Amazing food, thoughtful speaker sessions, behind the scenes activities, and great conversation with the fascinating locals and your fellow travelers alike. Here's our itinerary for New Orleans!

Wednesday, May 18

Arrivals, 3pm or earlier

Plan to arrive at the Windsor Court Hotel in advance of 3pm to allow yourself enough time to rest and freshen up before departing for the opening reception.


Departure for Welcome Reception

5pm – 7pm

Welcome Reception

Meet the AFAR team and fellow attendees over drinks and canapés at a private cocktail reception at Preservation Hall, one of the most iconic venues in New Orleans, with a musical performance by Wendell Brunious and the world-famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band.


Home Dinners

Intimate, small-group home dinners take you into the dining rooms of interesting and gracious locals to share an evening of food, stories and new friendships.

Thursday, May 19


Departure for morning session

10:30am – 12pm

Morning Speaker Session

Opening speaker, Richard Campanella, will lead a brilliant and insightful talk about the geography, history and culture of New Orleans, giving great context to this city’s rich and complex history.

12:30pm – 3:30pm

Speaker Session and Luncheon

At the Mid City home of designer and entrepreneur Alexa Pulitzer, this delightful afternoon features a talk about NOLA’s cultural economy, with Jeanne Nathan, Bob Tannen and Jacques Rodrigue.  Live music from David Torkanowsky, the incredible cuisine of celebrity chef John Besh, and a pop-up shop showcasing the work of local artists and designers will make this one garden party you won’t soon forget.

4pm – 6:30pm

Free Time


Departure for evening event

7pm – 10:30pm

The Food and Music of New Orleans

Music is centric to the culture of this great city, and tonight we continue to celebrate it from within the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s spectacular Taylor Library. Feast on New Orleans cuisine and groove to a live musical performances by the Matt Rhody Trio, as well as the high energy Glen David Andrews Band, that will keep your toes tapping all night long. Wear your dancing shoes!

Friday, May 20


Departure for morning session

10:30am – 1pm

Speaker Session and Lunch

At the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, learn the fascinating history of Louisiana cuisine from local food experts and icons. Lolis Elie, Pableaux Johnson, Poppy Tooker and the legendary Mrs. Leah Chase discuss the three distinct regions of Louisiana through the lens of food, with a focus on Gumbo as a microcosm of the culture. Lunch will follow the discussion.

1:30pm – 3:30pm

Afternoon Breakout Activities

Small group breakouts offer more intimate, behind the scenes encounters with fascinating and influential locals. Choose to spend time in conversation with an esteemed preservationist at his Creole cottage; stroll down Bourbon Street with an acclaimed writer and learn about the area’s historic cocktail lounges; visit a non-profit organization that mentors the city’s fatherless boys; or take in an architectural walk through the French Quarter… these are just some of the many exclusive activities we’re putting together. A final list of all breakout sessions will be shared with registered attendees approximately 10 days prior to event date. 

4pm – 6:30pm

Free Time


Depart for evening event

7:30pm – 11pm

Farewell Party

Party in grand New Orleans style at a beautiful private home in the city’s leafy and sublime Garden District. Spectacular performances by the Hot 8 Brass Band and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux kick off the evening, plus a quintessential crawfish boil from award-winning chef Alon Shaya and evening entertainment by the Tom McDermott trio.

* Details subject to change

Featured Locals

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    Richard Campanella

    Richard Campanella has been lauded for his unparalleled knowledge of New Orleans. In fact, he’s the only two-time winner of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award. A geographer with the Tulane School of Architecture and author of over 150 articles and nine critically acclaimed books on the city, Richard is happy to share his insight across all media platforms and was voted New Orleans’ “Most Informative Twitter Account“ in 2014.

    Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano of Tulane University

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    Rien Fertel

    Rien Fertel is a Louisiana-born and -based writer, historian, and teacher, who grew up washing dishes and bussing tables in his family’s chain of restaurants. He’s the author of two books, Imagining the Creole City, a literary history of New Orleans, and The One True Barbecue, a travelogue/personal reflection on race, labor, and foodways in the Deep South (coming soon). Rien’s work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Southern Living, and dozens of other print and online publications.

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    Matt Sakakeeny

    Matt Sakakeeny is well versed in music, race, and power in New Orleans and brings an anthropological perspective to sound studies. As Associate Professor of Music at Tulane University and board member and proud supporter of Roots of Music, Matt strives to extend his musical expertise to the city’s youth through education and mentorship. Matt is also a community activist, the author of numerous articles and the book Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans, and the bandleader and guitarist of Los Po-Boy-Citos.

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    Lolis Eric Elie

    Lolis Eric Elie is a New Orleans native who chronicles the food, history, and culture of the city. A former columnist for The Times-Picayune, Lolis has written for the HBO series Treme and published two books, Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country and Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans. The PBS documentary he co-produced with Dawn Logsdon, Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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    Poppy Tooker

    Poppy Tooker is passionate about food and the people who bring it to the table. A celebrated culinary teacher (Food & Wine praised her “fascinating culinary wisdom”) and award-winning author (New Orleans Magazine named The Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook “Cookbook of the Year”), Poppy somehow finds time to host a weekly NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! Poppy has also been instrumental in reviving endangered foods and food traditions in NOLA and is celebrated for her work reviving restaurants and food providers following Hurricane Katrina.

