Von Diaz

Spring 2020 Lehman Brady Professor

Von Diaz is a writer, documentary producer, and author of Coconuts & Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South (University Press of Florida, 2018). She is the Spring 2020 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill.

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, she explores food, culture, and identity through memoir and multimedia. In addition to her debut culinary memoir, she has contributed recipes and essays to a number of cookbooks and anthologies, including America the Great Cookbook (Weldon Owen, 2017), Feed the Resistance (Chronicle Books, 2017), Women on Food (Abrams Book, October 2019), Tasty Pride (Penguin Random House, Fall 2019), and Rage Baking (Simon & Schuster, February 2020). Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Better Homes & Gardens, NPR,  StoryCorps, The Splendid Table, and the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy

In addition to food journalism, she has also worked for a number of institutions dedicated to storytelling, arts and culture, and social justice. She was a producer at StoryCorps, where she produced radio broadcasts for NPR’s Morning Edition, and contributed dozens of interviews to the organization’s vast oral history archive in the Library of Congress.  Before arriving at StoryCorps, she was the editor of Feet in 2 Worlds, which brings the work of immigrant and ethnic media journalists from communities across the U.S. to public radio and the web. Previously, she was the marketing and communications manager for El Museo del Barrio, a celebrated Puerto Rican and Latino museum and cultural institution in New York City. Most recently, she’s led story research and development for an original documentary film series and podcast at Google. 

Diaz is a frequent public speaker, and in 2015 she gave a TEDx talk titled “Every Dish Has a Story: Mapping My Food History,” which argues that cooking and eating reflect our deepest cultural roots. In addition, she’s taught food writing and audio production workshops at New York University and The New School, among others. 

She received a BA in women’s studies from Agnes Scott College. She went on to receive a dual MA in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies from New York University, where she completed a Tinker Field Research Fellowship to record oral histories of elder LGBTQ communities in Havana, Cuba. 

A photo of Von Diaz