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Association of Food Journalists Annual Conference

2014 Agenda

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We have reached full capacity for this meeting.


Playing the Blues on Beale Street



4:30-5:15 p.m. Duck Walk Viewing, West Mezzanine, Peabody

Meet up with your fellow AFJers to view the famous Peabody duck march. Sip drinks and snack on hors d'oeuvres while enjoying this unique Memphis tradition.

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 at the Peabody motor entrance 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 Court Square, 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:

Nick Vergos, Rendezvous
Desiree Robinson, Cozy Corner
Karen Carrier, Beauty Shop, Mollie Fontaine Lounge and Bar DKDC
Erling Jensen, Erling Jensen: The Restaurant
Chris Gang, former food writer for The Commercial Appeal, who continues to write a gardening column and occasional features

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. There's to be barbecue, of course, including barbecue pizza and spaghetti, as well as tamales, charcuterie and an array of sweets including bread pudding. There'll also be drinks from Memphis Made Brewery, Ghost River Brewery, Prichard's Distillery and Big River Bitters. 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) with Erling Jensen (Erling Jensen Restaurant)
Michael Hudman (Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog and Hominy) with Frank and Eric Vernon (Bar-B-Q Shop)
Wally Joe (Acre Restaurant) Jonathan Magallanes (Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana)
Miles McMath and Ernest Dickson (St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital) 
Patrick and Deni Reilly (Majestic Grille) with Desiree Robinson (Cozy Corner BBQ)
Karen Carrier (The Beauty Shop, The Mollie Fontaine Lounge, Bar DKDC, Another Roadside Attraction)
Philip Ashley Rix (Phillip Ashley Chocolates)
Felicia Willett (Felicia Suzanne’s) with Jose Gutierrez (River Oaks Restaurant)
Tony and Jim Neely (Interstate Barbecue)
Ryan Trimm (Sweet Grass and Southward Fare & Libations) with Nick Vergos (Rendezvous)
Andy Ticer (Hog & Hominy and Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen) with Jerry Coletta (Coletta’s Restaurant)
Kat Gordon (Muddy’s Bake Shop) with BJ Tamayo (Alcenia's)
Jimmy Lewis, Relevant Roasters




8 a.m. Press Room Opens


8:15 a.m. Exhibits Open


AFJ's exhibitors:
American Palate
Adam Ferrell, Publishing Director 

Stephen Mosely, Co-founder & COO

The Harvard Common Press
Adam Salomone, Associate Publisher

Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau
Jonathan Lyons, Director of Public Relations

University of Georgia Press
Patrick Allen, Acquisitions Editor

University of North Carolina Press
Elaine Maisner, Senior Executive Editor

Visit Mississippi
Sarah McCullough, Cultural Heritage Program Manager

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.


11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Time with Exhibitors

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


12:30-1:45 p.m. Healthy Vegetarian Southern Lunch 

Enjoy a healthy vegetarian lunch prepared by Felicia Willett, Justin Fox Burks and Miles McMath. Tomato pie, greens, “shrimp” and grits (made with okra instead of shrimp) and a smoked mushroom tamale are just a few of the dishes on the menu — quintessentially Southern, never cliched.

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 Petersen, 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 Andreas Kisler and Konrad Spitzbart.


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, 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 the museum’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. Keynote (and lunch) at the National Civil Rights Museum: Memphis Dining Before and After 1964


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. We'll also have a fried chicken lunch. Panelists are: 

Father Nicolas Vieron, a retired Greek Orthodox priest who co-chaired a race relations committee for the Memphis Ministers Association during the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968 — the event that brought Martin Luther King, Jr., to the city where he was assassinated. 

Fred Davis, who chaired the committee that held the hearing for the Memphis Sanitation Strike and was on stage at the Mason Temple when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made his historic “I've Been to the Mountaintop” speech. 

Daisy Miller, who has been cooking some of the city’s most popular soul food for more than 50 years at the Orange Mound Grill. (Orange Mound was the first neighborhood in the U.S. to be built by African-Americans.)


Sponsored by the Downtown Memphis Commission.


3 p.m.  Conference Closes


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


Beale St.



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.

Unfortunately, AFJ's room blocks at the Peabody and at the alternative hotel, the Holiday Inn Select Memphis-Downtown, are completely filled. If you still need to book a hotel room, AFJ recommends using a travel site like






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
Justin Fox Burks, The Chubby Vegetarian

Alysia Burton-Steele, University of Mississippi

Karen Carrier, Beauty Shop, Mollie Fontaine Lounge and Bar DKDC
Regina Charboneau, chef, author, Mississippi Current Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Down America’s Greatest River

John T. Edge, Southern Foodways Alliance
Fred Davis,  retired Memphis City Councilman and business owner
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

Erling Jensen, Erling Jensen: The Restaurant
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
Daisy Miller, Orange Mound Grill

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

Melissa Petersen, 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

Desiree Robinson, Cozy Corner
Kim Severson, The New York Times

Toni Tipton-Martin, The Jemima Code

Michael W. Twitty, Afroculinaria

Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly
Nick Vergos, Rendezvous
Father Nicolas Vieron, retired Greek Orthodox priest

Kimberly Voss, author, The Food Section

Joe York, Southern Foodways Alliance


Downtown Memphis Commission

Leslie Gower, Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Downtown Memphis Commission is charged with making Downtown a better place to live, work, play and invest. Learn more about what’s happening downtown by visiting


The Commercial Appeal

Jennifer Biggs, Food Writer

Current news for Memphis and its surrounding communities brought to you by The Commercial Appeal. Features local news including food and dining, sports, business, entertainment, lifestyle and more.


Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau

Jonathan Lyons, Director of Public Relations

The Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau extends a warm welcome to attendees of the Association of Food Journalists Conference. The Memphis CVB, the official marketing and tourism organization for Memphis and Shelby County, is a private, not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to building the local economy and the community's positive image through tourism and convention development, major events and destination marketing.


TinyLetter (a division of MailChimp)

Lain Shakespeare, Nonprofit Brand Manager

TinyLetter is an email newsletter service for people with something to say, brought to you by the people behind MailChimp. People use TinyLetter to share their work with fans and friends. It's simple and free.


Visit Mississippi

Sarah McCullough, Cultural Heritage Program Manager

Take a seat at the Mississippi table and sample the stories—and dishes-- behind the South’s most delicious state. From cornhusk-wrapped Delta hot tamales to bacon-wrapped Gulf shrimp, Mississippi’s foodways are as diverse as the people behind the recipes. And so are the restaurants where they are served. Travel the state and you soon recognize that our restaurants are beacons of ethnic diversity, clubhouses where communities gather, and shrines to tenured employees and multigenerational family ownership. Explore Mississippi’s creative culture through cuisine on the Mississippi Culinary Trail.

Association of Food Journalists


The Memphis Commercial Appeal


TinyLetter (a division of MailChimp)


Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau


Downtown Memphis Commission

Visit Mississippi

Visit Mississippi