Food Informants is a week-in-the-life series profiling fascinating people in the food world. We hope it will give you a first-hand look at the many different corners of the food industry. Know someone who would make a great Food Informant? Tell us why.
Jay Gilbertson and Ken Seguine produce the first pumpkin seed oil made in the U.S.. With a strong commitment to create jobs in their local community, the long–term vision is for Northwest Wisconsin to become known as where America’s pumpkin seed oil is produced. The oil works as a vinaigrette salad dressing, bread dip, or drizzled on soups, cooked vegetables, popcorn or even ice cream. Jay is an author of the Madeline Island series, and is from Eau Claire, WI. Ken is from Los Angeles. The couple has been together 18 years.
Read more about how Jay and Ken work to grow their small food business.
Monday, July 8
4:30am: Shh…it’s early, Jay is still asleep. I’m too excited, today is our first day being a “Food Informant.” Howdy-do readers! This is going to be a great week, we have some very cool things happening. We’re driving to Minneapolis/St. Paul airport this morning and flying to Milwaukee for the summer meeting of the State of Wisconsin Organic Advisory Council. I’ve been proud to be on the council for the past two years.
8:20am: THE place to eat at MSP for delicious, organic, local food is French Meadow Bakery Café, in the main concourse. French Meadow Bakery was the first certified organic bakery in the nation, visionary owner Lynn Gordon has always been ahead of her time. My Organic Zone Omelet is wonderful, complete with their trademarked Man Bread™ (for manly men, surely).
9:20am: Waiting for the flight, nice to just sit. We busted our butts over the holiday weekend beating back the weeds in the pumpkin field. Here I’m tilling in the background and friend, farm worker, belly dancer and coach Jen Bush, strikes a pose. The weather did not cooperate; it was gross, so hot and humid. Being organic certified really knocks down your options for dealing with weeds. Pretty much all we get is cultivation. We tilled between the rows then with our crew hand hoed between the plants.
3:00pm: Outpost Natural Foods Capitol Drive location. We had set up a demo (sampling) for our pumpkin seed oil. It is fun to meet people, we always sell product for our retailers and get to introduce the American public to this treat. Common in Austria, where they are the world’s largest producers and consumers, we are proud to sell, “America’s first pumpkin seed oil™”. Generally it is most people’s first taste of the rich, nutty and unique flavor.
5:00pm: Store traffic slowing down, we get bored and play our favorite slow-store-demo game. Find the most unusual item in the whole place. Jay wins hands down, powdered peanut butter.
6:30pm: Meet up with friends and Wisconsin Organic Advisory Board Council members Jennifer Casey, her husband Aaron and Inga Witcher and her husband Joe Mauer at La Merenda. Jennifer lives in Milwaukee and has deep connections to the local Slow Food scene, and had recommended the restaurant. Inga is host of the new Wisconsin Public Television series, “Around the Farm Table.” The restaurant is wonderful. Chef owner Peter Sandroni visits the table and shared his passion and commitment to local purveyors and investment in his local community. It’s a tapas restaurant, our favorites — duck confit crepes and ceviche with fried plantains.
Tuesday, July 9
9:45am: We arrive at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute for the summer Wisconsin Organic Advisory Council meeting, Jay is my guest. I serve as the secretary of the council. The WOAC was established in 2006 to make the state #1 in the nation for organic agriculture. Things are going well. In most categories, Wisconsin is a solid second place (some other state, Californiasomething, is first) and in some dairy categories, we win. Today we have a brief meeting, updates on the Farm Bill (affects every American’s diet and the health of the nation) and we send our recommendations on modification of the Food Safety and Modernization Act to harmonize with national organic standards. Big rainstorm so we had to do virtual tours of the Institute and the nearby Krusen Grass Farms, farmers Alfrid and Sue are the experts when it comes to organic, grass-fed beef and dairy.
11:30pm: We make the 1.5 hour drive home from the airport, unpack, attend to the needs of our newly diabetic cat and settle in for some comfort food. Sautéed chard and garlic scapes (the long curvy flower bud and stem) scrambled with eggs.
Wednesday, July 10
8:30am: We catch up on emails and make arrangements for the crew to finish hand hoeing the pumpkins. It had been getting pretty dry here and we are happy to see we had 1.25” of rain yesterday. Farming is always such a crap shoot, sometimes it feels like we are always teetering on the brink of disaster; killing frosts in early June, cucumber beetles out of control, no rain for 3+ weeks. It keeps things interesting. We had a very expert farmer friend, author Atina Diffley, once say our expression of farming was joyous. News to me. Internally I often feel something in between anxiety and nausea. Neither one of us has a farming background so this has been a learn-as-you-go operation.
10:45am: Where is the morning going? We need to eat but really need to shop. Not a quick task for us, we live about 35 miles from the nearest store for our main needs, Menomonie Cooperative Market. Makes it close to two hours to go shopping. At times like this we get creative and have lamb shanks and fiddle head fern fronds for breakfast. We love that all the meat we eat comes from people we know and encourage everybody to find some local producers and buy directly from them. Works best if you have some freezer space but it is the best way to get healthy, humanely raised meat. We had frozen the fern fronds earlier in the spring. They are small green spirals that had yet to unfurl. They taste green, something in between green beans and asparagus. We lightly sauté them in olive oil then freeze and finish cooking before eating.
11:10am: We meet Bob Grundy and Telea Dodge in the field for the last of the hand hoeing. We think about sustainability not only for the land but for the people. Our goal is to create jobs as NW Wisconsin becomes known where America’s pumpkin seed oil comes from. We’ve committed to pay substantially above local agricultural wages and consequently we always have a fun, hard-working team. Bob is a 62 year-old-punk rocker, and a member of the punk back-to-the-land movement (who knew?). You can read his story here. Telea Dodge (known to us and on her Facebook page as “Telea the great”) and her sister Liana are close neighbors and have worked hard for us for years. We employee a bunch of people to plant seeds, then transplant seedlings, a few people to weed a bit during season then a much larger group joins us at harvest in early October.
11:40am: I need a job and am working LinkedIn like a fiend. As with many small farm operations, both Jay and I have what is called “off farm income.” Jay is an author and I’ve worked in what is called the natural products industry in sales and marketing my entire adult life. I’ve been Global Sales Director at Aveda Corporation and for the last 12 years created and launched a line of herbal supplements sold in health food stores and natural grocers such as Whole Foods. I’m looking for a new opportunity and if you were just thinking, “Boy I’d like to hire a talented and hard-working sales executive,” I’m your man.
3:30pm: Call from Mike and Patty, do we want to come over for wood-fired pizzas? Could we bring something for dessert? Wood-fired pizzas, yup, we’ll figure something out. Fortunately for them we’ve already used the lamb and octopus options for dessert, what to do? Jay has an idea, we have some pumpkin seed butter and he’ll make pumpkin seed butter cookies served with ice cream and topped with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil plus a sprinkle of salt. After we harvest, clean and dry the seeds, they go north to Botanic Oil Innovations in Spooner, WI to be cold pressed. After the oil is pressed from the seeds, it sits for 4-6 weeks to let very fine particles of the seeds settle out. What is left on the bottom is the butter.
