Meet the SFS 2012 Board Candidates

Chef Robin Leventhal

Chef Robin Leventhal

Rob Salvino

Rob Salvino

The nominating committee of the Slow Food Seattle board of directors has completed the process of selecting a slate of four candidates for board positions that will be proposed for election by voice vote at the annual meeting on Sunday, April 1st.

Renai Mielke

Renai Mielke

Anna Li

Anna Li

The nominees submitted background questionnaires that were evaluated by the committee and the board. Those selected as potential candidates were interviewed by a committee member. Our criteria for selecting candidates were – who would bring balance, enhancement, and experience to help us reach our goals.

Our bylaws stipulate that the members of the Slow Food Seattle Board of directors be elected by the membership. The nominating committee with the approval of the Board prepares a slate of candidates for board positions to be voted on by the membership attending the annual meeting.

During the past year there have been resignations of two members because of their job commitments. Our bylaws provide for the appointment of members to fill the unexpired terms of those resigning. This resulted in the appointment of Anna Li and Renai Mielke. Anna and Renai are now being placed on the ballot to be elected for a two-year term.

The board further considered and approved the applications of two additional candidates for board positions, Robin Leventhal and Rob Salvino.

Learn a little about the candidates below by their responses to the questions we posed and more in person at the

Annual Members Meeting on Sunday, April 1st.

The candidates are:

  • Robin Leventhal, website Follow Robin on Twitter Find on Chef Robin Leventhal on Facebook
  • Anna Li, TwizzlePop Marketing
  • Renai Mielke, website  Follow Renai on Twitter Find Renai on Facebook
  • Rob Salvino, Terra Preta Sales


Are you familiar with Slow Food and if so what aspects of the organization have been of most interest to you?

  • Robin – When I first heard of Slow Food, as in NOT Fast Food, it was on a trip to Italy after College Graduation. I was a big gardener and ceramicist at the time and had just begun my curiosity in the kitchen as more than just post college survival meals. I can thank my Italian roommate who taught me the recipes she had learned from her mother.This was in rural Maine where eating from the sea was a way of life and the table was very much a pleasurable experience. I ate this up as if I was famished. Not malnutrition from lack of food but rather devoid of soul. Very much the antithesis of what I grew up with. While my parents know good food, they did not know how to share the table with good conversation. Growing up, meals were about sustenance, and very devoid of pleasure. Butter, sugar and salt were forbidden in our household. And it seems my mother only knew how to kill what was already dead. What Barbra, my Italian roommate taught me was how fun and delicious dinner can be. I embraced the Slow Food philosophy the second I read about it, as it resonated with this new found appreciation of what sharing the table really can be.Our health is multi-faceted. Fundamentally, if we take care of ourselves then theoretically we will live a long and healthy life. But, in this day and age when time is short and opportunity for indulgence is everywhere, how do we find that balance? As a cancer survivor I know firsthand how vital a good night sleep and avoiding stress is to maintain our health. I embrace living well, sugar in moderation but to deny ourselves what the earth gives us would only deny our true potential.
  • Anna – I have been a member of Slow Food for a number of years. During my membership with the Seattle chapter, I furthered the Makah Ozette Potato presidium by spearheading an effort to use the potato in The Essential Baking Company’s Potato bread. The Makah Ozette was featured in the retail loaves during its season and the local potato, heirlooms, and Slow Food Seattle were featured in flyers inside the bread bags along with an extensive PR campaign. I feel Slow Food is a terrific organization that helps promote and educate about heirloom, local, and sustainable food systems, and the joys of sharing the table.
  • Renai – I love the awareness that Slow Food Seattle brings to the sustainability and harvest practices of Pacific Northwest seafood through social media and sponsored events, as well as Slow Fish. I’ve spent five years working in the seafood industry, and am also the daughter of an Alaskan commercial fisherman – seafood sustainability is what sparked my initial interest and love for food politics..
  • Rob – Although I have not followed it closely I am familiar with the Slow Food organization. In fact, I was living in Rome in 1985 when the first McDonalds restaurant opened up at the base of the Spanish Steps—an event which ultimately gave rise to the Slow Food movement. What most interests me about Slow Food? There isn’t just one thing. On the one hand there’s the appreciation of good food and food traditions. The commitment to healthy communities, sustainable agriculture, and the biodiversity of our food supply are just as important if not more so since they touch all of us.

Which volunteer or professional organizations have you been a member and what was/is the extent of your involvement?

