Steering Committee

Rich VergiliRich Vergili – Co-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.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJennifer Brizzi – Co-Chair, Steering Committee

Jennifer is our steering committee co-chair and has lived in the Hudson Valley for 20 years. She is a food writer, recipe developer and cooking teacher, fascinated with what she calls worldwide “grandma food” and traditional ways of creating it. She wrote about eating local before it was trendy and has since published numerous articles, columns and recipes for newspapers, magazines, books and online. She has done freelance editing for the Culinary Institute of America and healthy eating education for a local chain of natural foods stores. She also offers private culinary tasting tours via and blogs about food writing at and seafood-centric travel at

Jennifer’s food-related interests also include humane/sustainable food raising/growing, home gardening, making cheese and sausage, fermenting, foraging, food history and food travel.


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.



Sarah Underhill – Treasurer

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.


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.

Suki Hertz

Suki Hertz teaches nutrition at the Culinary Institute of America. Before making the leap in 2008 to full-time resident of the Hudson Valley, she spent weekends in the area searching out farm stands and loving her CSA. In NYC she worked as a cook/chef in restaurants, catering, food-styling, private chef, and in the test kitchen and website of the Food Network. She has been a contributing editor to Shape Magazine and Food & Wine. In addition to Suki’s obsession with food, she has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition from NYU.


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.


AM headshot2 - Copy (80x107) (1)Anne Maxfield

I’m a passionate food influencer who founded the Accidental Locavore as a lifestyle brand highlighting the importance of supporting local farmers and businesses, with a commitment to cooking and eating using locally grown food and produce.

Recently I’ve become a founding partner of Hudson Valley Eats —“Food With A Point of View” a website featuring articles, interviews and stories about chefs, restaurant owners, brewers & farmers of the Hudson Valley.

Along with that, I’m a business consultant at AM Consulting, working with women business owners in the food space that are at transformative points in their development, to build, sell, or save their companies.

You can also catch me weekly on Pawling Pubic Radio where we’ll be talking about food and business here in the Hudson Valley.

I enjoy speaking on women-owned business issues, particularly in the food space. I lead seminars and webinars.

Finally I’m a world traveler who has eaten her way through dozens of countries, waiting to work my way through many more!