We would like to welcome these wonderful presenters at the 2018 event:

Keynote Speaker

Ronni Lundy, Award-winning Author and Editor
From the mountains of Appalachia, Ronni Lundy uses her roots to teach the world the lessons and recipes from America’s Mountain South. Her most recent book “Victuals,” won a myriad of praise throughout the industry, including the prestigious 2017 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year Award. Her writing not only shares insights into the history and stories behind Appalachia’s unique food culture but, each essay is accompanied by a recipe. Her love of East Tennessee, writing and food occupy most of her time, and tables across America.


Photo of Peggy SmithPeggy Smith, Co-Founder of Cowgirl Creamery
Petaluma, CA
Over the years, Peggy learned the philosophies the family used in selecting and caring for artisanal cheeses. Then the folks from Neal’s Yard Dairy in London brought fine English farmhouse cheeses for the chefs to taste, and Peggy was hooked. When Sue asked her to consider starting a cheese company in Point Reyes, she agreed.

Chris Osborne, Cheesemaker at Blackberry Farm
Walland, TN
Purchased by the Beal family in 1975, Blackberry highlights local meat, produce and shares southern hospitality and a true sense of place with guests from around the world. Working as a chef in a restaurant kitchen that used natural and organic foods, Chris became passionate about quality and taste, gaining a new appreciation for farmers and small producers along the way. This eventually led him to Blackberry Farm in 2015, where he assumed responsibility for cheese production on the farm.

Cathy Strange, Whole Foods Market Global Cheese Buyer
Austin, Texas
Cathy Strange’s job title may be even better than it sounds. Through her years of studying, making and, yes, eating cheese, she has become an expert in choosing delicious cheeses that uphold Whole Foods’ strict quality standards. Her love or cheese has lead her from being a member and chair at the American Cheese Society to be inducted into the prestigious Guilde des Fromagers de Saint-Uguzon, an honor rarely presented to Americans. For Strange, cheese pairs perfectly with beer, travel and just about any occasion.

Nathan Arnold, Cheesemaker and Co-founder, Sequatchie Cove Creamery
Sequatchie Cove, Tennessee
Nestled in the Tennessee wilderness, the 300-acre Sequatchie Cove Farm is home to more than 50 Jersey and Jersey-Holstein cows who spend their days on lush pasture that is carefully managed to ensure the animals’ health. The herd provides the milk for the creamery’s array of raw milk cheeses, which take their cue from cheeses made in the Savoie region of France.

Judy Schad, Founder and Owner of Capriole Farms
Greenville, IN
After being gifted with a goat, Judy Schad began to make cheese through a happy accident; she just had to much milk! From one goat to over 500 goats at one point, Judy has perfected the art of goat cheese-making. Her work in the field of cheese-making has earned acclaim from around the world and continues to grace tables across the country.

Tipper Pressley, Blind Pig and The Acorn
Brasstown, NC
As this year’s “Preservation Presenter,” Tipper Pressley, founder and author of the blog, “Blind Pig and The Acorn,” will share her vast knowledge of Appalachia through her stories, experience and love of the region. Pressley lives in Appalachia’s Brasstown and has mission to preserve and share her Appalachia, all while celebrating its beautiful and rich culture.

Jeff Ross, Blackberry Farm Farmstead School Manager
Knoxville, TN
Local gardening expert and chef Jeff Ross will be speaking about wild (and not so wild) edible plants. He has worked in propagation, nursery management, garden design and restoration of period and historic gardens. His love for history colors his interest in the lore of the Appalachian region and its plantlife. Additionally, cooking is one of his greatest passions and is what drives him as a grower of organic herbs and vegetables. Jeff has now been working with plants for a living for 19 years. Learn the history and ways to incorporate free food into your menus!


East Tennessee Band of Cherokee Indians


Cherokees will present a program called “Food Sovereignty and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”


Brent Thompson, Sugarlands Distilling Company
Knoxville, TN
Brent Thompson is a vocalist, actor, voiceover artist, emcee and the director of marketing & strategy for Sugarlands Distilling Company. In 2012, Thompson joined the owners of Sugarlands to create and launch the opening of the Gatlinburg distillery followed by explosive product growth in the spirits industry. Originally from Chattanooga, Thompson has lived in San Francisco and now resides in Knoxville.  He has served in numerous community organizations including the March of Dimes, the Knoxville Public Art Committee and currently serves on the Gatlinburg CVB marketing committee, Rhythm n Blooms Festival Committee, Dogwood Arts Board of Directors, and the Knoxville Mayor’s Maker Council.


Steve Kaufman
Maryville, TN
Steve Kaufman is a Three Time Winner of the National Flatpicking Championships. His various kamps are visited by students from around the world. In addition to his teaching, touring, writing books, recording videos and CDs, he owns The Palace Theater in downtown Maryville, TN. We are very excited to have him be a part of our event!