  • Robin – HUTCH: Actively do outreach for the Premier Chefs Dinner. Cooked for it in 2005, have sat on the board from ’06 – present. This is a lifetime position for me as a Cancer Survivor. I want to see this research facility succeed in their pursuit of finding better treatments and ultimately cures for cancer. Northwest Pottery: Do outreach for the annual auction as well as teach a class combining my two passions: cooking and ceramic. This is about creating something special to share with someone. It’s about the aesthetics of pleasure, sharing and giving. The class culminates with a potluck where we share a table featuring students’ favorite dishes, both culinary and ceramic. My hope is they take away a few of the ingredients for a more meaningful and passionate life. FareStart: Have done 3 dinners over the past 10 years. I believe intensely in the vision and mission of this organization and am actively seeking employment as a Chef Instructor at their downtown location. My choice to return to teaching is threefold. I love facilitating people in their own personal discovery. Every day that I teach, I learn, thus perpetuating my own growth. But ultimately, it’s the importance of giving back that I feel teaching is important and rewarding work that not only empowers me but supports my community.
  • Anna – I have been involved with a number of organizations over the years in addition to my involvement with Slow Food Seattle. My experiences include member of Chefs Collaborative, volunteering for Seattle Tilth, board member of the Seattle Skating Club, member of Green Guerillas, founding member and board member of the Skating Club of Darien.
  • Renai – I am currently a member of the Puget Sound Mycological Society. I have in the past donated my time to Alleycat Acres; auction items, financial support, and time to Community Alliance for Global Justice/SLEE.
  • Rob – Organizations that I belong to or recently belonged to include Chefs Collaborative, Washingon Tilth, Seattle P-Patch, and PCC Farmland Trust. My volunteer life tends to mirror my personal and professional life. Over the past 15 years, my wife and I have been busy raising two very active boys so I’ve been involved in youth sports and schools. I’ve been a basketball and baseball coach. I was treasurer for the kids’ elementary school. I’ve had a keen interest in healthy food and healthy farms since the early 90s. Back in the early 90s while I was the chairman of the Chicago Sierra Club, I organized a group of members into a sustainable agriculture committee. We held conferences. We educated the broader community on the importance of healthy food and healthy farms.

Slow Food Seattle is dedicated to activities that create responsible and pleasurable experiences at the table. Please provide a brief description of your interest and activities related to such objectives.

  • Robin – I feel my connection to the table both through my background in ceramics and over 20 years in the culinary industry give me a unique angle on the pleasure of sharing a meal. It becomes even more powerful when we have been responsible for its creation. From planting the seeds for the lettuces in the salad to making the dressing and all the components that accompany it, I can facilitate that entire experience.
  • Anna – My interest in food and sharing its pleasures runs long and deep such that it is a core aspect of my being. I come from a family of foodies that conjures up memories such as my dad rousing a 4 year old me in the wee, early hours to get freshly made napoleons from the bakery and my having a distinct preference for the French-style powdered sugar versus the Italian-style iced napoleons. Or, my making soft pretzels at age 10. Or, the summer I picked raspberries with my 7-month pregnant sister so that we could put up that year’s supply of jam. Summers in Seattle, I’m obsessed with growing and harvesting from my peach tree and bringing forth the year’s heirloom tomatoes and other seasonal treats. I am an avid Farmers Market participant. I have also been a member of a supper club where a group of friends would gather together to prepare a multi-course themed meal. Knowledge is traded and everyone goes home nourished body and soul.All of this is to say that I have a devoted interest in food and that I believe that Slow Food is a wonderful hub where participation and the sharing of information with like-minded folks can result in the magical.
  • Renai – I maintain a “lifestyle” blog that focuses primarily on whole and wild foods, foraging, connecting with the outdoors and local farmers, and enjoying the Pacific Northwest through food and community. I have an interest in nutrition and herbal remedies, and believe strongly in eating out of respect, awareness, and pleasure.
  • Rob – Who doesn’t love a party? I believe that it is incumbent upon Slow Food Seattle to host events that people on both sides of the food equation together in a fun and informative manner. One of the particularly intriguing challenges that I think about all of the time is how to bring good food to the masses and reduce what tends to be an activity among the cultural elites (think Jamie Oliver). I don’t have an answer, but I’d love to share ideas with others like you.

What attributes/skills would you bring to the Board of Directors and what roles would you see yourself contributing to on the board.

