Stories / Impact

Meet the 15 Change Agents Joining the May JBF Chef Bootcamp in Albuquerque

Yasmin Hariri

April 12, 2023


Group of chefs walking on a farm
Photo: Clay Williams

From May 21 to 23, 15 chefs from across the country will gather at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 24th James Beard Foundation Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change. Since 2012, this program has brought together diverse cohorts of culinary leaders to engage in advocacy training and deepen their understanding of how to be effective change agents on issues impacting our food system. This year’s participants will focus their efforts on the expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and support for BIPOC farmers, both issues that will be addressed in the upcoming Farm Bill.

Get to know our next cohort of chef-advocates below.

Bleu Adams
Black Sheep Café, Provo, UT

Bleu Adams (Mandan/Hidatsa/Dine’) is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Black Sheep Café, Blue Poblano, and House of Frybread in Utah. In addition to a number of restaurants, she founded IndigeHub with a mission to create opportunity “hubs” that develop capacity and foster Indigenous-led solutions that will lead to economically secure, self-reliant Indigenous communities. Bleu is motivated by her own mission to strengthen not only her community, but also to connect Native American Reservations across the country so that Indigenous Nations can work as a whole to create a foundation for current and future generations. Bleu is also a graduate of the JBF Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program and a member of the Beard Foundation/State Department collaborative American Culinary Corps.

Michael Diaz de Leon
BRUTØ, Denver, CO

Michael Diaz de Leon is a first-generation Mexican-American born in El Paso, Texas, who grew up surrounded by the food of his culture—instilling in him a motivation to bring culture, love, and family into the kitchen. After moving to Denver, Colorado, Michael began to explore sustainable agriculture practices, a zero-waste ethos, and a deeper connection to grains, and continued to adapt his process to combine his Mexican heritage with new-found techniques. Michael is now head chef of Denver’s BRUTØ, for which he was recognized as a 2023 James Beard Best Chef: Mountain semifinalist.

Shayla Felton Dorsey
Shayla’s Savour, Philadelphia, PA

Shayla Felton Dorsey was raised in a family of restaurateurs, including the late Queen of Soul Food Sylvia Woods and chef Melba Wilson. Following in their footsteps, Shayla established Shayla’s Savour, a Philadelphia catering company that offers cooking classes and private chef services, and was certified as a Community Chef Educator by the food justice organization Just Food. To Shayla, being a culinary leader is an opportunity to educate, empower, and provide culturally-relevant dishes in disinvested communities. Outside of the kitchen, she advocates for her community as a member of the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council and the John Hopkins Community of Learning Practice FPC.

Geoffrey Kie
Geoff Kie Productions, Casa Blanca, NM

Geoffrey Kie is Big Corn Clan and Little Turquoise Clan from the Pueblo of Laguna. He earned a Master’s of Communication with an emphasis on Documentary Studies from Northern Arizona University and published a thesis on Indigenous food sovereignty exploring topics such as seed rematriation and trade routes. Since returning to the Pueblo of Laguna, he began his own production company, Geoff Kie Productions, and is utilizing his multidisciplinary knowledge to create Kie’s Pies, a pizza concept in the desert focused on the quality of ingredients. He is also an advisee alum of the JBF Legacy Network program.

Adrian Lipscombe
40 Acres Project, Austin, TX

Adrian Lipscombe’s career started with city planning in Texas—an experience she brought to the culinary world when she opened Uptowne Café in La Crosse, Wisconsin as a gathering place that united her Southern upbringing, Midwest ingredients, and African-American culinary history. Adrian also founded the 40 Acres Project, which seeks to preserve the legacy of Black agriculture and foodways through the purchase of Black-owned land. Adrian is a founding member of the Muloma Heritage Center, an educational, culinary, and pastoral destination exploring the African-Atlantic influences in American culture, and a PhD candidate in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Texas at Austin. Adrian is also a graduate of the JBF Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program, a member of the Beard Foundation/State Department collaborative American Culinary Corps, and a JBF Legacy Network advisor.

Paula Endara Lowe
The Manchester Hotel, Lexington, KY

Originally from Quito, Ecuador, chef and mixologist Paula Endara Lowe has had a variety of experiences over the last 12 years—from specializing in avant-garde cuisine at the Basque Culinary Center, to working at a nomad restaurant concept in Quito in collaboration with Amazonian farmers, to opening Roots Restaurant with her husband in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Through all of her endeavors, Paula centers identity, culture, and sustainability and advocates for community sourcing and improving food systems. She is currently the co-executive chef at two restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky and is developing a nonprofit project called Pay it Forward focused on donating food to communities who lack food accessibility.

