Amy Bandolik, Food Tour Director: A Week In The Life (Food Informants)
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.
Amy didn't dream of a career in the food industry. She spent 12 years as a Career Counselor and by 32 she was working at New York University teaching seminars such as Don't Quit Your Day Job and The Quarter-Life Career Crisis. That is, until she had a (slightly delayed) quarter-life crisis of her own. After a series of single-girl-in-the-city heartbreaks and with a family history rooted deeply in New York mom & pop shops, she redirected her energy and dove headfirst into being a NYC tour guide for a Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour company. In 2008, Amy officially quit her day job and began working full time (behind the scenes). Amy is the Director of Operations for Foods of New York Tours. The company offers food tours seven days a week, 360 days a year. Amy supervises a troupe of 14 tour guides and maintains relationships with the staffs of the 50 plus restaurants and food shops in the five Manhattan neighborhoods that the Foods of New York Tours highlights. She walks the streets of NYC to find the best food and the most interesting off-the-beaten path sites in order to create new (and enhance current) Food Tours. And since Amy has to eat out A LOT for her job, she is also a proud Weight Watchers member as well.
Read Amy's diary below to learn about the behind-the-scenes planning, and mishaps, that happen during Foods of New York Tours.
All photos by Sandy Hechtman
Monday, Feb 20, 2012 - Date Dilemmas
7:00am, 7:15am, 7:30am: Snooze, Snooze, Snooze. I love the morning. But don't tell that to my night-owl alter ego. She's devilish.
8:45am: I walk from one small studio apartment on Cornelia Street (my home) to the another small studio apartment on Barrow Street (my work). It's two blocks. Tough commute.
9:00am: I'm at my office. I've got several hours ahead of computer and Keurig. Kcups are certainly not the most palate pleasing coffee in NYC and certainly not as good as Porto Rico Importing Co (on our Central Village Food Tour) or my all time favorite: Philz Coffee in San Francisco. (Note to Phil: go for bi-coastal coffee domination.) I have a Monday morning meeting with Todd, my boss and the owner of Foods of New York Tours. Then I read reviews from this weekend's tours and check Facebook for any new photo contest submissions. I'm knee deep in edits for our website. The home page is done and now I'm editing About Us, Contact Us & the FAQs page. It will soon look something like this:
I create a few contracts for some upcoming private food tours: One for a corporate team-building event and the other for a group of high school students. Then I get hit with a cookie emergency. A few last-minute tickets just sold on our Greenwich Village Food Tour and I need to call Milk & Cookies Bakery and a few other shops to update them. Is it terrible that I know the phone number to Milk and Cookies by heart? Dangerous digits.
Noonish: I just got a call from Rizo, who is one-half of the beautiful Brothers Boljevic and owner of Centro Vinoteca, a restaurant on our Greenwich Village Food Tour. We have five tours on the street already and the first of the day is set to arrive at Centro Vintoteca in 25 minutes. But Centro's date delivery did not arrive today. Translation: we can't serve (our usual tasting) of the decadent bacon-wrapped date stuffed with gorgonzola as part of our picolini sampler and some of my tour guides may have already began bragging about that delicious date. Rizo and I select the ever-reliable eggplant rollatine as the substitute and hope it is equally as edible. We scramble to alert the tour guides. And thankfully, those 15 foodie folks on each of those five tours are none the wiser. To them, it looks seamless -- as it should.
2:00pm: I receive an email inquiry from a customer about some severe food sensitivities: He is a gluten intolerant vegetarian who is allergic to mushrooms and tomatoes. This will take some maneuvering since our Greenwich Village Food Tour is largely italian with pizzas, tomatoes, soppressata... But my business philosophy is that the answer is always, "Yes we can." I hope he likes artichokes!
Shortly before the dinner hour: It's my time to hit the streets for some restaurants relations:
- I stop into O&CO, our neighborhood olive oil shop, to pick up a few one liter tins of extra virgin olive oil to pass along to my tour guides. The more the tour guides taste, the more they can talk about their favorite items on the tours. In my opinion, O&CO has the absolute best balsamics, from here to Modena, Italy. I love force feeding friends small spoonfuls of this stuff and watching their astonishment at how sweet and syrupy it tastes. O&CO is a big hit on our tours.
- I make sure to visit with Rizo at Centro Vinoteca to find out how the eggplant rollatine tasting went today and check in with Chef Salvatore Fraterrigo (AKA Toto). Chef and I chat about the San Francisco food scene. We were both recently there so we share our favorite food finds. I tell him all about the porchetta sandwich I tasted, which blew me away. Ten times better than the one I tasted from a food truck in Umbria, Italy, the home of porchetta!
Dinnertime: I taste a small bite of zucchini pizza and equally small bite of the potato/rosemary pizza at Pizza Roma to taste-test this spot and choose between the two flavors. We have been tasting from Pizza Roma on the tour for only a few months. Stick with the zucchini. We usually wait a while before introducing a new restaurant to our tours -- but the Italian charm of the adorable Andrea Franchini won me over.
