Our Staff

As Calvin Trillin says, food writing is never about the food. New York Table is about the place where food and everything else intersect, across the five boroughs.  Meet our staff, M.S. students at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Join us on Twitter @NYTable and Instagram @nytable

Andrew Adams is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, originally from Philadelphia, PA. Prior to school Andrew worked in the food industry, from selling high-end wine to working the morning shift at a bakery. Andrew has focused on feature writing specifically about sports and food. You can contact Andrew at AEA2177@Columbia.edu.

Angela Wang is a Data M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School and a Brooklyn-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Vice/Motherboard, Gothamist, Atlas Obscura, Jezebel, and more. Her latest food obsession is making all manner of mochi. Follow her most places @angelareplica.

Christine Chun is a part-time M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School who works full-time as one of the copy chiefs at the legal trade publication Law360. She particularly loves Korean and Thai food, but the best dish she’s had in New York City so far is the hazelnut souffle from Manhatta. You can reach her at cc4310@columbia.edu or @chunchr on Instagram.

Julian Coltre is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School. With a long line of family members having served as chefs and restaurant owners, Julian has been around food all of his life, which serves as the inspiration for his writing. He’s as fond of the fine dining experience as he is of sitting down at a dive bar with a beer and wings. You can follow him @JulianColtre or contact him at jc5093@columbia.edu

Lauren Edmonds, a food lover who can’t cook, is an M.S. student hailing from Orlando, Florida. While at Columbia Journalism School, Lauren has focused on feature writing with an emphasis on the food, health and culture beats. You can follow her @laurensimone_95 or contact her at lse2113@columbia.edu.

Emily Malcynsky is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, specializing in narrative longform and feature writing. She covers food, culture and health and wellness. A native of New England, she’s been hunting for the best oyster happy hour in NYC since 2015. Email her at emm2304@columbia.edu.

Victoria Pardo is from Nantucket, Massachusetts and has a dual interest in architectural history and food ways. She is exploring this relationship through research, writing, observation and investigation. She is currently a candidate for a master’s degree in historic preservation from Columbia University. She enjoys eating chicken parmesan and traveling. Email her at vap2136@columbia.edu.

Paivi Ala-Risku is an M.S. in Data Journalism student at Columbia Journalism School. She’s originally from Finland, where she worked as a health reporter at the largest newspaper in the Nordic countries. In addition to coding and statistics she really loves tomatoes.

Sara Shah is a freelance writer and meditation teacher based in NYC. Her current favorite ingredient to experiment with is fennel. When Sara isn’t cooking, she enjoys learning about food, culture, meditation, and mental health—she writes on these subjects too. She is currently an M.A. student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  Email her at ss5578@columbia.edu

Megan Taros is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School. She is a native of Los Angeles and has covered Latino issues, city government and local news throughout California and the tri-state area. Find her making and eating Mexican food. Contact her at mt3294@columbia.edu.

Jinna Wang is a freelance writer and MBA student at Columbia Business School. Her writing focuses on travel, food, and culture. When she isn’t studying for the next sommelier certification exam, she is usually found in the kitchen testing new recipes. You can contact her at jinnawang1933@gmail.com

Maura Whang is a Manhattan-based writer and designer whose interests span the arts, culture, food, and the intersection of social politics and the built environment.  She graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in English, received a master’s degree in architecture from City College, and is a candidate for a master’s in historic preservation at Columbia.  She and her chef husband enjoy traveling whenever possible.  Email her at maurawhang@gmail.com.

Yuan Yuan, an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, was born and raised in China. She earned a double bachelor’s degree in both science and health journalism from the University of Missouri and in International Journalism from south China’s Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. Yuan focuses on writing for print or digital platforms, with an emphasis on the environment, health, food, culture, and their intersections. Email her at yuan.y@columbia.edu.

