Speaker's Biographies

Midwest Eats!
Foodways of the Great Depression


APRIL 29, 30 & MAY 1, 2011
Kendall College, Chicago, Illinois



Podcast of all presentations



Program Information

Maxwell St. History and Tour

Wood fire cooking class




Speaker Biographies



Michael Agnew, Beer Production after Prohibition: Setting the Stage for the Rise of the Mega-breweries

Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew is the lead educator and owner of A Perfect Pint. He conducts beer tastings for private parties and corporate events. His beer musings can be read in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, on his own Perfect Pint Blog and the Serious Eats foodie blog, and in respected national beer magazines. He is currently working on a travel guide to breweries of the Upper Midwest.


Robert Dirks, Steaks and Shakes and the Great Depression


Robert Dirks is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University. He is curator of Come & Get It!, an exhibit at the McLean County Museum of History about 175 years of eating and drinking in Central Illinois. His publications include papers in Annual Review of Nutrition, Journal of Nutrition, The Cambridge World History of Human Disease, American Anthropologist, and Current Anthropology.   



Peter Engler, John Drury, Ace Chicago Restaurant Reporter of the 1930s


Peter Engler, a native of Buffalo NY, has lived in Chicago for most of his life. He has a particular interest in the distinctive foods of Chicago’s South Side and has spoken on this topic at the three previous Greater Midwest Foodways symposia. In the past few years he has spent many days at the Newberry Library reading their massive collection of John Drury’s personal papers.


Michael GebertNightclubs and Bread Lines: Depression Era Foodways On Film

Michael Gebert is a freelance writer and blogger about food at Sky Full of Bacon. He has written about food for the Reader, Time Out Chicago, Saveur.com and others, and he is the founder of NitrateVille.com, an international discussion site devoted to silent and early sound era film.


Lori L. Grove, Chicago’s Maxwell Street

Lori L. Grove is a museum professional.  She has worked at The Field Museum since 1981.  Grove has been involved in the preservation of Maxwell Street since 1991.  During this time she co-authored two National Register nomination applications for a historic district on Maxwell Street, and co-authored Chicago’s Maxwell Street  for Arcadia Publishing in 2002.  As a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, she created and directed the Historic Maxwell Street Neighborhood Tour from 1998 through 2001.  Lori is a founding member of the Maxwell Street Foundation.  Lori has a Masters in Art History from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She is married and lives in Chicago.


David Hammond, Maxwell Street Tour

David Hammond is a moderator of LTHForum.com, the 9,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David contributes restaurant reviews and food-related articles for Chicago Tribune and Chicago Reader, which published his seven-part guide to regional Mexican food. David can be heard on the James Beard-nominated Eight Forty-Eight (WBEZ, 91.5FM) and he writes the weekly
“Omnivorous in Oak Park” for the Wednesday Journal and “Food Detective” for Chicago Sun-Times.


Gina Hunter, Co-eds at the Co-op: Student Depression-Era Foodways at Old Normal

Gina L. Hunter, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University, is a cultural anthropologist. She has conducted ethnographic research on foodways, women’s reproductive health, and access to higher education in Brazil. She is Co-Director of the Ethnography of the University Initiative (based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), a program that fosters ethnographic and archival student research on their own universities. She is also Co-Director of the Old Main Project at Illinois State, an archaeological and oral history project dedicated to investigating and preserving the past of “Old Main,” the first structure of Illinois’ first public university. 



Michael Killmer, Templeton Rye of Iowa, its history during and just after the prohibition


Michael Killmer (AKA “Catfish”) has spent many years in the hospitality industry before and after attending Iowa State University. He is the Brand Manager at Templeton Rye and chances are, if you’ve ever been poured a sample of The Good Stuff, Michael was the one tipping the bottle.




Michael’s pride and joy is his yellow lab Dixie, who Michael trained as a stellar hunting companion. When he is not introducing the world to Templeton Rye, Michael is fond of hunting, Cyclone athletics, wine and gourmet cooking.


Bruce Kraig, Down on the Midwestern Farm During the Great Depression: Dust Bowl and Economics and Maxwell Street Tour


Bruce Kraig is an accomplished scholar in the history of food within the larger context of the social and cultural history of the United States. He holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and has won numerous awards including the Silver Apple Award for “Hidden Mexico,” and an Emmy and CHRIS awards for the program “Hidden China,” as well as the Gold Apple and Bronze Medal for the program “Food for the Ancestors.” Bruce is President of Culinary Historians of Chicago and of Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance.



