September 2016: brains






Story no. 1: The Bitter taste of health

Barb Stuckey is President and Chief Innovation Officer at Mattson, where she oversees creation of new food and beverage products.  She's the author of Taste, a book about the science of taste, which is used as the textbook for Fundamentals of Taste, the seminar she teaches at the San Francisco Cooking School.  She's spoken at the TED Conference, NYC's 92nd St. Y, and the Commonwealth Club. Her work has been featured in The New Yorker and Salon. She has written for The Wall Street Journal and is also a regular contributor to She sits on the board of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine & Food Science.


Jennifer 8. Lee

STORY NO. 2: The quest for the dumpling emoji

Jennifer 8. Lee is the co-founder and CEO of the literary studio Plympton. She produced the documentary, “The Search for General Tso,” which premiered at the 2014 TriBeCa Film Festival and lobbied to get a dumpling added to the official emojis. For many years, she was a reporter at The New York Times, and she is the author of the bestseller The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.


Joe Alterio + Tim Lillis
with musical accompanist Jordain Wallace

STORY NO. 3: Grimod; The Man with the Unending Appetite

Joe Alterio is a partner of Primer Stories.  He also is the founder of  He is a Webby and Addy-winning digital-native creative director, storyteller and designer. Joe is also a fine artist, illustrator, and comic and cartoon artist. He has appeared at The Seattle Interactive Conference, South by Southwest in Austin, and Comic-Con in San Diego.



Tim Lillis is an art director, illustrator, and designer. He is a partner at Primer Stories where he works on telling complex stories clearly and beautifully. He is a co-founder of Music Video Race, and for a while built monster costumes and miniature cities at Kaiju Big Battel. He often puts cardamom in his coffee. 


Maria del carmen flores

STORY NO. 4: Brains of mdc

The oldest of 12 children, Maria del Carmen Flores was born in El Salvador and has been selling food on the street since she was 6 years old.  She has an unmatched entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to turn adversity into opportunity. When she had enough money to buy plantains and some oil, she made plantain chips and sold them on the street. With this, Estrellita’s Snacks was born. In 2005, she began working with La Cocina to formalize her business. Today, in addition to her signature plantain chips, Maria del Carmen also makes pupusas, tamales, empanadas, and more. 




Emiliana Puyana grew up in Venezuela and landed her first restaurant job at the age of fifteen in Caracas.  Since graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 2002, she has held most positions in the kitchen from prep cook to chef de cuisine, working at such places as La Folie, Salt House and Marla Bakery. In 2011, she joined La Cocina’s incubator program and started her own pickling business, Jarred SF Brine. After three years, she made the tough decision to pack it in. Emiliana is now back at La Cocina but on the other side of the table as the Program Coordinator.


Kat kinsman

Story no. 5: Chefs with issues

Kat Kinsman is the Senior Food and Drinks Editor at Time Inc’s site Extra Crispy.  She launched Chefs with Issues, which is dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness in the culinary world.  She has been the Editor at Large and Editor in Chief of Tasting Table, the Managing Editor of CNN’s Eatocracy. Kat was nominated for a James Beard Broadcast Award in 2013 and won the EPPY Best Food Website award in 2011.  Her new book Hi Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves is due out in November.


Jessica fechtor

Story no. 6: Stir; My broken brain and the meals that brought me home

Jessica Fechtor is the author of the bestselling memoir, Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home, praised by as "a page-turning pleasure," and by The Wall Street Journal as "a recipe for living a life of meaning. Fechtor is the creator of the popular food blog, Sweet Amandine. Her writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughters, and doesn't believe in secret recipes.


Alexis Madrigal   

STORY NO. 7: A Taste for vowels

Alexis Madrigal is Editor-in-Chief of Fusion. He was a senior editor at The Atlantic and a staff writer at Wired. He's the author of Powering the Dream and a visiting scholar at U.C. Berkeley.



Sarah Rich

Sarah Rich is a writer and editor focused on the intersection of food and design. She's a former editor for Dwell and Smithsonian, and co-founder of Longshot Magazine and the Foodprint Project. Currently she's working on a book of design history and recipes, coming from Bloomsbury in 2017.


Nite Yun

Story N0. 8: Beloved Battambang: Soundtrack of a Stockton Childhood

Nite Yun was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and came to the U.S. with her family in 1984. Her food business, Nyum Bai, is inspired by the music and styles of Cambodia's Golden Era. Nite was motivated to create Nyum Bai by the lack of high quality Cambodian food in the Bay Area and the desire to share the eye-popping aromas, flavors, and colors of the Cambodian dishes she grew up eating. Nyum Bai's mission is to introduce a nostalgic take on Cambodian food.


neal gottlieb 

Story No. 9: brain freeze

Neal Gottlieb is a Founding Twin of Three Twins Ice Cream, which he started in 2005 with his life's savings of $70,000 after returning from volunteering with the Peace Corp in Morocco.  He was a member of the "Brains" Tribe on CBS's Survivor: Kaoh Rong. 


Robin Sloan

Story no. 10: The italics

Robin Sloan is the author of the bestselling novel Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.  He is a media inventor, who experiments with new writing formats and tools. And when he is not writing, he likes to dork around with technology.  Robin's newest novel is scheduled for release in the fall of 2017.


Jessica Koslow

story no. 11: Inside The mind of a chef

Jessica Koslow is the chef/owner of the wildly popular LA restaurant Sqirl.  Along her circuitous route to food success, she was a child competitive figure skater in So Cal, a graduate student in media theory, a pastry chef at the esteemed Bacchanalia in Atlanta, a television producer in NYC— all before starting her jams, pickles, and preserves shop Sqirl in 2011.  In 2012, she expanded Sqirl to a full breakfast and lunch restaurant. Jessica and Sqirl have received countless accolades, including Eater’s 2014 Best Chef LA, StarChefs Rising Star Community Chef Award, and Jonathan Gold’s top 101 Best Restaurants LA. A new restaurant project and with a 2.5 Acre farm will open in 2017 and Jessica's first cookbook will be released on October 4, 2016.



Story No. 11: The Mind of a Bartender

Filmmaker: Shanna Farrell
Editing: Theo Shear and Cristina Kim
Featuring: Kim Rosselle (Trick Dog), John Fragola (Beretta, Bear vs. Bull), Yanni Kehagiaras (Nopa, Liholiho Yacht Club), and Jennifer Colliau (The Interval, Small Hand Foods)




Story no. 12: Absinthe

Filmmaker: Shanna Farrell
Editing: Danielle Barcena
Featuring: Lance Winters (St. George Spirits)