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.
Dorothy Neagle and Taylor Cocalis met while attending Cornell University in 2004, and immediately bonded over food -- namely, ice cream cones. While Taylor's studies eventually took her to Italy for a Master's degree in Food Culture, and Dorothy's work as an interior designer led her to New York City, they stayed in touch and eventually became neighbors in New York once again. Taylor was running the classroom at Murray's Cheese shop with unbridled enthusiasm when Dorothy discovered that her passion for environmentalism was stirring up an interest in food and agriculture. It didn't take long for the two of them to brainstorm an idea that would satisfy their interests in sustainability, food culture, and making a difference in other people's livelihoods. Good Food Jobs launched in October 2010. As of January 2012 the site has amassed over 16,000 registered followers and posted over 3,000 jobs.
Read Taylor and Dorothy's diary below to learn about how to run a small and growing food business, and hear details about what happened at TEDx Manhattan.
Monday, January 16
Dorothy (Brooklyn, NY), 7:00am: I wake to the cry of my 8 month old daughter -- a human alarm clock, much more reliable than any electronic one. It's two hours until her first nap of the day, and I don't have a moment to look at the computer. My priority is to brush my teeth.
Taylor (Greensboro, VT), 7:00am: I wake at sunrise. Make tea (hot water with honey and lemon), French press coffee for the household, stoke fire, feed bread starter and put stock pot on stove chock full of chicken, goose and pork bones. Was away last week, so today will be heavy admin/catch-up day. How many emails can one amass when they're away? Hundreds.
- Check in with Heidi Krantz from VT Small Business Development Center/The Center for an Agricultural Economy. She's hosting a social networking seminar for food producers on Thursday night at the newly opened Vermont Food Venture Center, and I am teaching it.
- Kirsty from Sickles Market (in NJ) wants to set up a phone date on Thursday to talk about me helping/hosting a VT cheesemaker tour in September 2012.
- Jonathan asks us to submit a RFP for a workshop at the Brooklyn Food Conference in May 2012. Right. Forgot to do that last week. Thankfully they extended the deadline from January 15 to one month later.
Taylor, 11:00am: Just got the contact list for TEDxManhattan. Scanning to tag folks I want to meet/see at the conference. Also heard from the Kitchen Manager at Del Posto, who agreed to be profiled on our gastrognomes blog. I'm sending her a follow-up with all of the details.
11:30am: Drafting up this week's Tuesday newsletter, complete with our weekly blog feature, new jobs and up-to-date info.
Dorothy, 1:05pm: Mae's nap schedule is a mess today, for Reasons I Can't Explain, and I resign myself to the fact that my work day is over. And then...A Miracle Happens: she falls asleep for a Third Nap. I trade emails with Taylor and submit a few more changes to the web producers so that the Fair pages will be ready for public view when the newsletter announces their arrival to fifteen thousand people tomorrow.
Taylor, 2:50pm: Approve two new jobs that just came in: one in San Francisco, another in Rwanda.
Dorothy, 7:00pm: Bedtime for Mae. Dinner for my husband and I. As usual, I'm checking my email sporadically throughout the night, but I manage to have some down time in between. We fall asleep on the couch at 9pm. Another sexy night as new parents.
Tuesday, January 17
Dorothy, 6:30am: The alarm clocks goes off a little early. My mother-in-law had to cancel her visit today, so that means that work is taking a backseat to Mae time. When I'm home with her, I try to limit my work to her nap times, for fear that she will grow up with the memory of only the top half of my face, visible above my laptop screen.
Taylor, 8:04am: Plow through emails. In particular, getting back to someone who quit her corporate banking job and enrolled in culinary school, paving her way in this new field. Also writing some folks at Sterling College regarding our second Vermont's Table food systems summer program (I taught the first Food Entrepreneurism class last summer). Preparations under way for this summer's version.
Taylor, 8:38am: New job post for an Apprentice Artisan Ice Cream Maker. Is it wrong that I always want to apply to them myself? Would that be a conflict of interest?
Dorothy, 9:50am: Check my email and find Taylor online, weighing the option to send out the newsletter even though the web producers haven't finished all of our changes yet. Send it? Or pester the web producers? We decide to send it AND pester the web producers.