  • Robin – What I bring to Slow Food is my passion for sharing the magic of life. As a chef, I know how wonderful a delicious meal can make us feel, satisfying not only our bellies but our soul. I want to be around for as long as possible to make as much delicious food, share insight on how someone can find their own personal bliss and then continue that cycle of pleasure into their communities. It will be a better world, one bite, one lesson, one shared meal at a time.
  • Anna – I have worked professionally in marketing for many years. My experience includes developing and executing brand positions, advertising, public relations, events and new media solutions. I have held positions with Ogilvy & Mather NY, Young & Rubicam, American Express, and ABCNews.com at Starwave. As the Director of Marketing and Sales at The Essential Baking Company, I became well versed in the issues and regulations of organics and “clean” food. I have managed internal, external and multi-departmental teams, and have worked on projects requiring innovative solutions. I hope to contribute to Slow Food’s efforts through my team building, marketing, communications and organizational skills.
  • Renai – I work professionally as an Accounting Specialist, have done event planning and small-scale catering for previous employers, have an always expanding desire for knowledge of wild foods (just beginning to learn about mycology), bake a mean gluten free brownie, and am a social networking geek. I’d be happy to use any of these skills through Slow Food Seattle and would be open to contributing in any areas that were deemed a good fit.
  • Rob – My professional life centers around sales and marketing, so it would be straightforward for me to bring those skills to the Board of Slow Food Seattle. I also have some experience with finance and accounting and if push came to shove I would accept a treasurer role. I don’t like Facebook or other social media (note the similarities between slow food and slow communication) but I do know that it’s a valuable modern communication tool. I know some tricks of the trade regarding it.

You can find a current list of the Slow Food Seattle board here.

Annual SFS Membership Meeting: Jan. 30

Join us for our Annual Slow Food Seattle Membership Meeting & Potluck on Sunday, January 30, 2011!

Free to all current SFS Members ~ Only $25 to join Slow Food!

We’ll share some wonderful food, introduce our current board members and the slate of new candidates, as well as take some time to chat about the different programs and areas that Slow Food Seattle is currently working on in the our community.

SFS Members – please register for this FREE event: RSVP by Saturday, January 29th via Brown Paper Tickets

Bring a dish and bring the family!

Please bring a potluck dish (any course you prefer) and a non-alcoholic beverage to share. This meeting is FREE and open to all current Slow Food Seattle members and their families.

Dishes should be ready to serve and include serving utensils. Bring your own plates, flatware and glasses, etc. We’ll provide cards for you to label your dish with its name & yours. Please note any dietary information that may be helpful to fellow members.

Share the Slow Food experience with friends and family: $25 makes you a member!

Join Slow Food USA for $25!

Event Info:

DATE: Sunday, January 30, 2011
TIME:
2:00 to 4:00 PM
LOCATION:
Montlake Community Center | 1618 E Calhoun St, Seattle, 98112
Free Parking | Directions

Questions? Contact Jennifer Johnson at info@slowfoodseattle.org or 206.423.4673.

Meet the SFS 2011 Board Candidates

The nominating committee of the Slow Food Seattle board of directors has completed the process of selecting a slate of 3 candidates for new board positions that will be proposed for election by voice vote at the annual meeting on Sunday, January 30th. The nominees submitted background questionnaires that were evaluated by the committee and the board. Those selected as potential candidates were interviewed by a committee member. Our criteria for selecting candidates were, who would bring balance, enhancement, and experience to help us reach our goals.

Learn a little about the candidates below by their responses to the questions we posed and more in person at the Annual Members Meeting on Sunday, January 30th.

The candidates are:


Are you familiar with Slow Food and if so what aspects of the organization have been of most interest to you?

