Fungus Fair 2020 - Speaker and Chef Bios

Dr. Roo Vandegrift, PhD

Roo finished his PhD in 2016 in Dr. Bitty Roy’s lab at the University of Oregon, with a fair bit of shared advising by Dr. George Carroll. In 2013, he participated in NSF’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) program in Taiwan, where he was able to work with the incomparable Xylariaceae taxonomist Dr. Yu-Ming Ju. Since receiving his doctorate, Roo has been working as a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Oregon’s Biology and the Built Environment Center, studying the interface between fungal ecology and building science. Currently, he is working on a large EPA funded study examining the impacts of home weatherization on the microbial (fungi and bacteria) communities found in household dust, among other things.

Christopher Hobbs

Christopher Hobbs, LAc, AHG, is a fourth-generation internationally renowned herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, author, clinician, botanist, mycologist, and research scientist with over 35 year of experience with herbal medicine.

Dr Hobbs has a doctorate from UC Berkeley in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology, and phytochemistry.  He is also a founding member of the American Herbalist Guild.

Christian Schwarz

Christian Schwarz is a mushroom enthusiast and taxonomist and citizen science advocate from Santa Cruz, the land of milk (caps) and honey (mushrooms). He studied at UCSC, and now spends his time photographing, teaching about, and making scientific collections of macrofungi. He is coauthor of  "Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast", and is slowly building a mycoflora of Santa Cruz County ( Fungi satisfy his curiosity with their seemingly endless forms (from the grotesque to the bizarre to the sublime). He has travelled in search of fungi throughout the United States, as well as central America, Indonesia, and Europe. Besides mushroom taxonomy and mycofloristics, he’s an excitable birder and passionate about citizen science in general.  You can read more about these projects and other topics on his blog:  Notes of a Mycophile (

Alan Rockefeller

Alan Rockefeller is a photographer, computer hacker, biohacker and mushroom identification specialist who currently lives in Oakland, California. In 2001 he began his autonomous studies in the field of mycology, beginning with the collection of fungi in California.   Each year since 2007 he has traveled to Mexico to collect mushrooms, and has now photographed more than 1,000 species of fungi from Mexico.     Based on phylogenetic and microscopic analysis he has identified several species not described in the scientific literature. Alan regularly identifies mushrooms for several fungus fairs in Mexico and the USA in addition to identifying fungi on websites such as Mushroom Observer, Facebook, the Shroomery and iNaturalist.

Justin Pierce

Justin Pierce has grown up in the Santa Cruz County.  He as for nearly 10 served as minister of digital media as well as helping to lead local forays.  He is currently the Prime Minister of the club.   Always having a interest in fungi, Justin is a self taught mushroom cultivator and currently works at Far West Fungi.

Thea Chesney
Thea Chesney is a lifelong Sierra Nevada foothill resident and naturalist. Her childhood interest in local mushrooms, wildlife, and flora has transformed into an unending  devotion to the natural world. She earned her BS in forestry from UC Berkeley while pursuing her passion for fungal taxonomy in the Berkeley mycology labs, and since then has spent her time exploring the California mountains and the organisms that call them home. She currently works for the Forest Service as a biologist on a long term, state-wide meadow monitoring project. She continues to be particularly fascinated by the plants and fungi of the Sierra Nevada and other mountains of California.   She is currently working on a field guide to mushrooms of these understudied regions., opportunity.
Paul Stamets
Paul Stamets, speaker, author, mycologist, medical researcher and entrepreneur, is considered an intellectual and industry leader in fungi: habitat, medicinal use, and production. He lectures extensively to deepen the understanding and respect for the organisms that literally exist under every footstep taken on this path of life. His presentations cover a range of mushroom species and research showing how mushrooms can help the health of people and planet. His central premise is that habitats have immune systems, just like people, and mushrooms are cellular bridges between the two. Our close evolutionary relationship to fungi can be the basis for novel pairings in the microbiome that lead to greater sustainability and immune enhancement. Paul’s philosophy is that “MycoDiversity is BioSecurity.” He sees the ancient Old Growth forests of the Pacific Northwest as a resource of incalculable value, especially in terms of its fungal genome. A dedicated hiker and explorer, his passion is to preserve and protect as many ancestral strains of mushrooms as possible from these pristine woodlands. His research is considered breakthrough by thought leaders for creating a paradigm shift for helping ecosystems worldwide.

Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith has been involved in mycology for many years, looking for and photographing mushrooms on several continents.  His photographs have been featured in many field guides, journals, and magazines, such as National Geographic.  A constant figure in the Bay Area mycology scene, he is an expert in many fungus fairs, and organized forays.

Phil Carpenter

Dr. Phil Carpenter has been a member of the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz (CA) (FFSC) since the club was founded in 1984. He has been very active in the FFSC since joining, acting as President for many years as well as several other offices, including Minister of Science for many years. He is also currently a Regional Trustee for the North American Mushroom Association (NAMA). Phil has conducted mushroom identification classes for FFSC members for over ten years. In addition, he has taught mushroom foraging and identification at the University of California, Santa Cruz for over 25 years; for local park districts; for private resorts; for food events such as the Masters of Food and Wine and the Gourmet Fest in nearby Carmel; and for private parties. He heads up the mushroom identification service provided at the well-known and highly-attended annual Fungus Fair presented by the FFSC. He has been and continues to be a resource of mushroom identification for monthly FFSC meetings and periodic local and long distance forays. Lastly, he provides identification and consulting for mushroom poisonings for hospitals and veterinarians.

Henry Young

Henry moved to Salem, Oregon in 2016 from Santa Cruz. He is active with the Willamette Valley Mushroom Society teaching a mushroom ID class for members and leading forays.

Henry is an amateur mycologist who has collected and studied fungi for over 40 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 Willamette Valley, Santa Cruz and San Francisco Fungus Fairs. His name is on the NAMA call list 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 poisonous mushrooms, ascomycetes and lichens. Henry is also a member of the Cascade Mycological Society, BAMS and NAMA and has attended several national forays.


Chef Chad Hyatt

Chad Hyatt is a classically trained chef that has spent most of the last decade cooking in some of the better restaurants and private clubs around the South Bay and SF Peninsula. He spends his free time hunting for and learning about mushrooms, with a particular interest in exploring underappreciated edible species. He has worked with various mushroom clubs and private classes to give demos, teach, and cook special dinners focused on wild mushrooms. He loves seeking out new techniques and traditional ethnic recipes from all over the world to apply to his local mushrooms, and has earned a reputation for coming up with surprising, delicious new ways to use them. He has spent the last year and a half working on a wild mushroom cookbook, the Mushroom Hunter's Kitchen.

Chef Brad Briske


Chef Brad Briske is back where a lot of good things began. Back home. Running a restaurant called Home. It opened on Main Street in Soquel on Nov. 1.

He commuted along Monterey Bay’s curve for a half decade to evolve his gift for earnest presentations of farmers’ market fare, developing a following by way of handmade pastas, whole fried fish and slow-simmered meats. With Briske at the helm, la Balena and its spin-off, il Grillo in Carmel, became the kind of destinations where guests would see more chefs dining than any other restaurants in the area.

Jeff Emery

Jeff Emery is the proprietor, winemaker, truck driver, barrel washer, paper pusher and just about everything else for Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard.

He stumbled into this occupation as a teenager in 1979 when he came to Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard one day to help bottle through a friend of a friend, and then failed to ever look for a “real job”. Jeff has never written a resumé, never filled out a job application, and never worn a tie. He became the owner of the business when his mentor and winery founder, Ken Burnap, retired in 2004, after a 25 year apprenticeship/collaboration together. Jeff has now seen 38 harvests in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Visit the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard/Quinta Cruz website at