Taylor, 1:09pm: Onslaught of emails in response to the newsletter/Good Food Jobs Fair announcement. Can't keep up. Also just got an awesome email from a former job seeker that read: "In December, a job was posted for an apprenticeship at the Center for Community Empowerment in Jasper, IN. I applied, with no expectation whatsoever of getting it, and last night I gleefully accepted the position. This would not have been possible without your website. You have brought my goals of food and community fully together at last and I am eternally grateful for your services." That feels good.
1:10pm: The first application to participate in our Good Food Jobs Fair from comes in: from Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. It's a good omen.
Wednesday, January 18
Taylor, 7:00am: Out the door! Beauty of your own business? You make the schedule. I make mine to allow for a weekly coffee date with a dear friend and unofficial GFJ advisor in Stowe.
Dorothy, 10:15am: Settled in at the cafe, which has been overtaken by a group of photography students. My agenda: distilling pages of notes that I took after interviewing employees of the New Amsterdam Market, which Taylor and I have a history of consulting with for HR-related matters since Taylor formed a relationship with the Market President, Robert LaValva, oh-so-many years ago. This time around, we're offering advice on how to ensure that the Market flourishes in its next season, and beyond, based on feedback that we gathered from current employees. Taylor and I will soon put our heads together before we sit down with Robert to deliver some recommendations on Sunday. This is the kind of work I love: working with other people, for a company I believe in, to come up with solutions that will help those people and that company have a happier, longer lifespan.
Taylor, 11:54am: Twitter check. Holy crap. Yesterday was active. Lots of buzz around the Good Food Jobs Fair. People requesting from all across the country that we make it a local event. Shall we take it on the road? Must get creative. Also had a GFJ success story submitted in under 140 characters. People are clever. Love it.
12:04pm: Email onslaught. Web testing for new LIVE CHAT feature. Dorothy approved 6 new jobs this morning, and there's a new one waiting.
2:22pm: Okay, spending the rest of the day working on the social media seminar for tomorrow. Must finishing putting together 10 page handout.
Dorothy, 7:37pm: I managed to assemble this for dinner. Love it when the day's biggest achievements are in the kitchen.
Thursday, January 19
Dorothy, 7:16am: A day without a sitter is a day to release into the wild. I have to shrug off the weight of professional productivity, get down to eye level with Mae (which is approximately 2" above the floor -- very humbling) and try not to wonder what time it is.
9:15am: My husband, who is dallying on his way to the office, steals my power cord to download music onto this iPod for the subway ride. Meanwhile, Mae wakes up early from her nap, and I am officially not checking my email again for at least another 3 hours.
Taylor, 9:22am: Confirm details for presentation tonight. Shoot! Don't have a Mac projector adapter. Good luck trying to find it in northeast VT.
10:04am: Quick jaunt to visit local artist Jennifer Ranz to buy some of her beautiful pottery for a thank you gift. By the end of our conversation, we also decide to barter social media lessons for gardening lessons. A productive visit, for sure. Welcome to the Northeast Kingdom.
Taylor: 12:24pm: Score! Joel Salatin and Dan Barber speaking at the 92nd Street Y in NYC on Monday. Perfect timing, as I'll be in the city. Snatched up two tickets for Dor and I.
Dorothy, 2:49 pm: I review the notes that Taylor and I put together after our web producer posted the first round of work on our new Live Chat feature, which will allow people to conduct an online interview with their favorite food professionals (in their pajamas!) After I write up all the notes, I take screen shots to illustrate to the tech what we are seeing, from a variety of browsers that we test on. Then I log into their client interface and submit all the info for revisions, which should come back next week.
Taylor, 5:14pm: Arrive to the Vermont Food Venture Center. Participants trickle in, including owners of baked kale chip company, Vermont Peanut Brittle, Jo and Ben from Snug Valley Farm, and Sumptuous Syrups. Ed brings in some peanut brittle. Best peanut brittle of my life. So happy. Class flies by far too quickly. Clearly there's a need for at least 3 more sessions on the subject.
Friday, January 20
Taylor, 7:15am: Friday is babysitting day. Watch the daughter of the cheesemakers down the road (from Jasper Hill Farm) and get some much needed time away from staring at my computer. Check in to approve 3 new jobs and look for any urgent emails.
Dorothy, 11:05am: It's one of those great, frigid, glaringly sunny winter days. Mae and I take a walk to a neighbor's house to hang out with some other moms and babies. Topics of discussion include getting into pre-kindergarten (impossible), working from home (entirely possible with the right balance of babysitting) and how to satisfy our breastfeeding appetites (near impossible). I eat my third breakfast while we chat. When is lunch?.