9:20pm: Pizzas so good, now enjoying our dessert with former state representative, Joe Plough (brought his home-brewed beer), Lavonne, Jay and Mike and Patty who operate Spring Hill Community farm, one of the most successful local CSAs.
Thursday, July 11
9:30am: We need some serious office time. Here’s Jay working on the final edits for his new novel. He’s also reviewing the audio version of his last release, “Full Moon Over Madeline Island.” I just got a call from Mr. Zuckerberg, if I don’t update our pumpkin seed oil Facebook page today they are taking away my rights.
4:00pm: We stop by friend, neighbor, farmer and pumpkin seed grower Kate Stout’s farm. She operates a CSA, North Creek Community Farm, and we are members. We pick up this weeks share of vegetables and inspect the progress on her pumpkins, they look great but we have to ask why she has planted buckwheat between the rows. Kate’s a pro so there’s got to be a good reason.
Friday, July 12
8:00am: We sell our pumpkin seed oil on our website and in natural grocers primarily in the Upper Midwest. For some reason last week was a bumper week for sales. Got a call from our most local retailer, Renee at Bolen Vale Cheese, she’s out of stock (inventory management, Renee!) and has customers coming back later to purchase. We quick prep some bottles. We heat shrink the foil cap and hand apply the labels.
9:00am: Delivery to Bolen Vale Cheese, we pick up some 11-year-old cheddar. Weird to think the it was milk at the beginning of the Bush Administration. We love the stuff, it gets increasingly sharp and forms salt crystals (the cheese, not the administration).
10:00am: Jay is heading to his home town, Eau Claire, WI about an hour from here to see his parents and attend the funeral of a great uncle. I’m staying home, working on the job search, and pumpkin seed paperwork. We got our initial review letter for this year’s organic certification, just a few things to take care of before inspection. The U.S. consumer can have great confidence in the USDA Organic Seal. The annual inspection is an all day affair, they go through everything from the ground up, every little thing is reviewed. I think they actually just want to spend time with you to get your sense and your intentions.
4:00pm: Let’s talk about sex! Pumpkins make male flowers and female flowers. Ever wonder how they could tell and what makes a flower a male anyway? What is male and female in pumpkins, people and parrots is defined by their sex cells. Females always produce large sex cells in small numbers that are a complete organism except they need just a tiny missing bit of DNA. Males produce abundant, small cells (think pollen) that provide the DNA that allows life to begin.
7:00pm: Our very fun and funny friends Carrie Maloney and talented photographer Mark Given, come over to take our picture in the pumpkin field. It has been years since we’ve had a picture together and we need one for the bio at the top of this article. It is always fun with these two, we laugh and laugh.
8:30pm: New Richmond, WI. We drive with Mark and Carrie to treat them to dinner at The Old Saloon. Friday night fish fry is a Wisconsin tradition and nobody does it better than The Old Saloon, light, crisp, perfectly done fish filets. As always, Shannon and owner Jill Miller take great care of us.
Saturday, July 13
6:00am: Up early, today is a big day, we are heading to the Twin Cities and will have a speaking gig at the Mill City Farmers’ Market.
9:30am: We are at Mill City Farmers’ Market and run into Brenda Langdon. She has been important in the Twin Cities organic, vegetarian and locally sourced food scene for decades. We always have a soft spot for Brenda. Our first date 18 years ago was at the former “Brenda’s Café” in downtown Minneapolis. She must have started it as a Girl Scout project, we can’t believe how young she looks.
10:15am: We speak. Wonderful opportunity to share about how we got started, culinary uses, health benefits and our vision for Wisconsin and pumpkin seed oil in America.
11:30am: Hubba, Hubba. Eating out AGAIN, very unusual for us and a big treat. Spoon River, right next to the farmers’ market and the stunning Guthrie Theatre on the banks of the Mississippi river is Brenda Langdon’s newest venture. Very successful, we had to make reservations for brunch. Buttermilk crepe with smoked salmon and skrye (we had to ask, something between sour cream and chevre cheese) and Singapore Noodle Scramble with sambal seasoning. Yup, we had wine with breakfast.
1:10pm: On the way home, we stop in at Seward Coop, for some reason they don’t carry our oil so we drop off a bottle for the packaged goods grocery buyer and make a presentation to the grocery manager.
3:30pm: Yeah! We make it back home in time to meet our dates for the annual Prairie Farm Dairy Day’s Parade. It is just the picture of what a small Midwestern town parade should look like. We are friends with most of the people in the parade. Community is important to us, we were so fortunate to benefit from it when our house burned to the ground a couple of years ago. A complete disaster for us but we were so well supported.
Sunday, July 14
10:00am: Today is the day we check on the bees. Jay is the beekeeper (I ended up being afraid) and things have been tough. Both hives did not survive the winter and only one of the two new hives he acquired this spring survived, then the queen went missing about a month ago. Jay purchased a new queen and today he checks to see the progress. So sad. She’s gone, only a few bees left. This has been a huge problem worldwide and it is really significant. No bees, no food. We depend on them for early pollination services and hope that something else will fill in for that duty.
11:30am: We inspect the stupid pumpkin seed harvester. In the dictionary, right by the word CONTRAPTION, there needs to be a picture of this thing. Custom-made and we’ve had three major re-works, it does harvest the seeds but it is too slow for where we need to go. We are planning on purchasing European made harvesting equipment this year and equipment this year and you can help introduce America to the delicious taste and health benefits of pumpkin seed oil.
12:00pm: Okay, good, something or other is pollinating and here are two recently fertilized fruits. We’ll harvest their seeds in late September.
1:00pm: We console ourselves about the bees with a lunch of Asian-flavored sugar snap peas and toast spread with pumpkin seed butter and drizzled with the last jar of our now very precious 2012 Pumpkin Blossom Honey.
See more Food Informants below:
Izetta Chambers, Alaska Salmon Fisherman
Company founder and managing member Izetta Chambers is the driving force behind Naknek Family Fisheries. She organized the LLC in October 2006 and has been managing it seasonally since that time. Izetta is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 2008. Izetta serves as the MAP Agent/Assistant Professor for the Marine Advisory Program, an extension partnership between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant program.
Izetta lives in Dillingham with her husband, Chet, their children, Noah and Lovina. Izetta (a.k.a. “the fish lady”) has participated in the Bristol Bay fishery since the age of 9 years old, when she began setnet salmon fishing with her brother, Everett Thompson.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/17/food-informants-izetta-chambers_n_3562289.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Izetta’s diary here/a./strong
Dominique Ansel, Cronut Maestro
Dominique Ansel served as the Executive Pastry Chef for Restaurant Daniel under chef Daniel Boulud for six years. During his tenure, the restaurant won its first 3-star Michelin rating, a 4-star New York Times review and James Beard’s Outstanding Restaurant of the Year Award in 2010. In 2013, Chef Ansel received his own James Beard Award nomination as a finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef at his eponymous bakery.
(Pictured is a DKA, not a cronut).
