Working for Good, Clean, Fair Food for All - Slow Food Urban San Diego Convivium of Slow Food International

Board Members

Jennifer Leong

Jen’s passion for food, cooking, education and sustainability inspired her to get involved with Slow Food. (Jamie Oliver had a part in it too!) A SFUSD member since 2008, she served as Youth Education Chair in 2011 and took on the role of Co-Leader in 2012. Much of her childhood was spent in the kitchen. Her dad owned a Chinese restaurant and let her sit on the counter while he taught her how to make Cantonese treats. Her interest blossomed and broadened over the years as she traveled the world touching and tasting all she could – from the far reaches of Inuit Quebec to every corner of Italy. Jen owns a local craft beer and wine bar called Next Door, and when she’s not at the helm of the bar, you can find her around and about taking in all she can about local food and wine, or in the kitchen cooking with friends!

Rachel Marie Helmer

Rachel developed a deep appreciation for food early on in life. Through her father she discovered her love of produce on the family’s citrus and avocado ranch in Valley Center. Through her mother’s Italian side she found her passion for baking and preparing meals from scratch with love and local ingredients. Rachel turned this passion for food into a career nearly ten years ago when she started a gluten free baking and recipe development company known as Mari Made. Through this endeavor, she got to know the San Diego food community and in 2008, hung up her Mari Made apron to pursue a career with Specialty Produce. Since then she’s worked as their creative director managing food photography, product research, marketing and event production. Her work takes her throughout California and allows her to participate in food, health and community betterment events throughout San Diego County.

Chelsea Coleman

Chelsea is a San Diego Native who grew up munching on Oxalis and scraping her legs in the canyon chaparral and sage scrub. She has always loved eating and sharing food with friends and family and has spent the last decade pursuing just that. Chelsea received a certificate in the Culinary Arts from the Slow Food-sponsored, Apicius: The Culinary Institute of Florence, in 2004 and has worked in kitchens and on organic farms in Italy, San Diego, Argentina and Hawaii. Chelsea is the proprietress at The Rose Wine Pub on 30th in South Park where she brings high quality ingredients to a great community.

Dana Palermo 

Dana is passionate about all things related to food! She works as a Dietitian at the VA Medical Center and at Rady Children’s Hospital where she provides education and teaches classes on a variety of nutrition related topics. After work she is most likely cooking with her CSA box, taking a long hike, or enjoying a meal and brew with friends. Through her education and career she has learned the value of sustainability, plant biodiversity, and a that healthy food systems make for healthy communities/citizens. She is very excited be part of Slow Food URBAN and to further work toward educating, promoting, and helping people understand and have access to good, clean, and fair food.

Christina Nelson
Youth Education

In 2011, Christina joined the San Diego sustainable farming community by volunteering at Seeds@City urban farm.  Her strong background in cooking, baking, and gardening led her to this opportunity, which rocket-launched her into this wonderful network of food-obsessed folks.  Combining her passion for food with her decade of experience in youth education, she started working with Slow Food in 2013.  She now not only eats good, clean, fair food but speaks, breathes, and dreams it each and every day.  Christina is currently studying nutrition and artisan bread baking.

Tania Alatorre
Good Food Community Fair and Volunteer Coordinator 

Tania is one of those rare San Diego natives. After spending a few years living in NYC, Los Angeles and an organic farm in Northern California she returned to her hometown. An avid cyclist and kale enthusiast she is often spotted on her road bike at the local farmers market. She loves connecting with other community members that are equally as passionate about the local food community, sharing recipes and gathering around the table.

Jessica Barlow

Jessica is a professor at San Diego State University (SDSU) and directs the Sage Project, a partnership between the University and local government that focuses on smart growth, quality of life, and sustainability goals. Jessica also has served on SDSU’s Senate Sustainability Committee since its inception.  In addition, she guides faculty in higher education in incorporating concepts of sustainability into their courses.

