Panel on “Food, Culture, and Community” brings top chefs for Global Georgia

Seed Life Skills is a nonprofit, research-based curriculum founded by Chef Hugh Acheson that is dedicated to providing young people with essential knowledge and skills in family and consumer sciences. Acheson and Almeta Tulloss, executive director of the Athens-based organization, have partnered with the Willson Center to produce a symposium on “Food, Culture, and Community” on Feb. 22, the first in what is planned to be a series of annual collaborations for the Willson Center’s Global Georgia Initiative.

The symposium’s main event is a 4 p.m. panel discussion in the UGA Chapel that will bring together a handful of world-renowned figures in culinary and food policy circles. Joining Tulloss on the panel will be Chef Tom Collicchio, author, restaurateur, and head judge on the Bravo TV series “Top Chef”; Helen Rosner, executive editor of the online food culture magazine Eater; Rashid Nuri, president and CEO of the Atlanta-based Truly Eating Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture; and Chef Michel Nischan, author, food equity advocate, and founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization Wholesome Wave.

Acheson will serve as the panel’s moderator and Chuck Reece, editor in chief of the online magazine The Bitter Southerner, will give opening remarks before the discussion.

The symposium will also include a cooking competition for high school students at Athens Community Career Academy, with some of the visiting panelists as judges, at 11:30 a.m., and a 7 p.m. dinner to benefit Seed Life Skills hosted by Acheson’s Five & Ten restaurant in partnership with Creature Comforts Brewing and the Willson Center. Tickets to the dinner have sold out and attendance at the cooking contest is limited. To inquire about attending the contest, email the Willson Center at

A related event will be held Feb. 23 in partnership with the department of history and Dirty History, an interdisciplinary workshop in agriculture, environment, and capitalism. Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, will speak on “Burgers in the Age of Black Capitalism: How Civil Rights and Fast Food Changed America After 1968” at 5 p.m. in Room 101 of LeConte Hall.

“Seed Life Skills works to provide teachers and students with resources to enhance science learning, practice functional finance skills, and we provide hands-on support to classrooms through community collaborations – all as a means to advocate for the profession of Family and Consumer Sciences,” Tulloss said. “We believe every student in America should have the opportunity to learn these essential skills in a fun, practical, and impactful way.”

Acheson has participated in the Willson Center’s Global Georgia Initiative once before, hosting a conversation with Southern Foodways Alliance Director John T. Edge in 2015. “The Willson Center has been such an amazing champion for so many great things in Athens, so to have Seed Life Skills invited to partner with them for this symposium is really exciting for us,” Acheson said.

Regarding the panel discussion, he added, “Gathering a group like this, a motley crew of wonderfully talented and brilliant minds of food policy… I am interested in whittling down to what concise action can be taken to improve the food sphere for everyone in this country.”

The symposium is presented in partnership with Five & Ten, Creature Comforts Brewing, The Bitter Southerner, the Clarke County School District, Family Connection-Communities in Schools, the University of Georgia Press, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute.

The Willson Center’s Global Georgia Initiative presents global problems in local context with a focus on how the arts and humanities can intervene. The series is made possible by the support of private individuals and the Willson Center Board of Friends.