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2017 Fermentation Help Desk Schedule

see bios of each of the experts below

10-11   Kirsten & Christopher Shockey of Ferment Works!

11-12   Koji Hour! with Rich Shih

12-1    Adam Elabd

1-2    Jeremy Kean

2-3    Cheryl Paswater

3-4    Fermented Drinks Hour! with Doug Schmidt & Matthew Dirckx of Boston            Wort Processors



Fermentation Help Desk


At the 2017 Boston Fermentation Festival, we had a dedicated desk staffed by knowledgable & distinguished fermentation enthusiasts & experts where you brought all your burning fermentation-related questions.


Some of the experts we had on-hand throughout the day include the fine folks below. Click on their name to learn about their special skills.






Help Desk Experts' Bios

Kirsten & Christopher Shockey

Kirsten & Christopher Shockey got their start in fermenting foods, first in their home, and then with their farmstead food company (Mellonia Farm), where they created over forty varieties of cultured vegetables and krauts. When they realized their passion was for the process, they chose to focus on teaching the art of fermenting vegetables. Kirsten & Christopher still experiments with new recipes, helping others set up in-house or farmstead “fermentories”, and teach classes at their farm and hosts small farm workshops. Kirsten & Christopher lives on a 40-acre hillside homestead in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon, where they hav cultivated a handmade life for the last 15 years. Their days are a chaotic combination of parenting, day jobs, writing and navigating whatever the climate and the rural lifestyle throws their way.

Rich Shih

If you spend any amount of time looking up koji on the internet, you're likely to run across the name Rich Shih, or "Jean Dough," Shih's nom de cuisine. Shih, a mechanical engineer by day, runs the website OurCookQuest and maintains a robust social media presence, all in the service of spreading the word about a variety of food preparation methods that he views as underappreciated or misunderstood, many of which involve fermentation. (While his current obsession is koji, he has in the past focused on pursuits like making kombucha and kimchi.)

Though he lacks formal training in cooking, Shih has established himself as something of a koji authority, in part because of a seemingly relentless drive to experiment with the mold—creating koji from a range of unusual grains, including emmer and teff—and using it for novel purposes, like dry-aging meats. He's also collaborated with a number of chefs to help demystify koji and its myriad uses, projects that have come about only because he rarely hesitates to reach out to people. "I've never been afraid to ask people questions," Shih says.

Adam Elabd

Adam is an educator in the fields of fermentation, natural healing and nutrition and the author of a full length recipe book on fermentation: Fermenting Food Step-by-Step.  His style and technique are informed by his Egyptian descent, childhood in Saudi Arabia and background as an herbalist. After receiving a B.S. in Environmental Science from U.C. Riverside in 2011 he went on to earn a M.S. in Human Nutrition at the University of Bridgeport, CT in 2016.

Jeremy Kean

Jeremy is the chef and co-owner of Brassica Kitchen in Jamaica Plain and he is an avid fermenter! Learn more about Jeremy here and here.

Cheryl Paswater

Cheryl Paswater is an Certified Fermentationist , Educator, and Health Coach, who after a near-death experience, turned to holistic medicine for help. After radical diet and lifestyle changes, she started teaching on fermentation, old world food preservation, healthy eating, sustainable food, and holistic health. Cheryl runs a popular fermentation project and CSA called Contraband Ferments. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.  

Doug Schmidt

Doug started homebrewing beers and meads in college in 1996 but then took time off to raise a family and build homes. Doug now brews at least 1-2 times a month and has expanded to making cider, kombucha, and kefir. Doug is a Certified Beer Judge (BJCP), Certified Cicerone, and is a longtime member of the Boston Wort Processors. Doug won national-level medals in 2017 at the National Homebrew Competition and the Master Championship of Amateur Brewers for his mixed-culture Berliner Weisse.

Matthew Dirckx

Matthew has been homebrewing beer since 2009, and more recently making mead and cider and experimenting with wood aging and mixed culture fermentation.  Matt won best of show at the 2015 South Shore Brewoff and the 2015 Boston Homebrew Competition with his Lichtenhainer, a sour smoked wheat beer. Matt is a Certified Beer Judge (BJCP) and the organizer of the 2017 and 2018 Boston Homebrew Competitions, and is the current Vice President of the Boston Wort Processors.


Boston Wort Processors

BWP is a homebrew club of over 80 members who meet monthly in the Boston metro area to discuss homebrew styles, brewing techniques and equipment, recipe design, and most importantly, to share our homemade beer and other fermented beverages. We find that by sampling each others' beers and talking with other homebrewers, everyone learns a lot about making great beer, cider, and mead. Along with our monthly meetings we gather for social events like barbecues, brewery tours, and our autumn cider-fest. We organize frequent club projects including an ongoing barrel aging program, collaborative experiments, and biannual bulk grain buys. We are a nationally recognized homebrew club, having placed in the top three scoring clubs in the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) National Homebrew Competition a number of times. Several members are active judges in the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). In addition, Wort members have served on the AHA Board of Advisors, as officers of the BJCP, and have become professional brewers. Many of the great breweries in the Boston area and beyond can trace back to a Wort member, or have one brewing there now. Anyone interested in learning more about homebrewing is welcome to join us at our monthly meetings. Contact us for details.

2016 Fermentation Help Desk Schedule 

click on each person's name to learn more!

10-11   Angela Davis

11-12   Jeffrey Yoskowitz & Jitti Chaithiraphant

12-1    Alex Lewin & Kevin Bonham

1-2    Cheryl Paswater & Derek Dillinger

2-3    Kate Payne & Minnie Luong

3-4    Adam Elabd

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