Concurrent Hands-On Skill-Building Sessions (Pre-registration in the session of your choice is required)


Session 1: Ready To Roll: Food Journalism in the Field


John Kessler, who introduced the project on Wednesday, and a Videolicious staff trainer teach you how to edit the material you’ve collected throughout the conference to complete a ready-to-post movie on your iPhone.


Session 2: Take Your Best Shot: Food Journalism in the Kitchen


Memphis photographer Justin Fox Burks, who created the “Chubby Vegetarian” blog with his wife, the chef and food journalist Amy Lawrence, and levied it into a successful book contract, shows how to style, shoot and edit beautiful, publishable food photos in your home kitchen — even if all you have to work with is a smartphone. (Justin knows what he’s talking about: he recently sold a food photo to Men’s Health that he took with his iPhone.)


11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Travel to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel


Walk or take city trolley to the recently renovated museum.


12:15-12:45 p.m. Tour “Standing Up By Sitting Down”


Visit themuseum’s permanent interactive exhibit commemorating the student sit-ins of the 1960s. The original lunch counter is here, as is a film projected behind figures of the protesters and their hecklers.


1-3 p.m. Fried Chicken Shoebox Lunch at the National Civil Rights Museum


Keynote: Memphis Dining Before and After 1964


Lunch features Gus’s famous fried chicken served in a shoebox, a meal traditionally packed by black families traveling by train before integration opened the dining car to all. Soul food scholar Adrian Miller leads a discussion with retired Memphis civil rights leaders on the 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Act, discussing how race relations in restaurants has evolved since.


Sponsored by the Downtown Memphis Commission.


3 p.m.  Conference Closes


3:30 p.m. Unofficial Post-Conference Mixer at The Peabody Memphis Bar




Our host hotel is The Peabody Memphis, which has its own great story. It is often said that the Mississippi Delta begins in its luxurious historic lobby, where the twice-daily March of the Ducks has been a beloved Memphis tradition since the 1930s.


Beale St.
Nightlife on Beale Street
Phillip Parker
© Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau 2011




Registration for this event is available here.

Registration prices for current AFJ members are $100 without transportation and $150 with transportation provided (non-member rates are $125 without transportation and $175 with). This event is limited to 40 participants.



3:30 p.m. Delta Detour leaves from The Peabody Memphis.

6 p.m. Arrive in Clarksdale. Check-in at designated rooms.

7:30 p.m. Delta dinner and wine-tasting at Oxbow restaurant.

Welcome to Clarksdale by Mayor Bill Luckett.

9 p.m.-on Ground Zero Blues Club and Red’s Lounge Juke Joint.



9-10:30 a.m. Biscuit and Bloody Mary brunch at Cutrer Mansion, in the neighborhood where Tennessee Williams grew up and a famous subject in his plays.

10:30 a.m.-noon Walking tour of Clarksdale, with stops at Blues Museum for special film, Quapaw Canoes on Sunflower River, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art and more.

Noon-1:30 p.m. Tamale making and rolling demo with light tamale lunch.

1:30 p.m. Return to The Peabody Memphis (or continue Delta exploration on own or with recommended guides).



Jennifer Biggs, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Dr. Carrie Brown, University of Memphis

Justin Fox Burks, The Chubby Vegetarian

Alysia Burton-Steele, University of Mississippi

Regina Charboneau, chef, author, Mississippi Current Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Down America’s Greatest River

John T. Edge, Southern Foodways Alliance

Amy Evans, Southern Foodways Alliance

Sid Evans, Editor, Southern Living, editor for Time Inc. Lifestyle brands

Tony Geraci, Memphis Public Schools

Dianne Jacob, Will Write for Food

John Kessler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kat Kinsman, Eatocracy/CNN

Miles McMath, chef, St. Jude’s Hospital, Memphis

Kate Medley, A Spoken Dish

Adrian Miller, author, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of An American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time

Dr. Michael O. Minor, community organizer, Baptist minister

Melissa Peterson, edible Memphis

Donna Battle Pierce, Black America Cooks

Kathleen Purvis, Charlotte Observer

Chuck Reece, The Bitter Southerner, Kredible

Julia Reed, journalist, author, But Mamma Always Put Vodka in the Sangria: Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Making Merry

Kim Severson, The New York Time

Bryant Terry, chef, author of Vegan Soul and Afro Vegan

Toni Tipton-Martin, The Jemima Code

Michael W. Twitty, Afroculinaria

Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly

Kimberly Voss, author, The Food Section

Joe York, Southern Foodways Alliance


Association of Food Journalists


The Memphis Commercial Appeal


TinyLetter (a division of MailChimp)


Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau


Downtown Memphis Commission