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/food-informants-dominique-ansel-cronut_n_3562955.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Dominique’s diary here/a./strong
Sarah Allman, Pastry Chef At A Diamond Mine
Sarah Allman has been baking in her own kitchen, bakeries and high-end restaurants for the past 12 years. A native of Peterborough, Ontario (an hour outside of Toronto), she developed her passion for baking at a young age, unknowingly apprenticing with her great grandmother at the age of eight.
In February, she left her job at a bakery five kilometers from her home to bake her wares over 3500 km away, at Diavik Diamond Mine, 200 km from the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories. The only thing she loves more than being in the kitchen is being with her four kids, which is why she took the job with the longer commute. She works a two-week rotation at the Diamond Mine, which allow her to spend two work-free weeks with her kids every month. When she worked at the bakery she was starting her day at 7am and on Saturdays — this left only one full day with her kids.
Working at Diavik for Bouwa Whee Catering, she continues to be a mom at home and it extends to her work family at the mine, who love her baked goods and eat more than their share. Her peanut butter brownie cups have become a mine favorite, to the point that workers stock up before they head home.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/02/food-informants-sarah-allman_n_3518272.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Sarah’s diary here/a./strong
Izabela Wojcik, James Beard Director Of House Programming
Izabela A. Wojcik is the Director of House Programming for the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 that is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future. Wojcik oversees more than 250 special events held at the historic James Beard House, which features chefs, pastry chefs and winemakers from across the United States and beyond.
In her role as head of House programming, Wojcik has a rolodex of culinary and beverage professionals from around the world. Part of her responsibility is engaging in constant dialogue with influencers in the epicurean industry, thereby, staying on top of the latest gastronomic trends.
Wojcik frequently appears on panels concerning food and cooking. She holds a B.S. degree from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, New York. Her culinary experience also includes positions at Marriott and Omni Hotels, Tribeca Grill and Osteria del Circo restaurants. A self-taught chef, she is proud to have been selected to cook at the four-star Chanterelle, as well as First in New York. Wojcik resides in Brooklyn with her journalist husband and son.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/food-informants-izabela-wojcik_n_3466547.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Izabela’s diary here/a./strong
Larry Austin, Whole Foods Detroit Store Manager
Larry Austin got his start in the grocery world as a bagger, cashier and stocker at the Detroit chain Farmer Jack’s in 1988. He headed to Ann Arbor soon after and stocked the grocery, dairy and frozen sections at Arbor Farms for a few years before joining Whole Foods Market’s Ann Arbor store as a receiver in 1999. Larry worked his way up from receiver to grocery buyer and eventually Grocery Team Leader, then went on to manage multiple departments in various stores across the Midwest. Now he’s running the show as Store Team Leader — that’s what the people at Whole Foods Market call the store manager — at the company’s highly anticipated Detroit store, which opened June 5. Larry’s at the helm.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/12/food-informant-larry-austin-whole-foods-detroit_n_3385005.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Larry’s diary here/a./strong
Jay Isais, Senior Director Of The Coffee Bean Tea Leaf
Nearly seven million pounds of coffee beans pass under Jay Isais’s eyes and nose each year at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s Research and Distribution facility in Camarillo, CA. Isais oversees the blending and roasting of all of those beans. Isais began his career in the early ’80s with Hillside Coffee. He then held operations management and buying positions at Brother’s Gourmet, Gloria Jean’s, Coffee People Worldwide, and Diedrich Coffee before joining The Coffee Bean Tea Leaf in 2000.
Isais’s primary responsibility day to day is making sure the quality of Coffee Bean Tea Leaf’s coffee is, as he says, “perfect from start to finish.” To accomplish this, he evaluates shipments of green beans, working with Master Roaster Jesse Martinez-Beltran on finding the perfect roasts for each varietal, or blend, and tasting the brewed product. Isais also spends much of his time sourcing coffee from the finest coffee farms around the world, establishing and maintaining one-on-one relationships with coffee growers at the points of origin — a hallmark of the company’s philosophy.
Isais is a founding member of the Roasters’ Guild, is a volunteer instructor for the Specialty Coffee Association of America and a certified judge for the Cup of Excellence® program. He is also a licensed Q grader and an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional. Isais is additionally a judge at cupping competitions around the world, most recently the Hawaii Coffee Association’s cupping competition.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/food-informants-jay-isais-coffee-bean-tea-life_n_3354978.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Jay’s diary here/a./strong
Aaron Franklin, Barbecue Guru
Aaron and his wife Stacy debuted Franklin BBQ in late 2009 on an East Austin parking lot. From the walk-up window of a travel trailer turned brisket stand, patrons quickly noticed the Franklins were selling the best barbecue around. By spring, the line of admirers snaked around the block, and the press followed. In less than two years, the duo could count contributors from The Washington Post, Texas Monthly, and Cooking Channel among a growing chorus hailing Franklin among America’s BBQ elite–mentioned in the breath as Smitty’s, Kreuz’s and other stalwart temples to the holy craft of smoked meat that line the Central Texas brisket belt. In the summer of 2010, Bon Appetit hailed Franklin BBQ as the best in America.
Aaron and Stacy quickly outgrew their trailer, and moved their operation to a brick and mortar location in March of 2011. And despite the new digs and every reasonable effort to increase production, Franklin BBQ’s line is as long as ever, and the restaurant has sold out of brisket every day of its existence.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/29/food-informants-aaron-franklin-barbecue_n_3346669.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Aaron’s diary here/a./strong
Daniel Boulud, Chef
Daniel Boulud, a native of Lyon, France, is today considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities and one of the most revered French chefs in New York, the city he has called home since 1982. Daniel is chef-owner of db Bistro Moderne, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Bar Boulud, Café Boulud, Boulud Sud and Épicerie Boulud. In all his restaurants you’ll find the warm welcome the chef is renowned for, combined with traces of the soulfully satisfying traditional cooking he grew up with on his family’s Rhône Valley farm. Yet Daniel Boulud is best known for New York’s exquisitely refined DANIEL, the three Michelin-star Relais Châteaux restaurant. You’ll also discover the chef’s French-American cooking in Miami and Palm Beach, Florida and internationally in London, Singapore, Beijing, Montréal and Toronto. Boulud is the author of seven cookbooks, the recipient of three James Beard Foundation awards, including Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurateur and was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government, as well as Chef of the Year 2011 by The Culinary Institute of America. He is a generous and energetic supporter of Citymeals-on-Wheels, serving on their board of directors since 2000 and is also co-founder and Chairman of the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/food-informants-daniel-boulud_n_3306825.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Daniel’s diary here/a./strong
Josh Reynolds, President Of World’s Largest Maraschino Cherry Company
Josh Reynolds is the president of Gray Company, home of the CherryMan brand and producer of more than two billion maraschino cherries a year. Although Gray Company started in Oregon in 1908, Josh’s family has been involved since 1982. After graduating from Colby College, Josh worked as a producer and on-air talent for one of Portland’s top radio stations. He returned to the family business in 1996, earned his MBA from the University of Michigan in 2001, and was promoted to president in 2008.
