Speaker & Chef Bios - 2013

MAIN ROOM (Room 3)

David Arora

David Arora is an American mycologist and author. He has written several books and articles, the best known of which are Mushrooms Demystified andAll That the Rain Promises, and More. Most recently he was a major contributor to a special ethnomycological issue of Economic Botany, a journal published by the New York Botanical Garden.

David founded the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair in 1975. His interests range from mushroom harvest and usage around the world to mushroom ecology, taxonomy, cuisine, foraging culture and storytelling. All of these subjects are likely to be touched upon during "The Wheel of Fungi." The Saturday and Sunday presentations have the same title but will not cover the same material. David says of them:"Without giving too much away, I will be giving something away."

Britt Bunyard

Britt Bunyard is the founder, Publisher, and Editor in Chief of the mycology journal Fungi which has the largest circulation of any mycological publication in North America. He also has worked as a full-time Biology professor in Ohio and Wisconsin, teaching a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses in Evolution, Microbiology, Mycology, Invertebrate Zoology, Biochemistry and Environmental Science. The main focus of Britt’s research interests has centered on the coevolution of macrofungi and Diptera, the true flies. Scholarly achievements include publication of scientific papers in 16 different international research journals, two book chapters, one patent, articles in popular science magazines, and one full-length book of travel essays from living in Southeast Asia. Britt has served as Editor-in-Chief of NAMA’s journal McIlvainea and newsletter The Mycophile, and as a Subject Editor for the Entomological Society of America’s journal Annals of the Entomological Society of America. Britt gives several invited lectures in North America and abroad each year and regularly takes part in many mycological events and forays. He is married and has three children, plus assorted livestock roaming around the farm.

Chef Maurice Dissels

Executive Chef Maurice Dissels’ first childhood memory of his grandmother, in the hope of making him a good Cajun cook, is feeding him a taste of her spicy chili sauce. He remembered crying in his high chair. But he is smiling today as he works on the latest stage of his culinary development as the Executive Chef of Birk’s restaurant. An American Grill located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Birk’s has been the leading force in South Bay power dining for over 18 years.

The area’s movers and shakers know that Birk’s well-executed menu of salads, pastas and sandwiches for lunch, as well as, USDA prime steaks, chops and seasonal fresh fish along with Petaluma poultry for dinner features top-notch ingredients served in a lively atmosphere that resonates the vibrancy of life in the valley. Birk’s has a well stocked bar featuring an impressive array of single-malt scotch, microbrews on tap and excellent wines both by the glass and bottle.

Maurice has traveled a long way to reach his current post as the Executive chef of Birk’s. Born in South America, he is a native of British Guyana. He formally studied culinary arts with a strong background in Cajun/Caribbean cuisine and food science.

Christopher Hobbs

Christopher Hobbs, LAc, AHG, is a fourth-generation herbalist and third-generation botanist whose life-long passion for plants was sparked at the age of 5, and then discovered mushrooms at 23. After 40 years of actively teaching and learning about the natural world, he is still ardently listening to what the plants and fungi have to teach.

The author of 25 books on health and herbal medicine, a licensed acupuncturist with more than 15 years of clinical experience, Hobbs is now a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley in the plant sciences, especially evolutionary biology, biochemistry, botany, and ethnobotany.


Chef Cal Stamenov

Cal Stamenov has created an innovative culinary concept for Bernardus Lodge featuring California country cuisine in the main dining room, Marinus at Bernardus Lodge. Wickets the bar and bistro, features bistro-style cuisine in a light and casual setting.

Upon graduating from the California Culinary Academy, Stamenov began his career in 1982 at New York’s famed Four Seasons restaurant. He is steeped in the European tradition of culinary artistry and has spent years in the most demanding kitchens of the world’s most renowned chefs. His stellar credits include working with Alain Ducasse of the three-star Michelin restaurant, Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris, Monaco; Pierre Gagnaire in St. Etienne, France; Masa Koboiashi at Masa’s Restaurant in San Francisco; Jean-Louis Palladin at Restaurant Jean-Louis in Washington D.C.; and Michel Richard at Citrus Restaurant. Stamenov worked as Executive Chef for the Highlands Inn in Carmel, and served as Chef de Cuisine of the highly regarded Domaine Chandon Restaurant in Napa Valley.