Previous staff members

Tasneem Alghamdi, an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, was born in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Egypt and Russia and has lived in Indonesia and Turkey, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and design from Bilkent University in Ankara and completed internships at UNICEF and the UNHCR. Tasneem focuses on narrative journalism and feature writing, with an emphasis on immigration and international affairs. She is interested in the intersection of food, culture, and politics. Contact her at Tasneem.alghamdi@columbia.edu or twitter: @TasneemAlGhamdi

Sabrina Caserta, born in the Bronx, is a freelance reporter whose work has appeared in the New York Daily News and Street Sense, a homeless-run street paper located in Washington, D.C. Currently an M.S. Stabile student at Columbia Journalism School, Sabrina is passionate about social justice reporting, including issues of homelessness, health-care, education and the environment. As an avid reader, health enthusiast and travel addict, Sabrina enjoys yoga, cooking and writing. She aspires to one day be an investigative journalist and travel the world. Twitter: @sabrinacaserta.

Lynn Fantom is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, where her reporting has taken her to evangelical churches, textile factories, and food pantries throughout NYC. A native New Englander and former ad agency CEO, she will be happy to tell you why soft-shelled lobsters are better than hard-shelled. Email her at lf2542@columbia.edu.

Bo Hamby is a food writer and lover. He currently covers the environment, and, of course, anything related to food. He was born and raised in the best food city in the world, Singapore, and he’s also lived in Los Angeles, where good tacos dominate every corner. He can be reached on Twitter: @hamby_bo or email: bjh2167@columbia.edu

Aisha Hassan is a writer who grew up in Malaysia and England. She is a student in the M.S. program at Columbia Journalism School, and currently focuses her work on food and health. Aisha holds a B.A. in literature from the University of Oxford and previously covered wellness for Harper’s Bazaar Malaysia. When she is not craving Asian food or dreaming of a road trip, she is looking for her next story. Follow her on Twitter @aishabhassan or email her at ah3202@columbia.edu.

Caroline Hroncich is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School. She received a B.A. in communication from Villanova University and worked as an editor for three pharmaceutical business magazines. Caroline is an ambitious reporter who enjoys telling stories through food. Follow her on Twitter @chroncich1 or email her at cnh2106@columbia.edu.

Aaron McDonell Moline is a freelance writer and M.S student at Columbia Journalism School. During his time at Columbia, his work has focused on longform narrative storytelling. He isn’t a great chef, but is endlessly fascinated by the stories he has uncovered by reporting about food. He can be reached at aaron.m.moline@gmail.com

Aisha Powell is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School. She received a B.A. in print journalism and Innovative entrepreneurship from Pennsylvania State University and has her own fitness company with a website blog that has 30,000 readers worldwide. Aisha is a native New Yorker who loves Caribbean and African food, as well as transforming recipes to be vegan-friendly. Follow her fitness page @bodiedbyscorp and email her at ap3659@columbia.edu.

Shaleen Shah is an exchange student from Howard University in Washington D.C. originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. His interests are arts and entertainment journalism, feature writing and photography. He likes travelling and writing about culture, events, food, and people. So far, he has travelled from Nepal to Kenya, Argentina, and the U.S. His website is shaleenjshah@wordpress.com. You can contact him at shaleenshah95@gmail.com.

Amanda Williams is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, focusing on fashion business journalism and media management techniques. She was the features editor for The Montclarion before receiving her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Montclair State University. She speaks French on an intermediate level. Contact her via email at abw2161@columbia.edu or on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/abwilliams1.

Yiwei Xu is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, from China. He received a B.A. in linguistics from Nanjing University. While at Columbia, he has focused on feature writing and longform narratives. If dishes could clean themselves, he could spend half of his waking hours cooking. Email him at: yx2431@columbia.edu.

Sanam Yar is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, where she covers culture, gender, and immigration. Growing up near Toronto, Canada, she was raised on a steady diet of Persian food, pistachio ice cream, and books. The only thing bigger than her love of writing is her sweet tooth. You can follow her @sanam_yar or email her at sy2747@columbia.edu.

Emily Churchill is a dual-degree Master’s student in journalism and religion at Columbia University. She is particularly interested in faith-based actors and their impact on political and social movements in the developing world. She appreciates looking at food as an entry point to culture. She can be reached at emc2235@columbia.edu or found on Twitter @e_m_churchill.