Taylor, 7:50pm: Plane takes off. A quick 45 minute flight to JFK. Got to love JetBlue.
10:00pm: Isn't it ironic that it costs $39 to fly from Burlington to New York City, but $58 to take the cab from JFK Airport to Brooklyn? Arrive to a fresh bottle of Lambrusco and homemade pot-stickers. Note to self: don't drink too much 'brusco. Early morning and looooooong day tomorrow.
Saturday, January 21
Taylor, 7:14am: Heading to the Hell's Kitchen location of Sullivan Street Bakery to meet a friend who's planning a new web-based venture. You may know him from his fudehouse.com fame. We talk web development, budgets, concept, accounting, taxes, audience, and . . . . and . . . and . . . and. We could easily fill up a few hours. Special note: Kudos to the counter guy who steered me toward the fresh from the oven brioche / gruyere / prosciutto pieces of heaven. That's enough to warm a girl for a few hours.
9:14am: Walking over to the Times Center on 41st for TEDxManhattan. Check-in, coat check, can't walk 10 steps without seeing someone I know. Sweet Loren's business is legit after winning The Next Big Small Brand Contest. Brent Wasser moved from CIA to Williams College; let's plan a talk for the students about sustainable food summer employment. Brooklyn Bouillon has come so far since we met here last year. Not enough time to chat. Let's meet Food & Agriculture Lawyer Jason Foscolo in the flesh this Wednesday. Lights flicker on and off. Get to your seats. They mean business.
10:28am: Introduce myself to my neighbor, Peter Kaminsky, author and food advocate. That's why I love TEDx. It's all about the people. First presentation is TED video from Birke Baehr, an 11-year old from Tennessee. This is my fourth time, but it gets better and better. Man that kid's got charisma. Check out his website. Maybe he'll let us profile him for our blog. Love TED / TEDx format. If you haven't been, go. Now. This one -- coordinated by Diane Hatz and Glynwood -- is my favorite food conference of the year.
1:20pm: Session 2. Did I mention I love that Laurie David hosts? What's food without a little fun? Her humor is greatly appreciated. Mitchell Davis, Vice President of James Beard Foundation, presents on "taste." What a novel idea -- seriously. Mitchell delves into flavor, memory, and sensory evaluation and its impact on successfully passing on food culture. I shed some tears. Thank goodness someone is saying this. It gets better. Howard Hinterthuer, winner of the TEDxManhattan Challenge, present on the Veteran's Food Production Project . Stellar performance.
2:57pm: Stephen Ritz -- South Bronx 6th grade Teacher and Founder of Green Bronx Machine -- speaks. He manages to pack 64 minutes of content into the 18 minute time limit, without it being rushed. Unbridled energy, enthusiasm, humor, inspiration, ACTION. By the end, tears are streaming down my face. My neighbor turns to say, "Wow, that was powerful." and I'm crying so hard I can barely breathe in response. You've got to meet this guy.
5:42pm: Literally bump into Barry Estabrook! So amazing. I clue him in that we must start a TEDx on Food Jobs, and he must commit to speak on food justice. Who's in?
Sunday, January 22
Dorothy, 1:15 pm: Back home in the nick of time to put the baby down for a nap, return the Zipcar, make sure we didn't leave the car seat in said Zipcar, and link up with Taylor for our New Amsterdam Market meeting. On the way to the cafe, where the Market's President, Robert, is meeting us, we chat about the agenda. It's the first chance Taylor and I have had to talk, in person, in weeks. Thankfully, and as usual, we are on the same page.
4:30pm: Taylor has headed out to make dinner for her boyfriend's family (a big pot of chili, perfect for the cold weather and big football game. Note chipotle chili powder is REALLY hot. Don't use too much.) My husband is at the office preparing for a big meeting on Monday. That means it's just me and the wee one for dinner and dancing (in our undies).
7:00pm: Bedtime goes off without a hitch and the apartment is shockingly clean. This is the first time in 48 hours that I've had a chance to sit down and embrace the weekend. I give it a bear hug.