As president, Josh directs sales, marketing, operations strategy and all new product development initiatives. Outside of work and cherries, you’ll find Josh spending time with family, volunteering in the Portland community, staying in shape and playing music. Josh is currently involved with the I Have a Dream Foundation of Oregon, the National Cherry Growers and Industries Foundation, and the Young President’s Organization Oregon Evergreen Chapter. For all his accomplishments in both business and the community, Josh was named one of Portland Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40.” Married with two sons, Josh relishes spending their weekends on Mt. Hood where they ski, hike and relax.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/food-informants-josh-reynolds-cherry_n_3196199.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Josh’s diary here/a./strong
Debi Mazar Gabriele Corcos, Living On $1.50 Per Day
Actress Debi Mazar and her Tuscan-born husband, Gabriele Corcos host “Extra Virgin” on the Cooking Channel. They recently participated in the Live Below The Line Challenge, a campaign that encourages people to think about poverty in new ways. They each had $1.50 per day to spend on food — the U.S. equivalent of the extreme poverty line. As a family of four, their weekly budget was $30 for five days of meals.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/08/food-informants-debi-mazar_n_3209264.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Gabriele Debi’s diary here/a./strong
Paul Tanguay Tad Carducci, Cocktail Consultants
Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci are beverage consultants and partners in Mercadito Hospitality group. In this role, they create and manage the beverage programs at the group’s concepts throughout the country, including Tavernita, Little Market Brasserie and Mercadito in Chicago as well as Mercadito in Miami and New York. Most recently, the Bros. and the Mercadito Hospitality group are currently developing Tippling Hall, a new concept in Chicago’s River North neighborhood that will debut later this summer.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/01/food-informants-tippling-bros_n_3154728.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Paul Tad’s diary here/a./strong
Heather Bailie, Fatted Calf Charcuterie Director of Operations
Heather Bailie discovered a passion for all things meat as a young girl. Inspired by her father and grandfather’s hunting adventures, Bailie learned at an early age that cooking and butchery are about mindful involvement in what you eat. This philosophy followed her throughout her culinary career. After obtaining a degree from the California Culinary Academy in 2006, she worked in Michelin one-star restaurants — Acquerello in San Francisco and Ubuntu in Napa — before changing course to learn butchery and charcuterie full-time. Yearning to get back to her roots, she pursued work with Toponia Miller and Taylor Boetticher at their artisanal charcuterie in Napa, The Fatted Calf.
Working at the Fatted Calf that gave Bailie her foundation for cooking, but also life: work hard, work smart, do your best, never underestimate your abilities, and then work even harder! Bailie quickly moved up the ranks; she was promoted to Kitchen Manager and then Production Manager. In 2012, she was made Director of Operations and Partner. She oversees the Fatted Calf’s two retail stores in Napa and San Francisco and a team of 40 skilled meat enthusiasts company wide. Together the stores produce a variety of handcrafted salumi, sausage, pates, confits and roasts, as well as fresh cuts of pork, lamb, beef and poultry.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/food-informants-heather-bailie-fatter-calf_n_2992356.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Heather’s diary here/a./strong
David Padberg, Executive Chef Of New Restaurant
Raven Rose Chef David Padberg is a veteran of some of Portland, Oregon’s greatest restaurants. Beginning his career as a pastry chef in Kansas City, he quickly moved up the line. In short succession, he trained with James Beard Award winning chefs, at a Swiss chalet, and with Wildwood’s Cory Schreiber, developing his palate and skill with seasonal ingredients. In 2003 Padberg became the opening sous-chef at clarklewis. In 2004 he was hired by Park Kitchen’s Scott Dolich as Executive Chef, where he was known as “One of the great forces that moved Park Kitchen forward.”
Now at the recently-opened Raven Rose, Padberg’s menu reflects both the history of the 1883 Ladd Carriage House as well as the traditions of rustic cuisine — taking inspiration from both early American farmhouse cooking and the culinary traditions of Ireland and the British Isles.
strongRead David’s diary here./strong
Thomas Szymanski, Celebrity Cruises’ Senior Traveling Corporate Executive Chef
“Working as a chef on a ship is unlike anything I’ve experienced on land. I spend time in kitchens all over the world’s oceans, and from the moment you step onboard, it’s rock-and-roll, and I don’t mean the ship moving. I mean it’s crazy fast, so intense sometimes that you can’t even believe the day has passed. And it’s like music, fast and rich and full of life. Music is my thing. I cook with it, I hear it even when it’s not playing, it’s in my head. Food cooked with music stirring the soul is food cooked with extra passion. There’s not much difference between a chef and an orchestra conductor. We’re both artists in what we do, and we both are at the center of many critical pieces, parts and players. When it all works together, it’s pure harmony, from the bottom of the heart.
So how did I get here? I was born in the small town of Konskie, Poland. As a little boy, I spent much time in my mother’s kitchen. I’ll never forget the cheese crepes she made in the mornings, the smell would make sure that I would get out of bed and get right to work. At the age of 15, I discovered my passion for food, when helping on my grandparents’ farm, with butchery. I then moved to Germany to help my sisters with their restaurants. Since then, I’ve worked with many great chefs, and have been trained in French and European techniques. In 20 years as a chef, I’ve learned many styles, including modern approaches such as molecular gastronomy and sous-vide – and here I am. And it’s been a long, road to where I am today, in Hawaii, on Celebrity Century. I can’t even begin to count all the countries I’ve visited in the last 20 years.
A few days ago, I was in South America, in Montevideo, Uruguay, where I left Celebrity Infinity, flew to San Diego, and on to Hawaii, where I boarded Celebrity Century to provide leadership to our hardworking team of cooks.”
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/food-informants-thomas-szymanski_n_2828207.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Thomas’ diary here/a./strong
David Harwell, Loews Concierge
David Harwell joined Loews Miami Beach Hotel four years ago starting out as a Front Desk Agent and then moving to Concierge. He currently belongs to the 100% Club, meaning he has been mentioned by the Corporate Mystery Shopper as someone who has provided outstanding service.
In 2012, David was nominated and awarded the most prestigious honor that could be bestowed to any Loews Team member, The Loews Legend Award. David is not only passionate for his job as a Concierge but he also loves living in Miami Beach where he gets the opportunity to walk his beloved and very spoiled Italian greyhound “Samsom.” Living in the middle of South Beach, David often thinks about things that would create a more lasting good impression on visitors. He believes a more efficient transportation system would make it easier for them to have access to other popular South Florida destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Keys.
David was born and raised in a small town called Luka in Northeast Mississippi. He was raised by his parents and has a close relationship with his older brother and younger sister, and as David tells us, he is “crazy over his niece and nephew,” whom he spoils at every chance he gets.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/food-informants-david-harwell_n_2790295.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read David’s diary here/a./strong
Maile Carpenter, Editor-In-Chief Of Food Network Magazine
Maile Carpenter is the founding editor-in-chief of Food Network Magazine, a joint venture between Hearst Magazines and Food Network. The magazine launched in 2008 and quickly became the best-selling food title on newsstands. Prior to joining Hearst, Carpenter was the executive editor of Every Day with Rachael Ray. She started her career in newspapers, at the Wilmington Morning Star and Raleigh News Observer in North Carolina, followed by Time Inc’s FYI magazine, San Francisco Magazine and Time Out New York.