  • CH – My understanding of the Slow Food mission is that it is focused on consumer-based education, cooking events, and get-togethers. I like that it continues to maintain and grow the community of people that are making the right choice when it comes time to buy their food. I like the people and the events that Slow Food supports to help those efforts as well.
  • PL – I am familiar with a number of Slow Food initiatives, such as Renewing America’s Food Tradition (RAFT), US Ark of Taste, and Slow Foods in Schools. I am especially excited to see programs that preserve food traditions and outreach to youth and families to promote greater awareness on what and how we eat. Locally, I have participated in a number of Slow Food Seattle events, including the RAFT American Traditions Picnics, membership meetings, Pike Place Artisan Food Festival, and albacore canning with Jeremy Brown. I am most interested in the partnerships and outreach created with local educational programs, including Orca K-8 and the Quillisascut Farm. I would very much hope to get involved with these programs. Finally, I’m very pleased to see the launch of the SFS book club starting 2011 and plan to be actively involved to make this a regular component of the organization.
  • JW – The most interesting aspects for me are the Ark of Taste and the community. The Ark of Taste is fascinating to me because it is a unique opportunity to pluck from the current agriculture examples of our history and development as a region. To be able to look at a Makah Ozette potato or an Olympia oyster within the larger food system and place those foods on a map and on a timeline is very cool. I am currently reading a lot about the intersections of food and history, and the Ark of Taste seems like a good place to start investigating the history of food in this country and beyond.To me, the community represents a promise from a group of people of all ages to support the “good, clean, fair” ideals in their own lives. When I was volunteering with Gerry and Melissa at the Pike Place Artisan Food Festival, my favorite part was talking to people from other chapters of Slow Food from around the country. One couple, from Arizona, told us about how the founder of their chapter is a chef in a very conservative part of the state where there aren’t a lot of like-minded, progressive people. But, they said, once every month, a group of 15-25 people gather at her restaurant for their meeting, which is held around a potluck of food made from plants and animals they grow or gather personally. The fact that this has been happening for so long and with such a solid group of committed people willing to drive for up to two hours to meet is a compelling reason to become a productive member of this community.

Which volunteer or professional organizations have you been a member and what was/is the extent of your involvement?

  • CH – I helped restart the Seattle chapter of the Chefs Collaborative in 2001 and was on the board for 5 years. I helped in all aspects of organizing cooking events, the farmer/fisher chef connection yearly event, cooking food for these events, coordinating chefs to meet farmers and ranchers to help develop relationships, and voting in new blood. I was the sergeant-at-arms.
  • PLbelow
    • Since summer, 2010, I have been on the community advisory board with the Wing Luke Asian Museum to curate an exhibit connecting food and Asian American culture, which will open in fall 2011.
    • In 2010, I also joined the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, which focuses on understanding and engaging with the 2012 Farm Bill. One project I’m heading is to bring author Dan Imhoff of Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to a Food and Farm Bill to speak in Seattle in February 2011.
    • Since 2008, I have been a volunteer producer and host on the KBCS radio, focusing on food and education issues. I have covered issues such as youth obesity, the Farm to School Movement, NAFTA impact on Oaxacan migrant farm workers in the Pacific Northwest, and the increase population of immigrant farmers in Washington state.
    • I served on the board of Gilda’s Club Seattle, a cancer support organization, from 2004 to 2009. In 2005, I led the organization’s major fund raising “Red Door” campaign, which raised over $500,000. I will be rejoining the board in 2011, with a focus to connect cancer prevention and recovery with food.
    • I have been involved in issues relating to cultural diversity. In 2002, I served on the steering committee for the Institute for Community Involvement (ICI), and spoke with county and state committees on issues relating to education, redistricting, and social service, as well as hosting political candidate forums.
  • JW – I’m a joiner from way back. To give you an idea of my varied interests, I’ll start in high school, where I was Vice President of the Ballard High School Key Club. As VP, I led biannual blood drives and organized many volunteer events. I was also a member of the National Honors Society. In college, I was President of Psi Chi, the National Honors Society in Psychology, and created relationships between my school (Scripps College) and mentorship programs at Pomona High School and the Los Angeles Downtown Women’s Shelter, as well as hosting speaker events. After college, I was Chapter Intern for the National Organization for Women in Seattle. I helped with fundraising events and attended meetings where I served as a voting member of NOW. I am a current member of Seattle Chefs Collaborative and have attended several meet and greet events, as well as larger events, such as Farmer-Fisher-Chef Connection 2010.

Slow Food Seattle is dedicated to activities that create responsible and pleasurable experiences at the table. Please provide a brief description of your interest and activities related to such objectives.