Annette_HeadshotAnnette Ejiofor is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School. Ejiofor is currently working as an intern reporter for NBC News while advancing her career as a Beyoncé stan. Ejiofor is a cultural reporter most motivated by the stories of communities, people, and groups, nationally and internationally. You can stay in touch with her on Instagram @itsmagesty.

Nina_HeadshotNina Friend grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. During her time in the M.S. program at Columbia Journalism School, Nina has focused on narrative journalism and feature writing, with an emphasis on food reporting. An aspiring magazine writer, Nina loves using food as a window into a story. Follow her on Instagram at @ninafriend or email her at nina.friend@columbia.edu.

Lisa_HeadshotLisa Kocay is student in the M.S. program at Columbia Journalism School and a Lehigh University alumna. She will intern for Forbes this summer. The aspiring food journalist can most likely be found baking chocolate chip cookies or trying new restaurants. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lisakocay, or email her lisakocay@aol.com.

Senhao_HeadshotSenhao Liu, from China, is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Washington in Seattle. He was a part-time anchor at the Nightly News program on Chinese Radio Seattle for three years, and dubbed the CCTV program Legal Report in Chinese. Anthony Bourdain’s TV show, Parts Unknown, inspires him to explore the world of food. Email him at sl3896@columbia.edu or follow him at @mrliusenhao.

Margie_HeadshotMargie Merritt is an M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School and received her B.A. in strategic communications from Hampton University. Her passion for food began at an early age in the kitchen cooking with both of her parents. She now enjoys writing about food and issues related to food and health. When she’s not writing about food or eating, she’s snapping pictures around the city. Email her at margie.merritt@columbia.edu.

Reuben_HeadshotReuben Torres is a writer from the San Diego-Tijuana border and a student in the M.S. program at Columbia Journalism School. His journalism mostly focuses on Latin American art and culture. He also produces and performs music as Conejito Colvin and as part of the electronic-music group Los Macuanos, Follow him on Twitter: @conejitocolvin

Natasa Bansagi

Natasa Bansagi, an M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School, graduated from Queen’s University in Canada, where she worked at her campus television outlet and newspaper while studying politics and economics. She interned at NTV in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and at CBC’s bureau in London, England. Natasa’s favorite food is ice cream, and she is especially interested in the intersection between food and politics. You can reach her at nsb2154@columbia.edu or on Twitter @natasa__b.

Gema FloresGema Flores, who has a Ph.D. in food science, has been working as a researcher in the area of food science and Nutrition for 14 years in Madrid, Reading (England), and New York, focusing her studies on the identification of new compounds in edible plants that have health benefits. The author of numerous scientific articles, she is currently pursuing a masters degree in nutrition at Columbia University, as well as the Journalism School’s food writing class. Email her at gf2346@cumc.columbia.edu or follow her on Twitter at @geflm.

Xinyu JingXinyu Jing grew up in a small city in northeastern China and earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Renmin University of China. Before coming to the M.S. program at Columbia Journalism School she interned at several Chinese cultural magazines, covering art, film and food. Ask her about Chinese food. Her plan? To start a New Yorker-style magazine in China. Contact her at xj2172@columbia.edu or on Twitter, @XinyuJing.

Sang KimSang Woo Kim was born in Korea and has lived in the United Kingdom and Canada. He moved to Tokyo to attend college, majoring in Mandarin Chinese and journalism. After completing his military service, he launched his own  documentary film project there on the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement in post-Fukushima Japan, and interned at the Japan Times and numerous NGOs in Tokyo. His documentary “Baton” can be seen on his blog: www.sangwookim.net. Contact him at sangwoo.kim@columbia.edu or on Twitter, @sangy_kim.

Kailyn LambKailyn Lamb, currently a student at Columbia Journalism School, covers food stories from all across New York City. She graduated in 2014 from the Metropolitan State University of Denver where she studied multimedia journalism. At MSU Denver, Kailyn worked for the campus newspaper as an editor and reporter. She interned as a writer at Out Front magazine in Denver, Colorado. Kailyn hopes to start her own magazine publishing company one day.

