Valerie Erwin is a longtime Philadelphia chef who, for 12 years, owned the critically acclaimed Geechee Girl Rice Cafe. She specializes in the food of the Low Country—the coast of South Carolina and Georgia—where her grandparents were born. During its tenure, Geechee Girl was featured in every major Philadelphia publication including the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Magazine.
Valerie is particularly interested in the intersection of food and culture. She serves on the board of the Southern Foodways Alliance—the country’s premier institution for the study of food and culture. She serves also on the board of Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network, a service and advocacy organization that serves Philadelphia’s homeless families.
Since her restaurant closed in 2014, Valerie has spent her time working on food related projects with cultural institutions such as the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Jazz Project, and working with food justice organizations in Philadelphia.
Valerie is excited to bring her talents, love of food, and passion for community to the EAT Café.
Nia D. Minard
Community Engagement & Communications Coordinator
Nia D. Minard is a West Philadelphia resident and Drexel alum with roots in the Mississippi Delta. She has worked in several capacities in the food industry, ranging from dishwasher to chef and is part of the local Food Justice network of culinary artists, farmers, and food purveyors. Nia’s passion for cooking led her to become an independent caterer and food educator. She has cooked for several community service organizations such as: Sankofa Farms of Bartram’s Garden, the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, and Urban Tree Connection.
In 2017 Nia joined 15 local culinary artists in the Philadelphia Assembled (PHLA) Kitchen exhibit. PHLA was the culmination of a four-year art project that brought together various artists from throughout Philadelphia. The exhibit phase of PHLA took place in the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from September – December. PHLA Kitchen transformed the existing museum café into an immersive dining experience. She helped to facilitate this experience by serving as a storyteller, recipe contributor, and one of the head chefs in the PHLA Kitchen.
In May 2018, Nia joined the EAT Café team as the Community Engagement & Communications Coordinator. She is responsible for coordinating marketing, social media, and events for EAT Café and is excited to ensure that Everyone At the Table is able to dine with dignity.
Center for Hunger-free Communities Deputy Director
Victoria Egan is the Deputy Director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities. She oversees the business administration and operations of all the Center’s work, including the EAT Café. Victoria provides support for café partnership development, fundraising, financial management, human resources and other administration. She has worked for the Center since 2010, and helped to steward the EAT Café from idea to reality. She is excited for the EAT Café to open its doors, bring community together for healthy meals and fellowship, and ultimately expand its scope to meet the community’s vision and needs.