See more Food Informants below:
Bob Tuschman is the general manager/SVP of the Food Network. He previously served as senior vice president, programming and production for Food Network, heading up all programming aspects for the network. He was instrumental in discovering, developing and producing many of the network's biggest stars including Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis and Guy Fieri, and led the network to record viewership levels. Prior to joining the Food Network, Tuschman worked at ABC News as a producer for Good Morning America, as well as on specials and numerous pilots. He also produced pilot, series and documentary projects for HBO, ABC, American Movie Classics and CNBC. Tuschman is a graduate of Princeton University and currently lives in New York City. Read Bob Tuschman's diary here.
Dorothy Neagle and Taylor Cocalis met while attending Cornell University in 2004, and immediately bonded over food -- namely, ice cream cones. While Taylor's studies eventually took her to Italy for a Master's degree in Food Culture, and Dorothy's work as an interior designer led her to New York City, they stayed in touch and eventually became neighbors in New York once again. Taylor was running the classroom at Murray's Cheese shop with unbridled enthusiasm when Dorothy discovered that her passion for environmentalism was stirring up an interest in food and agriculture. It didn't take long for the two of them to brainstorm an idea that would satisfy their interests in sustainability, food culture, and making a difference in other people's livelihoods. Good Food Jobs launched in October 2010. As of January 2012 the site has amassed over 16,000 registered followers and posted over 3,000 jobs. Read Taylor and Dorothy's diary here.
One of the biggest college football games of the year was the BCS National Championship. Louisiana State University (ranked number 1) was pitted against rival University of Alabama (number 2), a match-up that also occurred earlier in the season, resulting in LSU's win. But for the championship round, things ended up a little differently. The competition wasn't just between Alabama and LSU though -- chefs had their reputations at stake as well. The Boudin vs. BBQ tailgate pitted Drew Robinson of Jim 'N Nick's Bar-BQ in Alabama against Chris Barbato's Café Adelaide in New Orleans. The diary chronicles Chef Drew Robinson from Jim 'N Nick's, he details how one preps for such a big barbecue feast on someone else's turf. At the same time as Drew was preparing his porky goodness, Tory McPhail, executive chef of Commander's Palace, one of New Orlean's most institutional fine dining restaurants, was preparing for an influx of guests in town for the game. Read Drew and Tory's diary here.
Irene Wong is the Executive Producer of "Unique Eats" and "Unique Sweets," two hit series on the Cooking Channel. Irene's career in food television started in 1999 when she joined the Food Network and created and directed "Everyday Italian" with Giada De Laurentiis, "Ciao America" with Mario Batali, "My Country My Kitchen" and "Melting Pot." In 2006 she started her own production company, IW Productions LLC, which is based in New York City. She was the Co-Executive Producer and Director for several seasons of "Everyday Food," "Everyday Baking," "Mad Hungry" and "Martha Bakes." Read Irene Wong's diary here.
Ben Potts, 28, is the lead brewer at Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats in Rehoboth Beach, De. After Ben discovered craft beer, there was no turning back. His first forays into this world were Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Bigfoot Barleywine, as well as Dogfish Head's Midas Touch and 90 Minute IPA. Talk about full circle! When a friend started homebrewing, he thought, "Hey, I can do this," and picked up his first kit. His first professional gig came about five years later. He was in art school studying to become a painter, but decided brewing might be a more achievable -- but equally creative -- career, so he dropped out and started volunteering at Dock Street Brewing Co. "I worked my ass off until they hired me as assistant brewer," he says. "Then I took over as head brewer in October 2008." Ben moved from Philadelphia to Rehoboth this fall to work at Dogfish Head's brewpub. Outside of the brewhouse, he enjoys hiking, camping, mountain biking, roller hockey, movies, fantasy novels, cooking and having a pint with friends and family. Read Ben Potts' diary here.
Brian Noyes left 25 years of magazine art-direction (Smithsonian, House & Garden, The Washington Post) to launch a rural bakery in the Virginia Piedmont hunt country 50 miles west of Washington, DC. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and at L'Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, he bought a red 1954 Ford pickup from designer Tommy Hilfiger, renovated a 1921 Esso service station in Old Town Warrenton, Va., and threw open the Red Truck Bakery doors in August 2009 just as the economy started to plummet. Rave reviews by The New York Times, Garden & Gun, Southern Living and other publications turned this three-chef bakery into a small town coffee stop with a big online presence, sending out hundreds of orders nationwide each month. He lives in Arlington, Va., with his partner Dwight McNeill and has a farmhouse 20 minutes from the bakery in Orlean, Va. where he usually stays during the week. Two bakers, CIA graduate Kevin Powers and Ryan Glendenning from the Restaurant School in Philadelphia, round out the kitchen staff, with Nicole O'Brien on sandwiches and granola. Read about Brian Noyes' week here.