Zara LockshinZara Lockshin is a lawyer-journalist who swears one day she’ll learn to cook. Before coming to Columbia Journalism School, she practiced law in California and worked on issues related to public health, immigration and civil rights. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Harvard Law School. Zara enjoys covering island beats (Coney Island; Staten Island). Follow her @ZaraLock or email her at Zara.Lockshin@columbia.edu.

Lindsay PurcellLindsay Purcell is a former lawyer and aspiring journalist; she is a graduate of Duke University and Washington University School of Law.  Growing up in St.Louis, Missouri, she enjoyed a steady diet of local specialties, including toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake and ribs. Now the mother of three teenagers, she is always on the hunt for a healthy recipe that everyone will eat.  Follow her at @lindsaypurcell or email her at lnp2114@columbia.edu.

Timmy ShenTimmy Hung-Ming Shen is an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, where he covers education, ethnic communities and food. Previously, he interned at PBS in Taiwan and Radio Moreeni in Finland. Back in his homeland Taiwan, he received a B.A. in journalism from National Chengchi University. He loves to cook Chinese/Taiwanese food and is addicted to hot pot. Follow him on Twitter at @timmyshen0716 or email him at hs2859@columbia.edu.

Sanaz RizlenjaniGrowing up in the Iranian immigrant community of northern California, Sanaz Rizlenjani was drawn to journalism and international reporting, and graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in development studies, with a concentration in the Middle East. She spent a year living in Cairo before entering the M.S. program at Columbia Journalism School, where she focuses on Middle East affairs, human rights, and video production. When she is not looking for sources, you can find her baking coconut macaroons. Contact her at s.rizlenjani@columbia.edu or on Twitter, @sanazrizlenjani.

JoVona TaylorJoVona Taylor is a multimedia journalist interested in covering cultural and social issues. She is currently a graduate student at Columbia Journalism School, covering  Manhattan for NYTable.com.. Born and raised in Chicago, JoVona received her B.A. in English and journalism from the University of Missouri. Follow her on Twitter at @jovona_taylor or email her at jt2480@columbia.edu.

Roxanne WangRoxanne Wang, from Taiwan,  is an M.S. candidate at Columbia University Medical Center majoring in Human Nutrition. Her passion for food has motivated her to pursue a degree in Nutrition and to promote healthier lifestyles. She covers food and culture in Queens for nytable.com. Outside of food, her areas of interest include music, arts, and culture. Follow her @roxylinchunwang or email her at lw2625@cumc.columbia.edu.

Raquel WildesRaquel Wildes is an M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School and received her B.A. in Religion and Business Management at Columbia College. She’s passionate about food culture on a personal level, and issues of food security and sustainable agriculture on a global scale. She loves to cook, but hates to bake. Follow her on twitter @raqwildes or email her at rhw2120@columbia.edu.

Ilgin YorulmazIlgin Yorulmaz, an M.S. student at Columbia Journalism School, is an independent digital journalist working in New York and Istanbul. She likes telling feature stories about human rights, immigration, education, religion, food, art or culture. She founded the digital community newspaper Pukka Living: A Modern Guide to Istanbul; speaks Japanese and loves getting lost in every city’s culinary backstreets. Contact her at iy2161@columbia.edu or on twitter at @ilginyorulmaz.

Cassandra BaslerCassandra Basler covers the collision of food and culture in Brooklyn for nytable.com. She stumbled into food journalism while researching iconic eateries for the first Detroit guidebook to be published in 30 years, “Belle Isle to 8 Mile” (2012). She spent two years at Detroit’s National Public Radio affiliate, where she did her first shoe leather reporting for Mapping the Basics, a digital inventory of grocery stores in Detroit neighborhoods. Now she’s focusing on radio at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on twitter @cassbasler or email her at cab2266@columbia.edu.

Maya Collins

Mayah Collins is a multimedia journalist and M.S. candidate at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is from Rocky Mount, North Carolina and holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Meredith College. Before moving to New York, she worked at The Daily Southerner, a newspaper company, in Tarboro, North Carolina as a general assignment reporter. Follow her on Twitter at @MayahCollins or email her at msc2199.columbia.edu for food stories in her beat area—the Bronx.

