Berkeleyside Idea Makers: Fungi, Foraging and the Promise of Plant-based Meats

Presented by Berkeleyside in partnership with BAMPFA

BAMPFA is delighted to continue our partnership with Berkeleyside on the Idea Makers series, which celebrates Berkeley’s stature in the world of ideas through unscripted, informative, and thought-provoking conversations.

Join us for an immersive, lively conversation on plant-based meats, foraging adventures, and the captivating world of fungi.

First, Tovin Lapan, Editor of East Bay Nosh, will dive into the landscape of alternative meats. Berkeley is a hub for companies cooking up innovative products to take the place of meat, but a sharp cut in funding, along with consumers becoming more selective in their food choices, has prompted some fall-out in an increasingly crowded field.

Our guests are Ricardo San Martin, Director of the Alt: Meat Lab at UC Berkeley's Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, and Beth Zotter, CEO of Umaro Foods, a company unlocking the potential of seaweed to make “bacon” and other products. Together, we will explore the potential of plant-based proteins as sustainable alternatives to meat, and look at what’s needed to ensure the sector’s sustainability.

Next we’ll turn to all things mushrooms. Darwin BondGraham, fungi fan and Senior News Editor at The Oaklandside, will be in conversation with Alan Rockefeller, a distinguished mycologist and mushroom photographer, and Carrie Staller, a local mushroom forager and educator. Delve into the rich culture of mushrooms, from their ecological significance to the art of foraging and cooking these culinary treasures. Don’t miss this evening of discovery, as we explore the diversity, sustainability and deliciousness of food and fungi in the East Bay and beyond.

About the Speakers

Beth Zotter is the cofounder and CEO of Umaro Foods, a company unlocking the potential of ocean farmed seaweeds to be the planet’s most abundant and sustainable source of protein. Umaro’s first product is a plant-based bacon with a patented formula for bacon fat. Before moving into alternative protein, Beth worked in energy. She led a $6M R&D project to demonstrate offshore seaweed farming technology in the Atlantic Ocean. Her team won the prestigious Top 60 Finalist in the Carbon Removal XPRIZE. Beth started her career at a seaweed biofuels venture, and has science and policy degrees from Harvard University and UC Berkeley.

Ricardo San Martin PhD is the director and co-founder of the Alt: Meat Lab at UC Berkeley’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. He is an inventor and entrepreneur in chemical and biological sciences, as well as a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation. He is the founding director of the Master of Design program at Universidad Catolica de Chile, and has the entrepreneurial skill to set up new companies based on fundamental research (such as the development of vaccine adjuvants for COVID vaccines). San Martin is also the innovation director of Desert King International. He received his PhD in biotechnology from Imperial College London, and his master of science in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley.

Carrie Staller is a passionate wild food educator and the founder of Fork in the Path. Fork In The Path offers guided wild mushroom & plant foraging experiences in California for the adventurous of all ages. Carrie grew up with typical American mycophobia, as in, "don't touch that, it might kill you!" Now she is passionate about creating a relationship between people and wild seasonal food, something she sees as a birthright and a fundamental part of being human. Learning to forage and cook with wild food can be intimidating, but Carrie loves collaborating with a team of experts to make forest to table experiences accessible and fun. She has led hundreds of people through the forest for their first transformational experience of finding and eating wild food! Her next program starts in May and is focused on morels.

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.

Event Accessibility

If you have any questions about accessibility or require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact us at or call us at (510) 642-1412 (during open hours) with as much advance notice as possible. More information on accessibility services.