John T. Edge writes a monthly column, "United Tastes," for the New York Times. He is a contributing editor at Garden & Gun and a longtime columnist for the Oxford American. His magazine and newspaper work has been featured in eight editions of the Best Food Writing compilation. He has been nominated for five James Beard Foundation Awards, including two M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Awards. Edge holds a master's degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. He is director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he documents, studies and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the American South. Read John T. Edge's diary here.
Chris Jones and Richie Farina are chefs at Moto, a fine dining restaurant in Chicago that focuses on innovative and futuristic cuisine. They are both contestants on this season of "Top Chef: Texas." After attending Johnson and Wales University, Farina, the executive sous chef, started cooking in several Boston restaurants, and then joined Moto in 2008. In his spare time, he trains in mixed martial arts, a mixture of Ju Jistu wrestling and boxing. Jones, got his start cooking in his grandmother's kitchen. After working his way up the ladder in several restaurants, Jones is now the chef de cuisine of Moto. He lives with his wife and young daughter, Savannah. Read Chris and Richie's diary here.
Sean Henry is the owner of Houndstooth Coffee in Austin, Texas. Not until graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Radio, Television and Film, did Sean even begin drinking coffee. While working at a local grocery store, Sean began to explore the coffee world region by region. After the initial broad strokes of regional coffees, he began working at local cafes, learning the art of being a barista. At Houndstooth, Sean aims to provide customers with the sophisticated taste and presentation of a perfect cup of Joe. He not only finds value in a well-crafted cup, but in the coffee drinking experience as well. Read Sean Henry's diary here.
Jean K. Reilly MW is the Wine Director for the Morrell Wine Bar and the Wine Buyer at Morrell Wine Co. She is a 10-year veteran of the wine business and has worked in numerous parts of the trade. In 2010, Jean became this country's 26th Master of Wine, only the sixth American woman to hold this prestigious title. Jean's interest in wine began as a hobby while pursuing a career in corporate finance at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Deloitte & Touche. Abandoning the corporate track in 2001, Jean plunged into wine full-time, traveling the vineyards of Europe and the U.S. After a stint as sommelier at a small French restaurant in Manhattan, she worked as a wine instructor for several culinary schools, including Schiller International University in Switzerland. From 2007 to 2008, she also served as the Wine Consultant for Hilton Hotels. Read Jean Reilly's diary here.
Todd Coleman is the executive food editor of Saveur magazine, where for six years he's run the food side of things, including recipe selection, and overseeing the test kitchen. He's also an accomplished photographer who props, styles and photographs the majority of Saveur's covers, as well as frequently shooting and producing stories both in studio and on location. A graduate of the CIA, he's worked in restaurants, has been a private chef, edited at Everyday Food, produced shows for the Food Network, and has photographed cookbooks like The Japanese Grill by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, and the forthcoming Katie Workman book The Mom 100. He lives in Brooklyn, loves the Strand bookstore, hoards photo lenses and is a fiend for Indian food. Read Todd Coleman's diary here.
Chef Stephen Kalil joined PepsiCo and Frito-Lay in 2007 as their first ever corporate chef. In his role, he leads and inspires product development through the application of "Culinology", the blending of culinary arts and food science and technology. He is based at Frito-Lay headquarters in Plano, Texas. Read Stephen Kalil's diary here.
Food maintains a nearly constant presence in the life of 34-year-old competitive eating champion Timothy Janus, known to his fans as Eater X. Ranked #3 in the world by Major League Eating, Janus spends many of his weekends on the road, competing in contests across the country and around the world. A seven-year veteran of the sport, Janus has competed in over 100 events, owns seven world records, and yet still looks pretty good in a pair of pants. At night, Janus is a waiter at a pizza shop in Manhattan's East Village. His life, he says, has been a very good adventure. Read Eater X's diary here.
