Check back for updates on November's line up of Storytellers.

june 2018 Storytellers

 Photo by Gabrielle Lurie

Photo by Gabrielle Lurie

Xumin Liu

Born into a tea farming family, Xumin Liu is one of China's most accomplished living masters of the ancient Sichuanese art of gongfu cha, as well as a practitioner of wushu martial arts, which he studied at a Taoist monastery in the Qingcheng Mountains.  Master Liu also performs face swapping, a vital part of Sichuan Chinese opera. Throughout 2018, Master Liu is conducting demonstrations in the US, splitting his time between two San Francisco restaurants, Z&Y in Chinatown and Chili House in the Richmond District.

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 Photo by Sana Javeri Kadri

Photo by Sana Javeri Kadri

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Rosa Martinez & Emiliana Puyana

Rosa Martinez was born in a small town in the state of Oaxaca.  As a child, she loved cooking with her mother. In 1989, she left Mexico for San Francisco with a dream of one day cooking for many people and sharing with them her culture.  Now, many years later, after a long journey that included all sorts of jobs serving others, she is an entrepreneur in the La Cocina incubator and can see a path to fulfilling her dream.


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.


Rachel Levin with Bob Carrau on piano

Rachel is the first San Francisco restaurant critic for Eater and has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Lucky Peach, among many other publications.  She’s the author of Look Big and other tips for surviving animal encounters of all kinds, and she has appeared on NPR’s Marketplace, KQED’s Forum and on stage at Pop-Up Magazine.

Bob Carrau is a San Francisco-based writer/scriptwriter/editor who has worked with George Lucas and Alice Waters among others.  A couple of his more recent collaborations were with Waters on her books Fanny in France and Coming to My Senses. Every Wednesday and Thursday night Bob plays the piano at Zuni Cafe as he has for the last decade


Shanna Farrell

Shanna Farrell is an interviewer at UC Berkeley's Oral History Center, where she specializes in contemporary cocktail culture. She is the author of Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community and Craft and her writing has appeared in PUNCH, Imbibe, Life & Thyme, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Edible San Francisco. You can occasionally hear her voice on various podcasts, like Gravy.


Jessica Battilana

Jessica Battilana writes about food and the people who make it. Her first solo cookbook, Repertoire: All the Recipes You Need, was just released this spring.  She has co-authored five cookbooks: Vietnamese Home Food, with Charles Phan, chef/owner of the Slanted Door; Tartine Book 3, with Tartine owner Chad Robertson; Sausage Making: A Definitive Guide with Recipes, a collaboration with butcher Ryan Farr; Home Cooked, with Anya Fernald; and Home Grown: Cooking From My New England Roots with Matt Jennings, chef of Boston’s Townsman. Jessica also writes a bi-monthly column for the San Francisco Chronicle Food Section.


Rachel Myers

Director and designer for film, TV, stage and live events, Rachel Myers film credits include “Short Term 12,” winner of SXSW and Independent Spirit Awards, “The Drowning,” and “East Los High,” among others.  Her TV work has been seen on HULU, Lionsgate, Facebook, MTV, and LIFETIME. Wendy’s Shabbat, which screened at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, is Rachel’s directing debut.


Bini Pradhan

Bini Pradhan, born in Kathmandu, Nepal, has many years of experience in the Nepali Food Industry and a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management Catering.  She started at La Cocina in 2013, and now is the owner and chef of Bini’s Kitchen. You can find her food at 1 Post Street, Whole Foods Markets, Off the Grid Fort Mason, Drives Market, The Market in Twitter Building, CUESA Ferry Building, CUESA Jack London Sq., Off the Grid Presidio, and catering and events.


Jonathan Kauffman

Jonathan Kauffman is a features writer for the SF Chronicle’s food section, reporting on food culture, such as the history of Burmese restaurants in SF or the effects of gentrification on practically everything we eat. He was a restaurant critic for 11 years in the Bay Area and Seattle as well as the SF editor for Tasting Table.  His writing has won both a James Beard and an IACP award. This year, his book Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries changed the way we eat was released to great acclaim.


Stefanie Demong

Stefanie Demong is a writer, creative strategist, and amateur illustrator based in San Francisco. Before going freelance, Stef spent over eight years at Tipping Point Community, a non-profit that fights poverty in the Bay Area.


Randy Fertel

Randy Fertel is a writer, author, teacher, and philanthropist and  is the author of A Taste of Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation and The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak: A New Orleans Family Memoir.  He has taught English literature at Harvard, Tulane, LeMoyne College, the University of New Orleans and the New School of Social Research. He has contributed to many publications, including The New York Times, NPR, Smithsonian, Kenyon Review, Gastronomica, Esquire, among others. The son of the founder of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Randy is president of both the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation.


Chris Colin

Chris Colin has written about endangered pasta, Obama’s Irish roots, chimp filmmakers, ethnic cleansing, blind visual artists, solitary confinement, the Yelpification of the universe and much more for the, The New York Times Magazine, Saveur, and Pop-Up Magazine, among other publications. He’s a contributing writer for California Sunday Magazine and Afar, and the author of What to Talk About,  What Really Happened to the Class of ’93, and Blindsight, named one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2011. In 2015, he co-wrote This Is Camino, which was nominated for a James Beard award.