Seleena Kuester, Cooking on a woodfired stove at Primrose Farms

Seleena Kuester is a museum educator for the Lake County Discovery Museum & Bonner Heritage Farm.  She has worked in museums and living history for over 10 years and learned to cook on a wood stove while interpreting life in 1880s Schaumburg at Volkening Heritage Farm.



Whitney Lingle, No Longer does the Holiday Table Groan Under the Weight of Food


Whitney Lingle holds a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She has published a chapter on Vietnamese cuisine for a middle school social studies textbook with Ball State’s Department of Anthropology and researches food and culture with a focus on economic and environmental sustainability.


Anne Mendelson, This Land is Whose Land?

Anne Mendelson has been a culinary historian and food writer for more than twenty-five years. She has collaborated with chef-restaurateur Zarela Martinez on three cookbooks: Food from My Heart (Macmillan1992), The Food and Life of Oaxaca (Macmillan 1997), and Zarela’s Veracruz (Houghton Mifflin 2001). She is the author of Stand Facing the Stove (Henry Holt 1997; a biography of the authors of The Joy of Cooking) and Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk through the Ages (Knopf 2008). A former contributing editor for Gourmet Magazine, she currently holds a fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Foundation.


Victoria Moré, Co-eds at the Co-op: Student Depression-Era Foodways at Old Normal


Victoria Moré is Assistant Archivist at McLean County Museum of History and holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Illinois State University. Her B.A. thesis, Freeganism at Illinois State University, examines themes of food, consumption, and waste.



Katerina Nussdorfer, The American (Bad) Dream: Soup Kitchens and European Immigrants in Chicago in the 1930’s


Katerina Nussdorfer (nee Pejovska)  was born in Skopje, Macedonia where she studied English Language and Literature (BA) and International Economics (MA). She also studied for a year at Roosevelt University in Chicago, majoring in Liberal and Performing Arts. She is currently working on her PhD on food, immigrant culture and identities in U.S. literature at the University of Vienna in Austria, where she also works at the Centre for Canadian Studies.



Deanna Pucciarelli, PhD, Community Canning in the Depression: A case study


Deanna Pucciarelli, PhD. is Assistant Department Chairperson and Assistant Professor, in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, Ball State University, Muncie, IN. Dr. Pucciarelli’s research projects include investigating environmental determinants to human food consumption patterns. Some of the variables that impact food intake: cultural, familial, local and national food policies, psychological, socio-economical level have been the focus of her research program. Another area of investigative interest is food history. A recent research project examined historic documents such as diaries, newspapers, rare cookbooks as part of tracing the medicinal use of chocolate over a two-hundred year span. Dr Pucciarelli teaches a course on Food and Culture with an emphasis on understanding the relationships between food consumption and socio-political influences. She has published a book, book chapters and multiple peer reviewed journal articles on food and culture.



Christopher Robert Reed, The Depression Comes To The Black Metropolis


Christopher Robert Reed

is a native Chicagoan who has blended his love of Chicago with his scholarly research. The result has been the publication of numerous books and articles on the dynamics of African American life from Du Sable to the 1830s, and into the twentieth century. He currently is professor emeritus of history at Roosevelt University and general secretary to the Black Chicago History Forum.


Margaret Rung, Moderator of Friday afternoon’s panel


Margaret Rung is director of the Center for New Deal Studies and Associate Professor of History at Roosevelt University.  Author of the book, Servants of the State: Managing Diversity and Democracy in the Federal Civil Service, 1933-1953, she has focused her research on politics and political institutions in twentieth-century America.  As director of the Center for New Deal Studies, she works to promote the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and their New Deal through speaking engagements, event sponsorships and community outreach.



James Wolfinger, Cities and urban life as they transitioned from “prosperity” to depression. 


James Wolfinger holds a joint appointment in history and education at DePaul University where he teaches urban, political, labor, and African American history as well as history education courses.  He is the author of Philadelphia Divided: Race and Politics in the City of Brotherly Love and his articles and reviews have appeared in the Journal of American History, American Historical Review, Journal of Urban History, and Labor.