Geoff Bartakovics, 34, is the co-founder and CEO of Tasting Table, the free daily email publication all about food & drink culture. Before starting Tasting Table, Geoff was a business manager in asset-backed finance at UBS Investment Bank, where he coordinated business activities among the fixed income trading desk and the bank's middle- and back-office functions. Geoff was formerly a business analyst at Deloitte Consulting. He attended The University of Chicago, from which he graduated with honors in English. He was a Fulbright Scholar in comparative literature and philosophy in Berlin and Hamburg. He's an obsessive dinner party entertainer and a serious home cook. Read Geoff's diary here.
Elizabeth Laseter, an aspiring food journalist, is a recent graduate of Johns Hopkins University and lives in Washington, D.C. She received her diploma in Writing and Art History and is now pursuing a Culinary Arts Degree at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md. The one-year program includes six months of learning techniques in the classroom and six months at an externship in a D.C. fine dining restaurant. Elizabeth documents her food adventures through two blogs, The Baltimore Food Rag and The D.C. Food Rag. She decided to attend culinary school after interning at Baltimore magazine and working with the food editor. Read Elizabeth's full diary here.
Jane and Terry Levan operate a 20-acre pastured poultry farm outside of Lexington, Texas called Dewberry Hills Farm, after the dewberry vines that grow wild on their land. They raise antibiotic- and hormone-free meat chickens for sale. Their chickens mostly live outdoors. The Devans call themselves "omnivores with a conscience;" Jane won't eat any meat unless she personally knowns who raised it and how it was processed. Jane and Terry began farming in 2003, after reading Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma. The pair had always wanted to farm, but they didn't want to follow the industrial agricultural model. Jane and Terry built a processing building on-site and became state certified so they could sell their birds commercially in May 2008. Read Jane's diary here.
"James" is an Apple employee. He works at Caffe Macs, the on-site cafeteria of Apple's campus in Cupertino, Ca. Reminiscent of Google's epic food offerings, Caffe Macs is pretty much a corporate food court dream-come-true. Read James' diary here.
Brooklyn-based Aaron Lefkove used to work in book publishing and as a freelance writer. After his office re-located to New Jersey, Lefkove decided he didn't want to do the commute. Lefkove and his business partner, Andy Curtin, had the idea for a Cape Cod-style seafood joint for awhile. One day at a barbecue, they decided to commit to opening a restaurant, Littleneck, Brooklyn's first and only classic New England-style beach side seafood shack. Besides working in restaurants growing up, Lefkove had no experience as a restaurateur. He acknowledges that the process has been a major learning curve, but so far, there haven't been any obstacles they couldn't get around. At first, he thought opening up a clam shack would be easier than finding a new job but it turns it that it is actually "WAY WAY WAY harder." Despite this being the "hardest, most stressful, most frustrating, most time consuming, most ambitious thing" he has ever done, it isn't nearly as hard as he thought it would be. Plus, he says he loves working for himself, working toward something he has "always dreamed about," and building something really exciting. Read Aaron Lefkove's diary here.
Jonathan Stich, 29, is a third generation farmer from Burlington, Wisconsin. He grew weary of the corporate world, went traveling and decided to become a farmer. After reading about how heirloom tomato grower Tim Stark in Pennsylvania sells his products to New York restaurants, Stich made the decision to spend a night in restaurants in Milwaukee and Chicago asking if they'd be interesting in buying local produce. Read more about Jonathan Stich's week here.
Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada are the owners, managers and butchers in chief of LA's artisanal butcher shop Lindy and Grundy. (Erika is Grundy and Amelia is Lindy.) The two, who also live together and are a couple, opened their store on Fairfax last spring (profiled on HuffPost Food). Lindy and Grundy has already been feted as one of the most best butchers in Southern California -- and quite possibly its most sustainable. Read about a week in the life of Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada's here.
Recently, inspired by a meeting at the San Francisco Food Bank, chef Karl Wilder started the food stamp challenge: living and eating on a food stamp budget. What began as a one week project has turned into a two-month long commitment. Wilder calculated that a family has $1.33 to spend per meal, and decided that when using oil and seasonings, the cost would be $1.22. In total, he has less than $4 to spend on food per day. He monitors his nutrition and caloric intake on FitDay. You can read more about his daily experiences at on his blog, Fusion On The Fly. Read about a week in the life of Karl Wilder here.