  • CH - My interest in that lies in the food that I prepare at my restaurant, TASTE, where I use the relationships that I have with our farmers, fishers, and ranchers as a tool to help educate our guests on seasonality, freshness, and clean tastes. I volunteer as much as I can at events that support such efforts like Farmer-Chef-Connection, the ARK picnic, and/or speaking at events to spread the word.
  • PL – I am deeply committed to promoting a better understanding of what and how we eat, especially for children and families, therefore food education is very important to me. I feel it is important to know the history of our food and preserve our food traditions as this is a critical way to create a sound and sustainable ecology. I am also interested in the future of our food ways and want to take part in policy issues relating to our agricultural system. Finally, I want to encourage a dialogue about food that is culturally diverse and inclusive. Slow Food USA as well as Slow Food Seattle are already involved with many of these issues that I’m passionate about, therefore I wish to have the opportunity to serve on the board to expand on these programs. In 2009, my wife and I founded READERS to EATERS, a bookseller and publisher of books about food with a mission to promote food literacy by connecting good eats and good reads. Our goal is to promote a better understanding of how we eat and where our food comes from. Some of our activities include the following:
    • Partnered with the King County Library System to sponsor a food literacy series with farmers, nutritionists, and educators
    • Sold books about food at a variety of food events, including farmers markets, schools, farm harvest festivals, Chefs Collaborative’s Farmers Fisher Chef Connection, Solid Ground Annual Dinner, International Food Blogger Conference, and Seattle Tilth Harvest Festival
    • Gave presentations and organized speaker panels connecting good eats and good reads to local food justice and food security organizations, such as Washington Food Coalition and Seattle Tilth
    • Created reading lists on food for schools, libraries, community kitchens, medical associations and food related service organizations
    • Created a One City Read program for the city of Auburn in partnership with the Auburn Farmers Market and Auburn Public Library, using Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids. Events included film showing, gardening presentations, author signings, and fund raising to donate copies of the book to every school in Auburn.
    • Launching the R2E publishing program in 2011, with first book on how to use school gardens as an educational tool.
  • JW – To put it simply, I love to eat, and I eat very well. I often eat at restaurants which sport the Slow Food seal of approval sticker on their window, shop at farmers markets for everything from cheese to kale, mushrooms to oysters, and I talk about my food experiences constantly. Most recently, I have been sharing my opinions in my role as Moderator for the Food & Drink category of Questionland (a website affiliated with The Stranger). In this position, I have the power to create links between the average person and experts in food and drink by featuring key people on the site to answer user questions. I also write the majority of the Questionland Food & Drink blog, Swallowing Seattle, which focuses on events, restaurants, and food trends, history, issues, etc. (more posts are currently in the editing phase). A major goal for everyone involved in the site is to promote real, sustainable, local, responsible food and food practices. We are still developing plans for how to do this most effectively, but will be starting with articles written for the blog by or about writers/food activists such as Laurel Miller and Becky Selengut.

What attributes/skills would you bring to the Board of Directors and what roles would you see yourself contributing to on the board.

  • CH – After being on the Chef’s Collaborative board, I see the education from the industry side which could only bring a different perspective on the consumer side, which is how I understand Slow Food is focused. I love to sit with a group of like minded folks and brainstorm ideas of how to better promote the idea of buying foods locally with the understanding that it only helps our local economy.
  • PL – I was the co-founder of a publishing company, Lee & Low Books, and its publisher for 14 years. Prior to that I worked in magazine publishing and in the last few years have worked in radio as well as new media such as podcasting. I have extensive experience in marketing and event planning. I have also served on non-profit boards doing public advocacy and fundraising. Finally, I have worked with the local food community, from chefs, farmers, cafeteria managers, culinary instructors, public health officials to food policy advocates. I can contribute to the following areas:
    • Education
    • Community Building & Outreach
    • Event Planning
    • Fundraising
    • Advocacy
    • Marketing
  • JW – I am happiest when connecting people with one another as well as with events, restaurants and organizations that I feel would be positive for them. To that end, I am very resourceful and have a great memory and love of networking for myself and on behalf of organizations. I also enjoy writing and editing and worked for almost a year as the Editorial Assistant at Edible Seattle magazine. While there, I wrote many articles about cheese (my passion) and helped the Editor, Jill Lightner, with content editing, planning the content calendar, gathered events and visited other parts of the state to scout story ideas. From those experiences, I would bring to Slow Food Seattle the ability and desire to help write and/or edit written materials, such as pamphlets, newsletters, and emails. Another role I have enjoyed in other organizations, and which I would enjoy doing for Slow Food Seattle, is that of event planner. I am good at coming up with ideas for events, garnering interest from the types of people who would enjoy those events, and then aiding in planning details (event space, funding, merchandising, vendors, etc.). Although I don’t know all the details of the opportunities available to Board members, I feel as though I have plenty to offer in a wide variety of areas.