Bernd Fischer

Bernd Fischer is an aspiring lifestyle reporter from South Africa working toward his degree at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is covering the Staten Island beat for NYTable. Follow him on twitter at @Bernd_Fischer or email him at b.fischer@columbia.edu.

Alistair GardinerAlistair grew up in the West Country of England before studying film and literature at the University of Warwick. It was here that he had his first foray into journalism, becoming a regular contributor to the university’s newspaper and a seasoned producer at the student union’s radio station. Alistair is currently enrolled at Columbia University’s Journalism School. Outside of food, his areas of interest as a reporter include business and finance, education, and arts/culture.

Devon Henry

Born in Brooklyn and raised in multiple boroughs around the city, Devon Henry is an M.S. candidate at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He holds a B.A. in political science from City College of New York and is an aspiring print journalist. Devon has been able to use the experiences he’s had in the city to write a variety of stories on immigration, accessibility, housing music and now food. He is a classically trained baritone and loves to drink freshly blended juices. Follow him on twitter @thedevonshow or email him at henry.devon@columbia.edu.

Grace Lee

Grace Lee has lived in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Pohang, Winnipeg, Paris and Vancouver, and is now an M.S. student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Her B.A. in international relations and her love for different cultures brought her to food journalism. She has been a production assistant at CTV Morning Live in Vancouver, where she wrote segments for guest chefs and ate leftovers from the show. The borough she’s covering for nytable.com is Manhattan. Follow her on Twitter at @graceehlee or email her at el2752@columbia.edu.

Clemence Michallon

Clemence Michallon is a digital journalist from Paris, France. She has travelled extensively all across the United States and spent a year in London before entering Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In the past she has written about competing falafel restaurants in the historic Jewish neighborhood of Paris and the state of food in French prisons. She covers the Staten Island beat for NYTable. Follow her on Twitter at @Clemence_Mcl or email her at cm3364@columbia.edu.

Sophia Morris

Sophia Morris is an M.S student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Originally from Sydney, Australia, she studied social science and Italian at the University of Technology, Sydney. The Italian helped her eat her weight in pizza, pasta and gelato when she spent a year abroad in Bologna, Italy. She loves trying new foods, and is interested in the intersection of food and social issues. You can email her at ssm2195@columbia.edu and follow her on Twitter @s0phiamorris.

Jordan Muto

Jordan Muto is an aspiring lifestyle journalist with a passion for all things related to food, travel and fashion. Her parents rarely cooked, and staying home for dinner on weekends was hardly an option, so her passion for food started at an early age. Having lived in San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York City, she is always on the hunt to try the next restaurant. Follow her on Instagram @chicfindings and email her at jam2370@columbia.edu.

Ayana Osson

Ayana Osson, 23, was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to Haitian immigrants who assimilated to American life early on. She is an M.S. candidate at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has an adventurous palate for all types of food, but West Indian food will always hold a special place in her heart. She has memories of fighting with her brother over the last piece of griot (Haitian-style fried pork) or spoonful of du riz ak djon djon (black rice), which led her to discover her passion for food. Follow her on Twitter at @ayanaosson or email her at ao2509@columbia.edu.

Natasha Payes

Natasha Payés is a print and digital journalist who writes for NYTable.com. She grew up in San Francisco, California where the cuisine options are limitless. From dim sum to Salvadoran pupusas—she has tried it all. Before coming to Columbia, she worked as an admissions counselor for Mount Holyoke College for three years. Follow her on Twitter at @natashapayes or email her at njp2128@columbia.edu.

Brittany Robins

Brittany Robins worked as a fashion and beauty editor at Bridal Guide Magazine for three years and is now a student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Years after contemplating becoming a chef, she has recently rekindled her love for food by writing about it. She is particularly interested in food-related health issues and, growing up in a household where health was a priority, she enjoys creating healthy alternatives to everyone’s guilty pleasures. Email her at br2440@columbia.edu.

Lisa Spear

Lisa Spear is a multimedia journalist from Miami, Florida. She spent two years as a staff reporter at NorthJersey.com and the Pascack Valley Community Life Newspaper, covering breaking news and politics. She is interested in the intersection between food and public health. Follow her on Twitter @LisaNspear. Email her at lns2131@columbia.edu.


