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Home » From the Commissioner

2009 Culinary History Symposium: Speaker Bios

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (October 19, 2009)

Enfield Shaker Museum
A Study of the Past Through Food: Speaker Bios

Anne Mendelson is a freelance writer and editor living in New Jersey and specializing in culinary history and other food-related subjects. She is the author of Stand Facing the Stove (a biography of the authors of The Joy of Cooking, (Henry Holt, 1996) and Milk, The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008) which is a cultural-historical survey of milk and fresh dairy products. Her article on pre-European foodways among the Lenape Indians of the Lower Hudson Valley won the 2007 Sophie Coe Prize in Food History at the Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery.

Betty Sue Robie, Robie Farm, Piermont, NH is the matriarch of the sixth generation of  Robies to have  pastured their animals on the fertile banks of the Connecticut River. Even as family farms have faced nearly impossible challenges in recent years, the Robie Farm has continued in the tradition of producing wholesome food from their individually cared for animals. The farm now offers fresh raw milk, artisan cheese, meats, and fresh produce all produced on site and sold direct to the consumer. Tours of the farm are offered to school groups throughout the year.

Doug Erb, Springvale Farms/Landaff Creamery, Landaff, NH grew up on his family farm. NH. After graduating from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire, he worked for Agway for three years. He returned to the farm in 1980 with his wife Debby, and began modernizing the farm in the early 1990’s.  In 1996, they were chosen New Hampshire Green Pastures’ Committee Farm of the Year, one of the most prestigious in New England, and have been Quality award winners for Agri-Mark for 15 years.  Debby and Doug are active in many organizations and are committed to farming as a way of life.  In 2006 they chose to start researching farmstead cheese with the goal of starting production in 2008.  Doug traveled to England to learn a traditional Welsh recipe for caerphilly in June 2008 and began production in January of 2009.

Jesse Natha Kimler is working toward her Master’s Degree in Gastronomy from Boston University and is currently a researcher at the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, VT.  She is also a freelance food writer for the Boston Globe and Vermont’s Local Banquet magazine.

John Porter, Boscawen, NH was raised on a dairy farm in Lebanon, New Hampshire.  He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. Degree in Animal Science, and has a Master’s Degree from Cornell University in Animal Nutrition and Farm Management, and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Bob Jones University. He served as a Dairy Specialist for the UNH Cooperative Extension from 1974 until his retirement in 2006. In 2001, he co-authored the book “Preserving Old Barns” and in December of 2007, was editor and contributing author of “The History and Economics of the New Hampshire Dairy Industry.”

Kathleen Curtin, Chester, NH is an historian specializing in colonial foodways, the co-author with Sandra Oliver of Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes & History from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie, and the former director of historic food programs at Plimoth Plantation. Kathleen is currently working on her next cookbook about colonial food.

Paul Hoffman is the Assistant Director of Merchandising at the Co-op Food Stores in Lebanon and Hanover, and an elected member of its 74th Board of Directors. In addition to establishing the Co-op Kitchens central Commissary and many of the popular items created there, Paul oversees product and vendor selection, pricing, shelf allocation, product promotion and evaluation of market trends.  A former certified chef and avid foodie, Paul is dedicated to the promotion and success of local and regional products and the people who create them. The Co-op Food Stores have been recognized as the 2008 Regional Business Leader of the Year by Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the Top 20 Places to Work in New Hampshire in 2008 by Business NH Magazine, and a Fit-Friendly Company by the American Heart Association.

Sandra Oliver of Islesboro, ME has been active in food and food history for 38 years starting in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. She is the author of Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995.  Besides food history work,

Sandy is a freelance food writer with columns in Maine publications. She is also the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtain. Recipes from Saltwater Foodways have been compiled in a paper back book entitled The Saltwater Foodways Companion Cookbook. She maintains a food history website,, and provides weekly updates on what is happening in food history. She speaks regularly to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history.

Jason Dacier, Growers’ Dinner, is head chef of the Co-op Food Stores, Hanover & Lebanon, NH and oversees the Co-op’s catering service.  He holds a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute in Providence, RI. Throughout his 20 years in the culinary arts, Jason’s career has included experiences at the Sonsie on Newbury Street in Boston, The Marriott, Newton, MA and Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA, America’s oldest working inn.

All the books written by our speakers are available in the Enfield Museum Shop. The speakers will be available for signing during the afternoon reception.

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