Chef Bob Wynn

Growing up on a farm in upstate New York, my job of making mashed potatoes for Sunday dinner began my love for food and tools. Nothing like newly-dug spuds, butter, cream and a Sunbeam Mixmaster to whip them to perfection. As a child, I also enjoyed hunting mushrooms with my aunt. It wasn't until we moved to Santa Cruz in 1985, that I discovered the Promised Land of mushrooms. My wife Doreen, gave me as a birthday present — David Arora's mushroom ID class. We went foraging and came across a lawn-ornament sized Porcini. I knew then, we had come to the right place. Ever since, I have been cooking for club events and the Fungus Fair.



Philip Carpenter

Philip Carpenter has been a mushroom picker (versus "hunter") all of his life, having started picking midwest morels at a very early age. He has been pursuing mycology for over 30 years in California. He has been a member of the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz for the full 25 years since it was founded, and has been an officer in the club for at least 23 of those years.

Except for a class given by David Arora in 1978, his extensive knowledge of mushrooms is self-taught. He has been associated with the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair for over 30 years and has been the chairperson or co-chairperson for nearly 10 years. Phil is often called upon to identify mushrooms for club members and in poisoning cases.

David Rust

David Rust is co-founder of the Bay Area Mycological Society (BAMS!). He has helped organize three All California Club Forays and coordinated the Mycoblitz cooperative science forays at Point Reyes National Seashore. He has given talks at the Point Reyes Fungus Fair, Santa Cruz Fungus Fair, the Cascade Mycological Society, the Colorado Mycological Society, and the Sonoma County Mycological Association.

He has followed research on the devastating forest pathogenPhytophthora ramorum, which causes the disease known as Sudden Oak Death (SOD). He is a member of the California Oak Mortality Task Force. Rust has written for Mushroom The Journal on the discovery and science of SOD.

David is Region 11 Trustee of the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), co-chair of NAMA's Marketing Committee, and is recipient of NAMA's Presidents Award for Outstanding Service for his work on the NAMA website.

Debbie Viess

Debbie Viess, aka "Amanitarita", is a trained biologist, writer and artist who has been seriously obsessed with the study of all things fungi for over fifteen years. She is co-founder of the Bay Area Mycological Society(BAMS!), the newest and most dynamic, science-centric mushroom club in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has written about mushrooms extensively both online and in print, and has lectured about mushrooms to mushroom enthusiasts and the general public across the country. In March, 2008 she produced an extensive, illustrated lecture on California Amanitas for the U.C. Berkeley Natural History Museums for a "Science Cafe."

Viess has taught mushroom classes through the California Academy of Sciences, Albany Adult School, the Audubon Society, UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens and Pt. Reyes Field Seminars. Debbie was most recently published in Manzanita, the journal of the Friends of Regional Parks Botanic Garden. Her lead article, East Bay Amanitas: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, has generated quite a bit of interest.

Henry Young

Henry is an amateur mycologist who has collected and studied fungi for 30 years. He started by taking identification classes with David Arora. He joined the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz in 1986 and has been a board member since 1987. Henry attended the San Francisco State University “Spring Fungi of the Sierra Nevada” course taught by Dr. Dennis Desjardin and several other workshops and classes dealing with various aspects of mycology.

He has been a contributor to mushroom identification for the Santa Cruz and San Francisco Fungus Fairs. His name is on the call list at local hospitals to help identify mushrooms in poisoning cases. In between giving classes at the Fair, he works at the identification table helping to identify mushrooms.

In addition, locally, Young has led several forays at nearby state parks, and with Phil Carpenter he has taken groups of students from UCSC out to hunt during mushroom season. Besides a general interest in all types of fungi Henry has a particular interest in ascomycetes and lichens. Henry is also a member of BAMS and NAMA and has attended several national forays.