Neftalí Durán was born in Oaxaca, Mexico to a Mixteco family of cooks, healers, and campesinos. He is a a chef, advocate, educator, and organizer, working toward an equitable food system. He is the co-founder of I-Collective, an autonomous group of Indigenous chefs, activists, herbalists, seed, and knowledge keepers, who strives to open a dialogue and create a new narrative that highlights not only historical Indigenous contributions, but also promotes their community's resilience and innovations in gastronomy, agriculture, the arts, and society at large.
Duran’s work is informed by his own experience as an indigenous and formerly undocumented migrant worker and 20 years of experience in the restaurant and food industry as chef, baker, and small business owner. He also educates communities around indigenous culinary traditions, the effects of migration on people and food, and the environment.
He is a Salzburg Global Fellow, and his writing and culinary projects have been featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Smithsonian Museum of Merican History, the Native American Culinary Association, Food52.com, The Cooking Channel, and as a signature pitmaster at the Cook 'n Scribble Longhouse Food Revival series in upstate New York. He has been a featured speaker on The Moth MainStage, Harvard, Smith College, and more. Neftalí's work is grounded in the belief that access to food is a human right.