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    Pableaux Johnson

    Pableaux Johnson is a New Orleans-based photographer, jounalist and author of three books on Louisiana food culture. His writing and photographic work appears regularly in the New York Times and Garden & Gun. He has pronounced weaknesses for fine bourbon whiskey, funky sousaphones, raw oysters, coconut cream pie, and talking dog jokes. He believes a properly made milk punch can be an iconic holiday tipple, an appropriate liquid dessert or big-batch summertime slush. Johnson is currently touring the US with his food/travel project the Red Beans Road Show.

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    Wayne Curtis

    Wayne Curtis is a contributing editor at The Atlantic magazine and a freelance journalist. He’s written about travel, architecture, and cocktail culture for various publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, AFAR, and Saveur, to name a few. He’s the author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails, and The Last Great Walk, about an elderly man’s New York to San Francisco walk in 1909, and why it matters today. He lives in New Orleans and Grand Lake Stream, Maine.

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    Liz Williams

    Liz Williams was born and raised in the kind of family (Sicilian) and city (New Orleans) that have a deep-rooted respect for food. This passion inspired her to create the National Food & Beverage Foundation, documenting and celebrating food and drink across cultures. Utilizing this knowledge, and her law degree, Liz has studied the legal and policy issues related to food and foodways, published several books and articles, served as a judge in cooking competitions, and consulted internationally on the food of New Orleans.

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    Alexa Pulitzer

    Alexa Pulitzer is highly sought out for her custom stationery and private label collections, inspired by native New Orleans culture. For over 20 years, her company has manufactured its products in the U.S. and has become one of New Orleans’ proudest exports. Always seeking to give back, Alexa currently serves as a goodwill ambassador to the city and offered her services, pro bono, to rebrand the Office of Recovery & Development. Most recently, she was asked to design a logo for the New Orleans 300th Anniversary celebration in 2018.

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    Sonny Lee III

    Bivian (Sonny) Lee III is the Founder/President of Son of a Saint, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of fatherless young males through mentorship, emotional support, constructive experiences and positive peer-to-peer relationships. Son of the late New Orleans Saints defensive back Bivian Lee, Sonny is the former chief aide to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and the recipient of numerous awards for his non-profit work.

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    Mark C. Romig

    Mark C. Romig is the President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC), the city’s official leisure travel promotion agency, and the President and CEO of the 2018 NOLA Foundation, the support arm for the city’s 2018 Tricentennial Commission. Always striving to give back to his hometown, Mark is also involved in numerous charitable endeavors, including the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and the Fore!Kids Foundation, to name a few. You may even recognize Mark’s voice—he’s currently the stadium announcer for the New Orleans Saints.

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    Jacques Rodrigue

    Jacques Rodrigue publicly advocates for an arts-integrated education system as Executive Director of George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, which was started by his late father, the notable Louisiana artist. In addition to overseeing the Foundation's Annual Scholarship Art Contest for Louisiana high schools students, Jacques directs the Louisiana A+ Schools program, which trains teachers to use arts in every classroom and every subject. Jacques is a member of the Louisiana State Arts Council and the recipient of numerous arts education awards.

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    John Besh

    John Besh is an acclaimed chef and New Orleans native dedicated to preserving the city’s culinary heritage. In addition to creating mouth-watering dishes for his twelve successful restaurants, John hosts two national public television cooking shows, based on his award-winning cookbooks, and has also appeared on the Sundance Channel “Iconoclast” series alongside jazz musician Wynton Marsalis. In an effort to give back to his hometown, John started The John Besh Foundation, which awards culinary scholarships to aspiring New Orleans chefs and microloans for local farmers.

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    Sallie Ann Glassman

    Sallie Ann Glassman is a recognized Manbo Asogwe, or Priestess of Vodou, and is one of few Americans ordained via the traditional Haitian initiation. Dedicated to spreading the life-affirming practices of her religion, Sallie Ann has published numerous books, founded The New Orleans Hope and Heritage Project, started a non-profit organization, and opened Island of Salvation Botanica, a store and gallery specializing in Vodou supplies and artwork. Sallie Ann’s work has received international media coverage, with appearances on CNN, CBS News, and The Discovery Channel.

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    Chuck Perkins

    Chuck Perkins is a well-known poet, radio talk show host, club owner, and bandleader. His work appears in the best selling poetry anthology The Spoken Word Revolution and he narrated the award winning Louisiana Public Broadcast Documentary Changing the Tides. When Chuck isn’t overseeing Café Istanbul, the performance hall he co-owns, he’s making appearances at notable events, including the New Orleans Tennessee Williams Festival, The Liverpool Blue Coat Festival, and The Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

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    Thomas Czekanski

    Thomas Czekanski is the Senior Curator and Restorations Manager of the National WWII Museum, the top-rated tourist destination in New Orleans, which tells the story of why the war was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Over the last 15 years, Tom has supervised the growth of the museum’s collections and is particularly fond of the armored vehicle collection, which he operates on a regular basis.