Carpenter has a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute in New York. She is a two-time James Beard Award nominee and won a Beard Award for magazine feature writing in 2002. She lives in Manhattan with her chef-husband, Wylie Dufresne, and their two daughters.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27/food-informants-maile-carpenter_n_2745020.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Maile’s diary here/a./strong
Harley Morenstein, Epic Meal Time Founder
Harley Morenstein, the host of the #1 online cooking show Epic Meal Time, started his career as a substitute teacher surrounding the metropolitan area of Montreal, Quebec. Harley stumbled upon Epic Meal Time after creating a Fast Food Pizza with his sidekick Muscles Glasses. The buzz from the first episode prompted Harley and his team to dedicate their lives full-time to all things Epic Meal Time. Every Tuesday Harley and the EMT team release a new episode of the show. They have also successfully launched a new cooking competition series called Epic Chef, and have grown an audience of over 3.5 million subscribers to date and counting on YouTube.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/food-informants-epic-meal-time_n_2697765.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Harley’s diary here/a./strong
Kenneth ‘Cat Daddy’ Pogson And Tres Shannon, Voodoo Doughnut Founders
Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon have been friends for awhile. They always wanted to start a business together. Something that would fit into an extraordinary Portland business climate. Something fun, different and one for the ages. After much searching under rocks, tequilas, and Portland’s under belly, they found what they were looking for… doughnuts!!
Cat Daddy with his astute business sense, and Tres with his seemingly endless supply of connections, set forth to conquer Old Town, Portland. After a meeting with some Armenians and drumming masters, they were ready to set up shop in the “crotch” of Portland — Old Town.
Voodoo Doughnut is now coming up on it’s 10th year of business. Cat Daddy loves spending time with his family and is a former roller derby, game show, Portland organic wrestling announcer. Tres hosts Karaoke From Hell every Monday night at Dante’s and is former owner of the famous all ages club, the X-Ray. Both Cat Daddy and Tres Enjoy life to it’s fullest. World Doughnut Domination!
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/food-informants-voodoo-doughnut_n_2580998.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read their diary here./a/strong
Chris Rivard, Ben Jerry’s Flavor Guru
Chris Rivard graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Food Sciences and Dietetics. He spent the first four years of his career working for a local nutrition company focused on providing high quality, functional food products to companies in the weight management industry. Chris then joined Ben Jerry’s RD team, which is made up of five “Flavor Gurus” that are responsible for the product development and the quality problem solving across the business. Chris’s primary focus is on global markets (Australia, Singapore and Japan, among others) as well as new market implementation. But RD is very much a team effort: they all work together on new flavor innovations across all regions.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/food-informants-ben-jerrys-chris-rivard_n_2541809.html?1359578771″ target=”_hplink”Read Chris’s diary here./a/strong
Ashley Palmer, PETA Employee
Ashley Palmer is the online marketing manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Palmer oversees all of PETA’s web projects, including the wildly popular “Sexiest Vegetarian” series of contests, online campaign initiatives, and celebrity features and videos. She got her start as the top coordinator for PETA Living, the lifestyle section of PETA’s award-winning website, where her efforts resulted in a 1,100 percent increase in traffic to the PETA Living blog and accounts for 50 percent of all traffic to PETA.org. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Kevin, and two cat companions, Bo and Henry.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/food-informants-ashley-palmer-peta_n_2495951.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Ashley’s diary here/a./strong
Tink Pinkard, Professional Hunter Fly-Fisher
Tink Pinkard is a professional hunting and fly-fishing guide located in the Texas Hill Country. His focus is to provide hunters the opportunity to hunt and harvest white tail deer, exotic species and feral hogs in a fair chase situation. He strives to not only educate a hunter on the basics of the hunt and harvest, but to promote and educate on the utilization of the complete animal “from nose to tail.” He aims to do the same for his clients on the waters throughout Texas when he guides them fly-fishing.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/food-informants-tink-pinkard_n_2372755.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Tink’s diary here/a./strong
Matthew DuTrumble, Executive Chef Of Zynga
Matthew “Matty” DuTrumble has been the Executive Chef for Zynga — the company that creates online games such as FarmVille and ChefVille — since joining the team in 2009. At Zynga, Matthew leads a team focused on menu development, local product sourcing and cooking multiple meals and snacks. He joined Zynga after serving as a Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu CCA in San Francisco. At Le Cordon Bleu CCA, Matthew focused on a broad range of disciplines, including Kitchen Production, Butchery, Banquets Catering and Contemporary Cuisine. Matthew has appeared on The Food Network’s “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills,” and also ran his own catering company Matty’s Fresh Meals Catering. Additionally, Matthew has served as a Chef at the Harker School, and spent time in the kitchens of The West Deck in Newport, Rhode Island, and Caffe Itri in Cranston, Rhode Island. Matthew studied at Johnson Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he obtained his culinary and business degrees.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/food-informants-matthew-dutrumble-zynga_n_2193463.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Matthew’s diary here/a./strong
Gregory Hall, Cider Maker
Gregory Hall, a craft brewer, is now at the helm of Virtue Brands, the new Chicago-based branch-to-bottle cider venture that uses Midwestern heirloom apples to produce a series of ciders. In his new role as ciderist, Hall hopes to bring craft cider to the level where craft beer is today in America in terms of quality, variety and accessibility to the consumer.
Known for his 20-year tenure as brewmaster at the Goose Island Beer Company, Hall began his brewing career in 1988, the year his father, John Hall, opened the brewery. Greg attended Chicago’s brewing school, the Siebel Institute, graduating in 1989. In 1992, Hall become the brewmaster of Goose Island Beer Company and under his direction, the brewery flourished and expanded its draft and bottle beer lines. Hall stepped down as Brewmaster of Goose Island in May 2011 to pursue cider making. He maintains his ties to Goose Island as a consultant.
Greg Hall is a long-time supporter Chicago food community and many local organizations such as Slow Food Chicago, Chicago’s Green City Market and the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project. He is an avid cyclist and currently resides in Chicago with his two children — Sofie and Henry.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/21/food-informants-gregory-hall-cider_n_2144649.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read more about Greg’s week here./a/strong
Christophe Hille, Restaurant Owner Post-Sandy
Christophe Hille is the founder and co-owner of Northern Spy Food Co. in New York’s East Village. Before opening Northern Spy, Hille was a personal chef to Annie Leibovitz and the executive chef of A16 in San Francisco. He holds an MS in Nutrition Food Studies from New York University.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/food-informants-christophe-hill-northern-spy-sandy_n_2119497.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Christophe’s diary here./a/strong
Steve Smith, Tea Maker
Steve Smith is one of the world’s leading tea makers and entrepreneurs. In 1972, Smith was a young partner in the first natural foods store in Portland. Expanding on these roots — and the joys of tea learned from his grandmother and time spent in Southeast Asia — he and two partners founded the Stash Tea Company. The trio introduced herbal and specialty black teas to retail and food service accounts throughout North America, eventually growing to become one of the largest-selling food service specialty tea brands in the country. When Stash was acquired in 1993 by Yamamotoyama, the oldest tea company in Japan, Smith left to pursue a new vision, which came to be known as Tazo.
