Steering Committee

Rich VergiliRich Vergili – Chair, Steering Committee

Rich was a Professor at the Culinary Institute of America having developed a number of courses that connect culinary students to their food by looking at the food system through the lens of a critical eye on health, nutrition, politics, culture and the environment. In addition, he was the faculty adviser for the school’s chapter of Slow Food. Rich has served on the Steering Committee for close to a decade and filled the position of treasurer and chapter leader for periods of time in the past. He is very passionate about the mission of Slow Food by supporting local food producers as well as national and international artisans. He has served as a Slow Food USA delegate at the Tierra Madre in Torino, Italy in 2010 and 2012. Many of his personal hobbies surround food as he is an avid gardener, raises a few backyard chickens and produces wine, beer, sparkling cider and mead when he can find the time. He has recently started to produce some cheese and dabbles in curing meats like pancetta and guanciale.


DanTurgeonDaniel Turgeon – Secretary, Steering Committee

Daniel is formerly a Professor of Culinary Arts at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Chef Turgeon taught over fifteen of the CIA’s courses over his seventeen year tenure including chef-instructor of the prestigious American Bounty Restaurant. Before leaving the Institute he was responsible for redeveloping the curriculum in the CIA’s St. Andrew’s Restaurant. The new curriculum exposed CIA students for the first time to the topic of food production sustainability and the importance of supporting local food economies.

Chef Turgeon is a 1985 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. He has also studied at the Beringer Invitational School for American Chefs in California’s Napa Valley. Before returning to his alma mater as a faculty member, Chef Turgeon was executive chef at the Imperial Hotel in Chestertown, MD. At the age of 27 years old, Chef Turgeon earned critical acclaim from the Washington Post and an overall Zagot rating of eleven out of 600 restaurants in both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. He also worked in Chicago, Denver and other prestigious restaurants in Washington, DC, including the Morrison Clark Inn, Occidental Restaurant, and Mayflower Hotel. He is currently a Labor Relation’s Specialist with New York State United Teachers.


helen-coyle-bergsteinHelen Coyle Bergstein – Steering Committee

Helen was born and raised a city girl. Her family’s Golden Encyclopedia series had one book missing, or so they thought. Guess which one? Book F was tucked under Helen’s pillow and each evening was lovingly opened to the ‘farm’ page. That was the beginning of a lifelong passion for food and where it comes from. Professionally Helen wears several hats. She is the associate publisher of Edible Hudson Valley magazine which offers her the opportunity to meet many farmers, chefs, and food artisans from the Hudson Valley region. Edible Hudson Valley is celebrating its fifth year anniversary in the spring of 2014! Helen is a real estate agent and enjoys nothing more than exploring the mid Hudson region with home buyers who are seeking the perfect place to put down roots. She is also the founder and caretaker of, a global home exchange company where she hopes to encourage members to share food stories of their local communities and attract world travelers to the area she calls home. Helen is very excited about being a part of the Slow Food Steering Committee and sharing her insight on food, real estate and travel matters relating to the region.


Dina Falconi

Dina is a clinical herbalist with a strong focus on food activism and nutritional healing. She has been teaching classes about the use of herbs for food, medicine, and pleasure, including wild food foraging and cooking, for over twenty years. She produces Falcon Formulations natural body care products and Earthly Extracts medicinal tinctures. She is a founding member of the Northeast Herbal Association, a chapter leader of the Weston A. Price Foundation and on the board of Slow Food-Hudson Valley. An avid gardener and wildcrafter, Dina is passionate about ecological agriculture and has completed the Permaculture Design Certificate Course. She is the author of Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair: Natural and Healthy Personal Care for Everybody.


John Kowalski1John Kowalski

John Kowalski is a chef instructor of almost 30 years at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. During that time, John has authored a book on sausage making, The Art of Charcuterie and a book on preserving food, held an administrative position as Associate Dean, and taught many food disciplines as a chef instructor including international cuisines such as Eastern European and Mediterranean cuisines. In addition, he has won a number of culinary awards in competitions including the highly acclaimed Marc L. Sarrazin Trophy.

John is an avid gardener raising both fruits and vegetables at his home in Red Hook which is also indicative of his connection with Slow Food. In the last 2 years, prior to becoming a Steering Committee member, John was a major player in our Slow Meat programs in which he donated countless hours putting the event together and producing and sharing his expertise with all that attended. He also has shared different cured meats that he made such as duck pastrami, bresaola, copa colla, and other salumi.


kathleen-reynoldsKathleen Reynolds
Having recently moved to the Hudson Valley, Kathleen (a transplanted Jersey Girl) loves exploring her new locale – what better way to know a region than through its food stories? Finding it to be a virtual cornucopia for a local-food enthusiast, she enjoys dabbling in gardening, CSA membership and shopping at local farmers’ markets.

With a background is advertising and marketing in NYC, Kathleen now enjoys celebrating the abundance of the Hudson Valley as the editor of the Edible Hudson Valley e-newsletter and a volunteer at the Woodstock Farm Festival. As a member of the SFHV steering committee, she is especially honored to have an opportunity to help spread the philosophy of Slow Food and to celebrate everything that is wonderful about our local foodshed. When not exploring facets of food, Kathleen can be found enthusing about yarn at the Perfect Blend Yarn Shop in Saugerties.


GiovannaGiovanna Righini

For over 15 years, Giovanna has worked in the fast-paced environment of content research and rights clearances for commercial broadcast production. She is known in the industry for guiding production teams from initial creative process through to final legal approvals, which has enabled her to work with people and institutions around the world that are involved in intellectual property management. Her end clients have included Macy’s, Heineken, Adidas, HBO’s The Wire, Mercedes-Benz, Gnarls Barkley and Omega.

Giovanna joined Slow Food because she actively and passionately believes in their philosophy. Since relocating from NYC to the Hudson Valley, she has become involved in local preservation efforts and supports living local on all levels; from farm to conservation to small business economy.



Sarah Underhill

Hudson Valley resident since the early 80’s; RN for Hudson Valley Hospice, folksinger and Mom of four. I served on the Board of directors of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater for 6 years with their Environmental Advocacy committee, and am just finishing serving on the Board of the Brook Farm Project. I am currently on the Board/Steering Committee for the following groups: Rivertown Kids [children’s environmental and advocacy choir based in Beacon], People’s Music Network; member of  Mohonk Consultations working group for events; member of the Ethics Committee for Health Alliance of Kingston; ad hoc member of Wawarsing Environmental Commission; Friends of Historic Kerhonkson, D & H Canal Society and the Ellenville NAACP.