    Photo by Jeff Johnston

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    Priscilla Lawrence

    Priscilla Lawrence is revered for her passion for the region’s art, history and culture. Her work at The Historic New Orleans Collection—where she has served as its executive director since 2000—has enriched the community’s access to its past through critically acclaimed exhibitions and publications, extensive acquisitions, and meticulous preservation and conservation efforts. She has been recognized for her achievements with numerous awards, including the Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

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    Wendell Brunious

    Wendell Brunious is a legendary jazzman with deep roots in the Seventh Ward’s close-knit Creole community. His 40-year career has taken him around the world and includes time on the road with Gladys Knight & the Pips. Wendell fronted the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for 23 years and still performs at its namesake French Quarter venue. Today, Wendell teaches the blues to students at the University of New Orleans’ acclaimed jazz studies program.

    Photo by James Demaria

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    Gene Cizek

    Gene Cizek is an architect, preservationist, mentor, and community leader, and his passion and knowledge have been fundamental to the conservation of New Orleans’ built environment and cultural heritage. A founder or board member of numerous improvement associations, Gene has received countless honors, including awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Louisiana Preservation Alliance, and Louisiana Landmarks Society. Now a Professor Emeritus at the Tulane School of Architecture, Gene focuses on new construction in historic settings, urban design, preservation planning, and environmental social psychology.

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    Leah Chase

    Leah Chase is considered the “Queen of Creole Cuisine” and was recently awarded the James Beard Foundation’s lifetime-achievement award—the first African-American to receive the honor. Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Jesse Jackson, President Obama, and countless others have visited Leah at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, one of the best-known and most culturally significant restaurants in New Orleans. Now ninety-three, Leah still serves as Executive Chef and can often be found in the kitchen.

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    Robert Tannen

    Robert Tannen is an artist, economic and urban development and design specialist, and community organizer whose 60-year career has resulted in more than $3 million of investments in the lower Mississippi Valley and the Gulf Coast. Initiatives Robert has led include the creation of a citywide neighborhoods districts plan, the creation of riverfront and downtown festival and retail projects, and a riverfront streetcar system. His artwork continues to reflect his civic, urban, and environmental concerns.

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    Alon Shaya

    Alon Shaya, executive chef and partner of Domenica and its casual spin-off, Pizza Domenica, recently opened his namesake Israeli restaurant Shaya, which has already made its mark on the culinary scene. Honored with the 2016 James Beard Award for the country’s Best New Restaurant, Shaya pays homage to Alon’s Israeli heritage using local New Orleans ingredients. Alon has also been named one of the “50 people changing the South” by Southern Living Magazine.

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    Jeanne Nathan

    Jeanne Nathan is Executive Director of the Creative Alliance of New Orleans, a non-profit organization representing artists, designers, and producers. Understanding the creative industries are important for economic growth, Jeanne established the Mayor’s Office of Tourism, Arts and Entertainment in New Orleans, and co- founded the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans with Robert Tannen, producing cultural events that have helped build the warehouse arts district.

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    James Carville & Mary Matalin

    James “The Ragin’ Cajun” Carville is a political consultant best known for steering overlooked campaigns to unexpected landslide victories. His most prominent victory, the 1992 win for the presidency by William Jefferson Clinton, cemented his status as a major political player. Now a best-selling author, actor, talk show host, and public speaker, James, alongside wife Mary Matalin, is an advocate for the city of New Orleans.

    Mary Matalin has worked in politics for three decades, most recently serving as assistant to George W. Bush and counselor to Vice President Cheney, and has been an outspoken conservative voice on radio and television. In addition to her careers in politics, television and radio, Mary is also an acclaimed author. Mary, alongside husband James Carville, is now an advocate for the city of New Orleans.


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    New Orleans. Follow Your NOLA

    There’s no place in the world quite like New Orleans.

    You can feel it the moment you step foot in Jackson Square. Or take a stroll down a tree-lined street in the Garden District. Or taste your first bite of seafood gumbo.

    Named a top travel destination by The New York Times, there are endless things to discover in New Orleans.

    Whatever your passion, NOLA has it all—a thriving music and arts scene, a rich and storied history and things to see and do every day of the week. So whether you are new to the city or ready for another visit, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this one-of-a-kind, Southern city.

    Everyone's NOLA is different. Start exploring: here.

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    The Windsor Court Hotel

    Southern charm meets classic English-style décor at this premier New Orleans hideaway just steps from the historic French Quarter and booming Warehouse/Arts District.  With 80% suite accommodations, Windsor Court also features a rooftop pool, boutique spa, museum-quality art collection, an award-winning restaurant, and two cocktail lounges. Exclusive Club Level floors available with access to the Club Lounge featuring daily food presentations and private Concierge.