Chris Cosentino is the executive chef of San Francisco's Incanto, an offal-heavy (not sure what offal is? Check out our Whole Animal Guide here) rustic Italian restaurant located in San Francisco. While encouraging patrons to try different cuts of meat, Cosentino also champions eating locally. He's previously cooked at such renowned restaurants as Kinkead's and Chez Panisse, and cites Jean-Louis Palladin as a big influence on his cooking style. He also co-owns Boccalone, which sells various cured meats and house-made salami. To learn more about Cosentino, check out his website, Offal Good. Read about a week in the life of Chris Cosentino here.
"Jane," 24, has been working for Trader Joe's since 2007, though in 2009 she left for over a year to go work for Whole Foods. She did not like it there and returned to TJ's. At Trader Joe's, every employee does a range of tasks, but Jane's speciality is dairy. Below is her explanation of the pros and cons of the job: I like working for Trader Joe's because they pay me well and offer great benefits. They also respect me as an employee and make me feel like I'm useful and needed and not just another part-time employee that can be replaced (which has been the case at other retail jobs I've had). Trader Joe's is really good at hiring great people and I'm lucky to have so many wonderful co-workers. I don't like working at Trader Joe's because the work can be strenuous on my back and wrists. Being on a register for several hours at a time is tiring and somewhat soul crushing due to ignorant people who feel the need to be condescending to me because I work at a grocery store. I also feel that the company is becoming more and more corporate as it grows and it is beginning to have an impact on the enjoyability of being a part-time "crew member." I also work in a very busy store which causes the managers to stress out a lot and I don't enjoy being surrounded by it. Read about a week in the life of a Trader Joe's employee here.
Chef Nate Appleman is the Culinary Manager at Chipotle. This involves a range of tasks including developing new menu items, opening ShopHouse (Chipotle's upcoming Asian fast-casual chain) and furthering Chipotle's commitment to sustainable sourcing. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Appleman was previously executive chef and co-owner of San Francisco's super popular Italian restaurants A16 and SPQR. Appleman moved to New York in 2010 to open Pulino's. After leaving, Appleman took his current position at Chipotle. He has received a James Beard award for Rising Star Chef, been anointed Best New Chef by Food & Wine and is the champion of Food Network's Chopped All-Stars. Read about a week in the life of Nate Appleman here.
Freeganism is a lifestyle in which one employs "alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources." Gio Andollo is a writer, artist, musician and freegan. Andollo became a freegan when he realized that artists don't get paid much, but he didn't like the idea of working a "crappy, part-time job" to pay the bills. So he found another way. Andollo performs on the subway for about 20 hours a week, typically in two-hour intervals. He makes $10 to $50 per shift and has a love/hate relationship with busking. Andollo will buy food, but very rarely. The majority of his food comes from trash touring, or dumpster diving. He's become increasingly concerned with the abuses inherent in current economic systems: waste of resources, exploitation of people, degradation of the environment, calloused treatment of animals, commodification of time, labor, even war (thus human life in wholesale). In addition to busking part-time, he writes songs, blogs and books about these issues. Read about a week in the life of Gio Andollo here.
Captain Jason Joyce is an eighth-generation resident of Swan's Island, Maine. He is a Coast Guard Licensed Captain and a registered Maine Tidewater Guide. He has done lobster and fish research with the University of Maine, the University of Massachusetts, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Lobster Institute. Joyce is currently doing a lot of work with the Penobscot East Resource Center, which works to secure a viable future for the fishing communities of eastern Maine. Each week, he records HD video of lobstering that he gives to restaurants to educate customers about sustainable lobster fisheries in Maine. Captain Joyce is married to his high school sweetheart and they have four children. Learn more about Captain Jason Joyce here. Read about a week in the life of Jason Joyce here.
Martin Kastner is a serviceware designer extraordinaire/jack-of-all-design-trades for Grant Achatz's Alinea, Next and The Aviary. Kastner creates custom pieces that work with Achatz's elaborate and intricate food. Born in the Czech Republic, Kastner trained as a blacksmith and received an MFA in sculpture. (His thesis was about air). He met his American wife in Prague and moved to the US in 1998. In 2003, Kastner received an unexpected email from Grant Achatz, who had emailed a host of designers. Kastner was the only one to respond. They've partnered not only on serviceware, but also on web design, video and the Alinea cookbook. Kastner's other clients include L20 (an upscale, seafood-focused Chicago restaurant), Le Bernardin (Eric Ripert's homage to seafood) and Empellon (Alex Stupak's new Mexican restaurant in New York). Read about a week in the life of Martin Kastner here.