Johanna Barr is a native New Yorker and a senior news editor at The Huffington Post, where she’s worked since 2011. Follow her on Twitter at @JohannaBarr.


Kiley Bense writes about where food and culture meet technology, politics, and health. She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she became interested in food writing as an editor for the student-run food magazine there, Penn Appetit. She is currently an intern at Saveur Magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @kileybense or email her at kbb2121@columbia.edu.


Amanda Burrill holds a B.A. in archaeology from Boston University. As a military officer she deployed to Iraq, then later earned a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu. She worked at The Los Angeles Times’s food section before starting at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Amanda is a Travel Channel website and app host. She is a fitness and clean-eating fanatic and an avid athlete, having completed many marathons and triathlons, including the Ironman. This allows for many steaks and red wine. Follow her on Twitter at @aburrill or email her at ab3884@columbia.edu.

Jenna Dagenhart is an aspiring news broadcaster working towards her M.S. at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Here she has explored the Staten Island beat for NYTable and done a variety of video packages for the Columbia Nightly News. Before moving to New York, she studied media and foreign languages at the University of Virginia. Born and raised just outside of Washington, D.C., Jenna discovered her passion for reporting while interning with the CBS “Evening News” in the network’s D.C. Bureau. Follow her on Twitter at @Jennadags or email her at jd3050@columbia.edu.

Marie-Jose Daoud is a travel, chocolate and music addict. She grew up between Beirut and Paris, lived in Madrid, Dubai and Cusco (Peru), and backpacked around the world. She loves reporting on food and business stories. She’s currently focusing on long-form video at Columbia Journalism School. Follow her on Twitter at @mjdaoud or email her at md3222@columbia.edu.

Amber Jamieson is a digital journalist from Melbourne, Australia. She spent four years as a staff reporter
at Crikey.com, the leading independent political Australian publication, where she covered immigration, food, politics and arts & culture. Follow her on Twitter at @ambiej or email her at arj2125@columbia.edu.

U-Jin Lee grew up in Old Tappan, New Jersey and has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Journalism from The College of New Jersey. She became interested in writing and learning about food after a horrible experience of getting food poisoning when she was 10 years old. During her free time, she like to cook and try different types of food cuisines. Follow her at twitter at @ujeeee or email at ul2117@columbia.edu.

Esha Mahajan, 24, is from New Delhi, India, and is passionate about health, especially its intersection with food. She turned vegetarian (milk and eggs are OK) two years ago, but still enjoys trying new restaurants. Esha’s not an avid chef, but can make excellent banana-quinoa pancakes, breakfast ice cream sundaes, and avocado toasts. Email her at eshamahajan89@gmail.com.

Ellen Park is a graduate student at the Columbia School of Journalism and received her B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley in California. Before moving to New York, she lived in San Francisco where she worked in non-profit media arts and reviewed documentary films for public broadcast. Email her at esp2142@columbia.edu.

Mohammed Shariff’s ardor for food began after watching the 1994 Ang Lee film, Eat Drink Man Woman. The opening scene took his breath away. The images are so powerful he explains. He thinks food is a powerful tool in family and society. His favorite meal is dal bhat (lentils and rice). Follow him on Twitter at @imtyiazshariff or email him at mis2129@columbia.edu.

Alexandra Torrealba, 22, was raised in a Jewish-Venezuelan home, where food was always a reason to come together. From Passover Seders to breakfast arepas, she loves to write, read and learn about food. She believes the reason we fall in love with a dish has less to do with the way it tastes and more about the memories it evokes. Follow her on Twitter at @atorrealba2 or e-mail her at atorrealba91@gmail.com.

Mary Wojcik has been a network news multimedia journalist since 2000, working on both short and long form stories. Since 2001, her work at ABC Network News, NBC Network News, CNN, and other various news outlets has been recognized repeatedly with the highest awards in broadcast journalism. Wojcik’s a 2000 graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and a 2014 Master of Science Candidate at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Email her at mw2633@columbia.edu.