Adina Batnitzky
Family Programming

Adina has been interested in ways to get families more involved in eating good, clean, fair food since her daughter was born 7 years ago. Years living in Morocco inspired Adina to promote food as a medium through which to build community and maintain tradition. When not trying to think of ways to get families more active in food issues, Adina can be found teaching and conducting research as a professor of sociology at USD.  She is the happiest when cooking with her husband and daughter at home and discussing what to make for their next meal.

Sarah Shoffler

A fishery biologist, culinary tinkerer and sometimes writer, Sarah discovered the Slow Food community when searching for simple ways to explain what seafood we “should” eat. Her background in fishery biology meant that she was always asked. Now, instead of answering “it’s complicated,” she extols the Slow Food principles of Good, Clean and Fair seafood for all. She not only strives for sustainable seafood in her vocation, she aims to help bring Good, Clean and Fair food to the urban San Diego community. Sarah brings over 15 years professional experience in communication to her position on the SFUSD Board. Her work has taken her to the far reaches of the California Current, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Canada, and Mexico and the fish markets therein.

Owen Salerno
Farm Liaison

Owen grew up eating food. I guess we all did, but coming from an Italian family in New York and Pennsylvania, food was always a center of his upbringing. Gathering around the dinner table to share stories from school that day, or eating with the grandparents, and visiting his local farms were common parts of his upbringing. When he learned that not everyone had those same beliefs and experiences with food, Owen was led to the Slow Food movement. Outside of sitting on the board for Slow Food Urban San Diego, Owen works as the Director of Marketing for Suzie’s Farm, a 140-acre certified organic farm here in San Diego. He can also be found often walking his dogs and enjoying one of San Diego’s many amazing craft beers (though not at the same time).

Lydia Wisz 

Lydia is passionate about health and wellness. This passion grew from a variety of experiences starting with a life-long pursuit of a healthy diet, to researching an epidemic of childhood obesity, to coping with unhealthy lifestyles that accelerate the instances of chronic disease and the costs required to manage them. Lydia curates Food Wisz-dom, a blog focused on sustaining healthy behaviors in the interest of minimizing health problems. As a seasoned writer with marketing, communication and community outreach skills, she is also a Health and Wellness consultant and works on nutrition projects that can make a measurable impact on health and healthcare, and place San Diego at the forefront of optimal health.

Aundrea Domniguez 
Ark of Taste

Aundrea is a North Carolina native who grew up in a Southern California home where keeping a garden, recycling, and composting were commonplace. She moved steadily north from San Diego to Santa Barbara, and eventually San Francisco in search of exceptional food and a strong creative community. In 2010, on the advice of a botanist friend to “consider plants” as a new direction for her career, Aundrea became an apprentice at Seeds@City Urban Farm. She rounded out her skill-set as an apprentice in the culinary gardens of some of San Diego’s most beloved eateries and an exotic fruit orchard. In 2013 Aundrea became the Garden Manager at The Golden Door Spa in North County San Diego. She oversees several acres of biodynamic culinary gardens and collaborates daily with the Executive Chef to educate, promote wellness, and encourage guests to connect to their local food system.

Kathryn Rogers
University Outreach

Kathryn has been passionate about health, sustainability and food systems for as long as she can remember. She spent her formative years in her mom’s garden and kitchen, helping create healthy recipes from the herbs and vegetables they grew in the back yard. During college, she traveled to Costa Rica to learn about sustainable agriculture. On that trip, she also visited a commercial banana plantation and saw firsthand the damaging impact that pesticides had on the workers, the community and environment.  She has been an avid supporter of local, organic food production ever since. Pairing her love of food with 10 years experience in strategic communications, she now blogs about food justice and conscious eating. When she’s not crafting grain-free dishes in her kitchen, Kathryn develops campaign plans, writes content and designs graphics for local businesses and non-profits.

Please email us at if you are interested in joining our Board.

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