Smith is credited in developing over 60 proprietary blends in multiple beverage formats — many of which remain Tazo’s top selling teas today. In January of 1999 Tazo was acquired by Starbucks, and Smith and his team continued to lead the company until January of 2006.
Parting ways with Starbucks and Tazo in 2006, Smith moved to Avignon with his wife, Kim and their 10-year-old son. But after a year, the path of tea called them all back to Portland. He’s now perfecting his new signature line: Steven Smith Teamaker.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/food-informants-steven-smith-tea-maker_n_2065393.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Steve’s diary here./a/strong
Jenny McCoy, Pastry Chef
Jenny McCoy is a New York City-based professional pastry chef turned home baker. She’s the co-founder of Cissé Trading Company, a cookbook author, culinary instructor and authority on all things sweet.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/food-informants-jenny-mccoy-cisse-trading_n_2009096.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Jenny’s diary here./a/strong
Lee Schrager, New York Wine Food Festival Founder
Lee Brian Schrager serves as the Vice President of Corporate Communications National Events at Southern Wine Spirits of America, Inc. He joined the company in 2000 and oversees projects for the company in all 35 states in which it does business. Most noteworthy in Schrager’s resume is his creation of the South Beach Wine Food Festival in 2002 and the Food Network New York City Wine Food Festival in 2008.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/food-informants-lee-schrager_n_1989586.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Lee’s diary here./a/strong
David Venable, QVC Host
David Venable is the host of the popular QVC program “In The Kitchen With David” which airs every Wednesday at 9pm and Sundays at noon. David Venable joined QVC as a program host in 1993 and has since helped establish and build the multimedia retailer’s gourmet food business. Venable also serves as a primary host for other QVC programming.
Prior to joining QVC, Venable was an anchor/reporter for WOAY — TV in Oak Hill, W. Va., and CBS-affiliate WTAJ — TV in Altoona, Pa., where he hosted its weekly public affairs talk show “Action Newsmakers.” He also hosted the Children’s Miracle Network telethon for four years. Venable earned his bachelor’s degree in radio, television and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.
He just released his debut cookbook which has been flying off the shelves.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/david-venable-food-informants_n_1959484.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read David’s diary here./a/strong
Kareem Hajjar, Restaurant Lawyer
Kareem T. Hajjar’s bar and restaurant law practice includes the representation of approximately 400 bars and restaurants located throughout Texas and includes the formation of corporate entities, real estate acquisition and leasing, zoning and other land use and municipal issues, trademark acquisitions, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission permit acquisition, employment agreements, mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations to private offerings of debt and equity securities, venture capital transactions and contract negotiations.
Kareem has served on the Board of Directors of the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, the Advisory Council for the Texas Wine and Food Festival, the Leadership Council for the Ronald McDonald House of Austin, the Board of Directors for FloralBurst, the Membership Committee of the Texas Food and Wine Foundation, and the Bulletproof Committee for the Lone Star of Texas Rodeo.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/food-informants-restaurant-lawyer_n_1933294.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Kareem’s diary here./a/strong
Carolyn Ottenheimer, Kettle Brand Chip’s Chief Flavor Architect
Carolyn Ottenheimer is the Chief Flavor Architect for Kettle Brand Chips in Salem, Oregon. She’s responsible for developing and defining the flavor and quality attributes of all Kettle Brand products — the base snack and the seasoning blends that are applied to the various flavors. She also defines the quality standards of all of the products and ensures that the process facilities have tools with which to monitor chip quality. She confirms that all of the products meet the claims that are being made on the packaging — like “gluten free.” Finally, she checks that production facilities have food safety programs.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/food-informants-carolyn-ottenheimer_n_1911190.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Carolyn’s diary here./a/strong
Emil Grosso, Balducci’s Food Buyer
As Vice President of Business Development for Balducci’s, Emil Grosso is in charge of scouring and searching for the purveyors of quality available across the U.S. and around the world. From farms to fields to forests, he selects foods for Balducci’s markets and catering services — handpicking the best coffee beans, artisan breads and produce.
Now, Emil is also sourcing quality ingredients for Balducci’s Gourmet on the Go Café, the latest Balducci’s food destination in New York City. The Café opened this past March, and it marked the return of Balducci’s gourmet foods to Manhattan and was conceptualized and realized by Emil over the past two years. The new Café, located in the Hearst Tower on the corner of 56th Street and Eighth Avenue, serves an array of foods, made with locally sourced produce from New York City urban farmers and features breads and pastries from the city’s best bakeries. Emil is constantly on the road, meeting new people in the food world and taking a lot of trips to find the best-of-the-best throughout the country to bring back to NYC.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/food-informants-emil-grosso_n_1861861.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Emil’s diary here./a/strong
Eric Brenner, Gluten-Free Chef
Chef Eric Brenner has multiple food allergies in his family and years of experience cooking for food-sensitive restaurant customers. Named the 2008 Top Chef and Chef of the Year by multiple publications in St. Louis for his former restaurant MOXY Contemporary Bistro, he has now brought his culinary style to BOLD Organics, a line of gluten-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, casein-free, whey-free, egg-free, peanut-free and tree nut-free frozen pizzas that contain no GMOs, preservatives, nitrites, nitrates or trans-fats. Working together with 21-year-old company founder Aaron Greenwald, Brenner has created a new line of gluten- and allergen-free products that meet the dietary restrictions of the tens of millions who suffer with food sensitivities.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/05/food-informants-eric-brenner-gluten-free_n_1846865.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Eric’s diary here./a/strong
Rudy Marchesi, Biodynamic Wine Maker
Rudy Marchesi assumed ownership of Montinore Estates in 2006, but has had a hand in the estate since 1992 when he lead the fine wine department of the distribution house of Allied Beverage. In 1998, he began consulting on Montinore’s vineyard management, winemaking and marketing. He became Vice President of Operations in 2001 and President in 2003. Marchesi obtained the Demeter Biodynamic certificate in 2008, which certifies wines based on the strict principles of biodynamic farming. This process involves an organic approach that treats the soil with fermented manure, minerals and herbs.
Zach Zamboni, Anthony Bourdain’s Cinematographer
Zach Zamboni is a cinematographer. Logging more than 10,000 hours of camera work throughout the world, Zach has been awarded two Emmy’s for Non-Fiction Cinematography (2009, 2011), and is nominated for a third. He’s shot more than 70 episodes of the highly successful travel series “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” and “The Layover.” Between shooting documentaries and features, he’s finishing a screenplay about the spooky side of traveling. Follow his adventures on Twitter @zachzamboni. Find him at www.zachzamboni.com.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/15/zach-zamboni-food-informants_n_1765003.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Zach’s diary here./a/strong
Matt Cohen, Food Truck Organizer
Originally from Denver, Matt Cohen moved to Japan and became obsessed with ramen and classic Asian night markets. When he returned to the States, he settled in the Bay Area and founded Tabe, a late-night ramen cart. In 2010, Matt founded a href=”http://offthegridsf.com/” target=”_hplink”Off the Grid/a, a network of street food vendors, effectively bringing much of the feeling of an Asian night market state-side.
