The Writers' Lunch: Food Writing and Telling Heritage Stories Through Food | Mechanics' Institute

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The Writers' Lunch: Food Writing and Telling Heritage Stories Through Food
moderated by Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte

This event will be conducted via Zoom. Register and you will be emailed the Zoom credentials.

Join Mechanics' Institute for a discussion on food writing and telling heritage stories through food with Viola Buitoni, Camper English, and Henry Hsu. This event will be moderated by Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte.

Viola Buitoni, a San Francisco based chef instructor and food writer, was born in Rome and raised in Perugia, Italy. With stories and knowledge from six generations, her recipes cross the best of local agriculture with Italian artisanal foods. Italy by Ingredient is her first cookbook. Viola teaches Italian modern home cooking classes virtually via Milk Street Cooking School in Boston, and in person at 18 Reasons and The Civic Kitchen in San Francisco. In spring and fall, she leads immersive culinary tours through off-the-beaten-path Italy. In 2020 the President of the Italian Republic awarded her the title of Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia for her work to further the culture and business of Italian food. She lives in San Francisco’s Mission District with her husband, son, and tiny dog.

Camper English is a San Francisco-based cocktails and spirits writer and educator named “one of the biggest names in the cocktail world” by Vanity Fair. He has contributed to publications including Popular Science, Saveur, the San Francisco Chronicle, Eater, Whisky Advocate, The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, and many more. He is the author of Doctors and Distillers: The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails, which been described as “every bit as entertaining as it is educational” (Scientific American), “best savored, not shot-gunned, with a drink in hand” (Science), and “a tirelessly researched book on the centuries-long relationship between medicine and booze” (New York Times). His most recent book, The Ice Book: Cool Cubes, Clear Spheres, and Other Chill Cocktail Crafts, has been called "the ultimate guide to clear ice” (InsideHook) and reached the top 50 bestselling books on Amazon. His website is

Henry Hsu is a food storyteller and a passionate ambassador of foods originally from Taiwan. Henry enthusiastically explores his Taiwanese heritage through the lens of food: cooking, teaching, and sharing his journey to identify “What is Taiwanese?” With a Gulf Coast upbringing, Midwestern education and years of living in Latin America, his Taiwan food heritage has been the cornerstone in all phases of his life - from immigration to assimilation to seeking his personal cultural identity. Henry teaches dumpling making classes around the Bay and hosts Taiwanese pop-up dinners. Henry most recently worked at Dumpling Club in the Mission District in SF, and Oakland tofu maker, Hodo Foods, where he inspired many chefs across the country to put tofu on their menu. Henry shared his infectious love for food by leading food tours with Edible Excursions, and volunteered with the Green Gulch Farms for many years at the Ferry Building farmers’ market. Besides dumpling making, Henry's known for his Northern Californian interpretation of the national dish of Taiwan, Beef Noodle Soup. Obsessive in using locally grown, responsibly, and deliciously sourced ingredients, his transcultural food recipes manifest his Taiwanese roots while proudly bridging in all things Bay Area.

Award-winning author and Pushcart Prize nominee Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte is an Oakland multidisciplinary writer whose autobiographical and fictional short story collections, along with her lyrical and stunning poetry, artfully succeed in getting across deeper meanings about the politics of race and economics without breaking out of the narrative.  Her writing has been variously described as “rich in vivid imagery,” “incredible,” and “great contributions to literature.” Her first novel, Betrayal on the Bayou, was published in June 2020 and a poetry collection she has written with her daughter Dr. Angela M. Boutte, titled No Poetry No Peace™, was published in August 2020 and is the namesake of the No Poetry No Peace™ series at the Mechanics Institute of San Francisco. Her in progress novel first chapter, “The Burden Keeper,” was the 2021 fiction category winner for the San Francisco Writers Conference writing contest anthology. An inaugural Oakland Poet Laureate runner-up, she is also a popular, teacher, literary reader, presenter, storyteller, curator, and emcee/host for literary and poetry events. Find out more at

The Writers' Lunch is a casual and virtual brown-bag lunch activity on the 3rd Friday of each month. Look forward to craft discussion, informal presentations on all forms of writing, and excellent conversation.

Join us, share, and learn!

Writers' Groups

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Nico Chen - 415-393-0103
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