Tim McDiarmid
Tim the Girl Catering, San Antonio, TX

Raised picking vegetables in her mother’s garden in Canada, James Beard Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership alumna Tim McDiarmid is a San Antonio–based serial entrepreneur operating a catering company, outdoor bar and restaurant, and an event venue and garden space. Outside of her businesses, Tim volunteers, provides tours of Italy every summer, and shares her knowledge through The Bravery Strategy—a coaching and consulting business for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Ricky Moore
Saltbox Seafood Joint, Durham, NC

Ricky Moore is a proud entrepreneur and preserver of North Carolina’s foodways who started his culinary journey as a cook in the U.S. army before graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. Following experiences in prestigious kitchens from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, Ricky Moore competed on Iron Chef America, opened Saltbox Seafood Joint® in Durham, North Carolina, and published a cookbook with recipes celebrating his coastal heritage. In 2020, Discovery awarded his restaurant for its #EatItForward campaign for Black-owned restaurateurs. Ricky won the James Beard Best Chef: Southeast award in 2022.

Jordan Rubin
Tuna & Company, Portland, ME

Jordan Rubin's life-long passion for Japanese cuisine propelled him through over two decades in New England’s top sushi bars and eventually to his own hospitality group in Portland, Tuna & Company. In 2017, what started as a sushi food cart burgeoned into Mr. Tuna, the city’s first hand-roll bar, and three food trucks. With his entrepreneurial spirit and coupling of traditional and playful techniques, Jordan started Crispy Gai, Bar Futo, and soon-to-be sustainable seafood bar, Ladyfish. Through his ventures, he has forged relationships with a network of Portland growers and fishers, sourcing wild-caught whole fish as part of his holistic approach to sustainability.

Amy Salcedo
University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK

Amy Salcedo’s love of food, beverage, and community stems from an upbringing of making meals with her family and working as a busser in her Oklahoma hometown. After culinary school, Amy helped open 21c Art Hotel in Oklahoma City. She also opened The Champuli Café at the Choctaw Cultural Center with a dedication to using local ingredients to produce ancestral recipes passed down her tribe through generations. Today, Amy is the executive sous chef at the University of Oklahoma and continues to find passion in feeding and educating her community.

Eric See
Ursula, Brooklyn, NY

Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Eric See worked in restaurants through his studies until moving to New York City twelve years ago to pursue his passion. He made a splash in events—designing cakes, bite-sized sweets, and immersive dessert experiences for the likes of Dior, Beyoncé, and Fenty Beauty. Eric is now the chef and owner of Ursula, a New Mexican–inspired cafe and bakery in Brooklyn, and is a two-time James Beard Award semifinalist (Best Chef: New York this year and Best New Restaurant in 2022). Since Ursula’s opening, Eric’s food, activism, and work in the queer food community have been recognized through awards like Bon Appetit’s 2021 Heads of the Table.

Ashleigh Shanti
Good Hot Fish, Asheville, NC

Ashleigh Shanti is an Asheville, North Carolina–based chef with a culinary voice rooted in Black foodways, specifically Southern microregions. Following her culinary studies at Baltimore International College, she honed her skills across a variety of cuisines and as a culinary assistant for JBF Award–winning chef Vivian Howard on A Chef’s Life. In addition to being a 2020 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalist while chef de cuisine at Benne on Eagle, she was also named one of the New York Times’s 16 Black Chefs Changing Food in America and competed Top Chef: Houston in 2022. She is in the process of opening her first restaurant: a quick-service fish fry concept called Good Hot Fish. Ashleigh is a member of the Beard Foundation/State Department collaborative American Culinary Corps.

Austin Sumrall
White Pillars, Biloxi, MS

Growing up on a ranch in Missouri, Austin Sumrall’s passion for cooking was sparked early on. After completing classical training at the Culinary Institute of America, Austin began his career at Birmingham’s famed Hot and Hot Fish Club under JBF Award winner Chris Hastings. Austin and his wife moved to Mississippi to pursue their dream of opening their own restaurant, White Pillars, with a vision to provide a meaningful and memorable culinary experience crafted with locally sourced seasonal ingredients in a beautiful and historical setting. Austin was a 2020 James Beard Best Chef: South semifinalist for his work at the helm of White Pillars.

Allison Vick
Little Blue Macaron, Raleigh, NC

Allison Varick started her culinary career in Austin, Texas, where she progressed from pastry cook to executive pastry chef. In 2018, after moving back to her home state of North Carolina and starting a family, Allison decided to pivot from the restaurant industry to small business ownership as chef/owner of Little Blue Macaron, which specializes in creative, custom French macarons. In August 2022, she opened Little Blue Bakehouse, a coffee shop, bakery, and kitchen incubator for small bakery businesses.

Crystal Wahpepah
Wahpepah’s Kitchen, Oakland, CA

Crystal Wahpepah (Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma) is driven by an understanding of food as a bridge to connect others with Native issues. She opened the first Native woman–owned restaurant in Northern California, Wahpepah’s Kitchen, with the objective of acknowledging the Indigenous inhabitants of the land upon which we live, reclaiming Native foodways, and educating others on the health benefits of Indigenous food. Among her accomplishments, Crystal was a 2022 James Beard Emerging Chef nominee, was a JBF chef at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, is a member of the Beard Foundation/State Department collaborative American Culinary Corps, and has appeared on Chopped.

Learn more about the Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change. And sign up for our Industry Support Newsletter to learn about opportunities to get involved with JBF’s advocacy efforts year-round.