He does everything from recruiting and approving new vendors, to dealing with the intricate process of acquiring permits and clearance for the growing number of weekly markets. At the heart of Off the Grid is a genuine love for the concept of bringing people together in a social urban environment and providing fledgling operations a jumping-off place for their endeavors. In a week, Off the Grid works with upwards of 100 small businesses, and with 18 weekly markets and growing, that constructive interaction is only bound to grow.
Matt’s most recent endeavor is The a href=”http://www.sffoodlab.com/” target=”_hplink”SF Food Lab/a, a business launched with two other industry veterans. The Food Lab offers a test kitchen space and dining are for entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop their products and cuisine, with all the tools necessary. That said, quickly approaching Off the Grid’s second anniversary, Matt hasn’t lost his love for street food — you can usually find him at one of his markets every night of the week.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/food-informants-off-the-grid_n_1759442.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Matt’s diary here./a/strong
Adam Keough, Chef Preparing For A James Beard Dinner
Since taking the reins as Executive Chef at Absinthe Brasserie Bar in late 2010, Chef Adam Keough has garnered a three-star review and inclusion in the 2011 and 2012 “Top-100 Bay Area Restaurants” list from the San Francisco Chronicle, a first for the restaurant since opening in 1998. A Boston native and Michael Mina Group vet, Keough has years of fine dining experience in restaurants across the country. He is also a two-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist for national “Rising-Star Chef of the Year,” in 2007 and 2008.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/adam-keough-food-informants_n_1710342.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Adam’s diary here./a/strong
Ashley Archer, Culinary Producer Of ‘The Chew’
Ashley Archer has 10 years of restaurant experience including three years at Prune in New York City. She was a Senior Culinary Producer at Food Network, where she worked on shows including Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, Tyler’s Ultimate, Guy’s Big Bite and more. She was also a food stylist for Emeril Live, Essence of Emeril, Next Food Network Star, Rachael Ray and more. Now, she’s the Culinary Producer at The Chew and the co-editor of the new Chew cookbook, which debuts September 25. Archer lives in Washington Heights with her husband and two-year-old daughter.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/food-informants-the-chew_n_1689537.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants” target=”_hplink”Read Ashley’s diary here./a/strong
Shawn Askinosie, Chocolate Maker On A Trip To Africa
Shawn Askinosie is the founder and chocolate maker of Askinosie Chocolate. Since founding Askinosie Chocolate after working in criminal law for 20 years, Shawn’s social business model has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and numerous other publications. Shawn sells his chocolate throughout the U.S. and exports to stores around the world. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Affairs degree in May 2012 to “recognize his contributions as a community leader, an entrepreneur, a role model and an inspiration to students and others.”
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/food-informants-shawn-askinosie_n_1668658.html?utm_hp_ref=food” target=”_hplink”Read Shawn’s diary here./a/strong
Andrew Zimmern is a James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, teacher and is widely regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s hit series, “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” “Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World,” and his new series, “Bizarre Foods America,” he travels the globe, exploring food in its own terroir. Zimmern is a contributing editor at Food Wine, an award-winning monthly columnist at Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and a senior editor at Delta’s Sky Magazine. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife Rishia, son Noah and several un-eaten pets.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/food-informants-andrew-zimmern_n_1654620.html?utm_hp_ref=food” target=”_hplink”Read Andrew’s diary here./a/strong
Anthony Butler, Soup Kitchen Director
In June of 2005, Anthony Butler took the position as Executive Director at St. John’s Bread and Life. During his tenure there, he has worked to meet the growing need of emergency food in the community, provide those services with the greatest dignity and develop strategies to reduce individuals and families need for emergency food. In June of 2008, Bread and Life moved into a new $8,000,000 state-of-the-art facility; featuring expanded space, a digital choice food pantry, medical offices, a library, a non-denominational chapel, classroom, demonstration kitchen, and proper space to meet the increased demand of Bread and Life’s guest, fully paperless data collection, and swipe card system for hot meals.
Throughout this, Bread and Life has grown to a $3,000,000 annual budget and has served over 500,000 meals annually. As part of Bread and Life’s commitment to providing nutritious food, it has grown its partnership with the sustainable food community. Over the past two years Bread and Life has brought over $200,000 worth of sustainably grown New York State products into the community. It continues to partner with the Brooklyn and New York food community to address the issues of Hunger and poverty.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/food-informants-soup-kitchen_n_1643465.html?utm_hp_ref=food” target=”_hplink”Read Anthony’s diary here./a/strong
Jeni Britton Bauer, Ice Cream Maker
Jeni Britton Bauer has created ice cream for more than 15 years. Drawing from her traditional pastry training and a pantry of exceptional ingredients, the Columbus resident continues to perfect the frozen desserts for which her company, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, is known. Jeni first discovered her love for dessert while working at La Chatelaine bakery in Columbus, Ohio. Her passion for ice cream eventually led to the opening of her first ice cream shop, Scream, in 1996 in Columbus’ North Market. With the help of her business partner and husband Charly, she founded Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in November 2002 in the same market where she operated her first scoop.
Now, Bauer is the owner and creative director of eight elegant scoop shops in central Ohio, one in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and one in Nashville, Tennessee, with individual pints available online and in freezer aisles throughout the United States. Her ice cream has been praised by Time magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today and countless other media outlets throughout the country. In June 2011, Artisan Books published “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.” Now in its sixth printing, The New York Times best-selling cookbook has been dubbed “the homemade-ice cream-making Bible” by The Wall Street Journal, while The Washington Post proclaimed Jeni “an ice cream wizard.” In May 2012, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home won a James Beard Media Award in the “Cookbook: Baking Desserts” category.
When Jeni isn’t developing new flavors, she devotes time to Local Matters (the Columbus-based, fresh-food-for-all non-profit she co-founded), as well as reading, painting at her kitchen table, sewing, drinking wine, cooking and making big messes with her husband and two children at their home in Columbus.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/food-informants-jenis-splendid_n_1616712.html” target=”_hplink”Read Jeni’s diary here./a/strong
Amanda Hesser Merrill Stubbs, Food 52 Founders
Amanda Hesser is an entrepreneur, best-selling author and has been named one of the 50 most influential women in food by Gourmet. As a longtime staffer at the New York Times, Hesser wrote more than 750 stories and was the food editor at the Times Magazine. She has written the award-winning books “Cooking for Mr. Latte” and “The Cook and the Gardener,” and edited the essay collection “Eat, Memory.” Her last book, a Times bestseller and the winner of a James Beard award, is The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Hesser is a trustee of Awesome Food, and is an adviser to the Spence Foundation, Real Time Farms and Fondu.
Merrill Stubbs grew up in New York City and after graduating from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature, she honed her cooking skills at Le Cordon Bleu in London. Later, she interned in the test kitchen at Cook’s Illustrated and was a private chef and cooking instructor. While she was in Boston, she also worked with Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery + Café. Merrill met her Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser when she signed on to help research and test recipes for The Essential New York Times Cookbook. She has written for T Living, Edible Brooklyn and Body+Soul, and she was the food editor at Herb Quarterly. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their 4-month-old daughter.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/food-informants-food52_n_1586150.html?” target=”_hplink”Read Amanda and Merrill’s diary here./a/strong
Emiliano Lee, Cheesemonger
Emiliano Lee comes from a long line of grocers and his passion for cheese dates back to his childhood in Oakland, where he could be found stealing bites of Rouge et Noir brie from the wheel in his father’s desk drawer and spending his allowance at the 6th Avenue Cheese Shop in San Francisco. After working as a cheesemonger throughout the country, Lee is now the Artisan Market Manager for Farmshop in Los Angeles. Since 2009, Lee has served as a judge for the American Cheese Society, affording him the opportunity to taste thousands of cheeses from hundreds of North American producers, and provide them with valuable aesthetic feedback. Additionally, Lee participated in the 2010 Cheesemonger Invitational, served as a panelist at the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference, and most recently was a panel moderator at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/06/food-informants-cheesemonger_n_1567473.html?” target=”_hplink”Read Emiliano’s diary here./a/strong
Melissa Cookston, BBQ Champion
Melissa Cookston is a three-time World Champion BBQ Pitmaster, the only female to have won the prestigious Memphis in May (MIM) World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest. She owns and operates the Memphis Barbecue Company, a restaurant in Horn Lake, Mississippi serving her and her partners’ World Championship BBQ. She is a sought-after expert in the world of grilling and barbecueing. She spends her time competing in BBQ Contests, operating the restaurant, and spreading the gospel of Memphis-style barbecue.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/30/melissa-cookston_n_1545450.html” target=”_hplink”Read Melissa’s diary here./a/strong
Dave Arnold, Culinary Science Expert
Dave Arnold is the Director of Culinary Technology at The International Culinary Center. He began tinkering with restaurant equipment after earning his MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. For an art project that required a 360-degree view of the inside of an oven, he re-fabricated a traditional range with glass walls. After meeting Chef Wylie Dufresne of wd-50, Dave became even more passionate about culinary sciences and focused his inventive skills on professional and home cooking. In 2005 The French Culinary Institute tapped him to head its new Culinary Technology Department. As director, Dave is dedicated to helping chefs achieve their most ambitious goals using new technologies, techniques, and ingredients.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/dave-arnold-food-informants_n_1540743.html?ref=food” target=”_hplink”Read Dave’s diary here./a /strong
Rachel Ayotte And Meredith Vachon, Food Publicists
Meredith Vachon and Rachel Ayotte met in Los Angeles in 2002 when Rachel was hired to join Meredith’s team at a hospitality PR firm. As two Southerners (Rachel is from Arkansas and Meredith is from Texas) new to the City of Angels, they instantly connected over their shared love of good food, big laughs and chilled wine. After leaving the firm to explore separate avenues, one of which led Meredith to Austin, they found themselves at career crossroads with daily discussions about ways they could work together doing what they loved most–spreading the word about great food. a href=”http://www.breadandbutterpr.com/” target=”_hplink”Bread Butter Public Relations/a opened in March 2007 with two clients and two home offices (dining room tables). Today, the company has over 50 clients, offices in Austin, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco (real offices), and a steadily expanding team of employees. The good food, big laughs and chilled wine are now considered everyday perks of the job.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/16/food-publicists_n_1510762.html?” target=”_hplink”Read their full diary here./a/strong
Carrie Megginson, Sustainable Pig Farmer
January 2010 found Dan Earnest and Carrie Megginson moving in to their picturesque farmhouse in the beautiful South Central Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. In the spring, they acquired their first Tamworth cross piglets and began dedicating their time to raising the happiest, pastured, heritage-breed pigs in the region. Their passion for great pork, ethically produced, has been an unbelievable learning experience — as well as a source of pride and joy. And no, neither Carrie nor Dan had farmed before they chose to jump in at the deep end of sustainable agriculture.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/food-informants-pig-farmer_n_1468614.html” target=”_hplink”Read Carrie’s diary here./a/strong
Debra Music, Vice President, Theo Chocolate
Deb Music comes by her role at Theo having been a serious chocolate devotee since a young age. After many years spent juggling various passions and honing her marketing acumen in a variety of roles, Deb took a 3,000 mile leap of faith in 2004 and moved from her home in the northeast clear across the country to Seattle, to help her ex-husband fulfill his dream of building the first organic and fair trade certified chocolate factory in the United States, as chief sales and marketing guru. Seven years later, she continues to ensure that Theo Chocolate is firmly rooted in its commitment to organic, fair trade chocolate while creating a model for sustainable business. Deb lives in Bellevue, Washington with her husband, a Microsoft geek, and her son, a budding musician. She continues to eat chocolate (and kale) every single day.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/food-informants-theo-chocolate_n_1459068.html” target=”_hplink”Read Deb’s diary here./a/strong
Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA
As president of Slow Food USA, Josh Viertel is working to create a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the planet, and good for the people who grow, pick and prepare it – good, clean and fair food. Josh previously co-founded and co-directed the Yale Sustainable Food Project at Yale University. The project transformed the University’s cafeteria to a menu based on sustainable, local foods, built an organic farm on campus, and developed food and agriculture curriculum and programs for undergraduates. Prior to his work at Yale, Josh started Mamabrook Farm, a small organic vegetable farm that provided food to local restaurants and farmers’ markets. Josh graduated from Harvard University with degrees in Philosophy and Literature. In 2010, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Josh is dedicated to building a social movement that can transform our relationship to food and farming. He may be reached via a href=”mailto:Josh@SlowFoodUSA.org” target=”_hplink”email/a or a href=”https://twitter.com/#!/JoshViertel” target=”_hplink”Twitter/a.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/slow-food-president_n_1441797.html?1335565421″ target=”_hplink”Read Josh’s diary here/a./strong
Adam Pearson, Food Stylist
Adam Pearson is a food stylist from Los Angeles. With a variety of editorial and advertising clients, Adam creates the beautiful food seen in catalogs, magazines and cookbooks. He lives with his partner, a food photographer, and their 3 dogs.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/adam-pearson-food-stylist_n_1417478.html” target=”_hplink”Read Adam’s diary here./a/strong
Pam Rich Green, Maple Syrup Producers
Pam and Rich Green are maple sugarmakers and owners of Green’s Sugarhouse in Poultney, Vermont. They make pure Vermont maple syrup and related products, including maple cream spread, maple sugar candies and granulated maple sugar. Rich learned maple sugaring from his grandfather. Pam, on the other hand, married into it, 42 years ago.
stronga href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/maple-syrup-producers_n_1397600.html” target=”_hplink”Read Pam’s diary here./a/strong
a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tavallai/4536294812/sizes/z/in/photostream/” target=”_hplink”Flickr/a