Dessert time: Quick stop to Milk & Cookies Bakery to pick up snacks for my tour guides. Their Dark Chocolate Toffee cookie always does the trick. I meet my troops: Tour Guides Kerrianne, Bert, Cindy and Todd (Owner) at The Cherry Lane Theatre to watch Mentor Project's Relative Pitch with Elizabeth Rose -- a one woman musical machine. I arrange to have my tour guides see nearly every show at The Cherry Lane Theatre since our Greenwich Village Tour takes our groups inside the space during off hours. We never recommend something we haven't tried and tasted. Tonight's show is a winner to watch. We bring a few cookies for my Cherry Lane liaison, Emily, and the rest of the staff. We like to spread the cookie love whenever we can.
9:30pm: Finally home. Emails back and forth with my tour guides and Todd. This usually goes on until 1:30am.
Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012 - Too much of a good thing
Just past 9AM: On my iMac, I'm a 10-windows-open-at-a-time multi-tasker. I'm always trying to fit too much in and end up overloaded. Spin. Crash. Reboot. Its seems my Greenwich Village Tour might be suffering the same sickness. In an attempt to fill those three hours with eight food tastings and a wealth of tasty historical tidbits, we may have overloaded our tour guides and asked them to engage in a challenging juggling act. An email comes in from one guide: It is becoming tough to fit the three hour tour into three hours. I peruse the tour route sheet in an effort to figure out which architectural elements are must-mentions and which can be cut. I hope to have some inspiration from my architecture class later tonight.
Lunchtime but no lunch: All day I am editing the latest version of our Neighborhood Guide, the booklet that all the tour attendees get with our favorite restaurant listings and menu recommendations. I'm editing silly simple items like phone numbers, addresses, websites and food recommendations. This takes up a large portion of my day.
6pm: On my way to class I stop to see my friend Marc Varsano at his chocolate shop on West 4th Street to pick up some of his Chocolate Sea Salted Caramels. Marc is a sweet, unassuming, non-snobby chocolate maker. Our tours taste treats from Varsano's, but only on occasion. I taste from Varsano's on every occasion. These caramels beat the NYU vending machine snacks. No competition.
6:45pm: Off to class. I'm taking Architecture of New York: 17th century to Present Day. It can only help in tweaking our tours architectural component. Amazing session tonight. And I do indeed think I found a few topical tidbits for the tours that allow us to add some quick architectural references without sacrificing the tastings: How do I spot an original Federal style wooden door from the 1800's, you ask? Why it has 8 panels! Let me show you one...
9:30pm: I ordered some Chinese food from my local favorite: Suzie's on Bleecker.
Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 - The best medicine
9am: The task for the day is to tackle the new website and bring us closer to our launch date -- which we are already two months behind. I have a conference call with the web guys followed by several hours of edits.
Afternoon: Wednesday is organization day in my office. And since I woke up feeling a little stressed and frazzled by my lack of food rations at home, I think organization can only help. The month is nearing it's end, it is time to update the dominant engine that drives our office: The Big Dry Erase Board.
Evening: A day of dates, details and difficult web edits can be so discouraging and I could use a laugh. And thankfully Stand Up NY, has been inviting me uptown to see a comedy show on the house for the last four weeks. Tonight seems a splendid night for a little something silly. The lively and lovely Lindsay sells me on the cross promotion of my tours and her comedy shows. The show I watch gets a giggle out of me -- and that is more than I can say for the multitude of NYC comedy clubs I have meandered into in my time. And as luck would have it, Chris Rock enters, sits down right next to me, hops up on stage for a sweet little set and gently stokes my left arm as he exits. My stressful day falls seamlessly to the sidelines. Lindsay and I strike a great deal -- suspecting my foodies fans might find Stand Up's comedy a equally delectable feast.
Thursday, Feb 23 - Color Me Happy
8:55am: I wake up in panic fearing I will be late to work. It's five minutes to 9. Then remember I have the day off. Thursday has been my day off for four years running and yet each and every Thursday I have the same heart pounding panic attack.
Around 3pm: I stop by to see my creative and colorful friend Carol, who runs StyleWorks of Union Square. She is a colorist. Not for hair (although she can talk to you about that too). But color as in: What colors suit me best. I referred a few friends, tour guides and local chefs Carol's way and so she offered me a free session to talk color. Three of my tour guides have found their correct and complementary colors and often comment that when they wear the right colors (winter purples for Heather, fall corals for Sephrah and turquoise blue for Anny) that their tips are higher and the tourists seem happier. It's such a seemingly simple little color switch that yields such impressive results. Carol drapes her color swatches on me to discover my winter palette comes alive with deep pinks and purples. Carol is awesome and she lifts my spirits with her encouraging advice on how to capitalize on your colors and increase your confidence.
A few hours later: With my color palette contemplated, I meet my tour guide, former roommate and friend (that's all one person) Anny. Anny is an excellent tour guide and a talented singer. We're off to walk and talk on this unseasonably sunshiny day. And since Anny is a Spring color-wise, walking with her is all I need to lose those those winter blues.
7pm: There's one meeting that I hate to miss: my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. When you do dinners out for work as much as I do, and especially after my year-long binge through Nolita while designing our newest Food Tour, you need to figure out a way to reign it in. This way works. I love Weight Watchers' old school approach with its equally modern and relevant ideas. I love walking into a room full of people all seeking a satisfying meal paired with a slender silhouette. I love the old lady who talks about things just seemingly off topic but them reveals some great pearl of age acquired wisdom in the weight department. And I love that this week I am down 1.6 lbs which means... I reached my goal. My Nolita Food Tour research pounds are gone and then some. And I stay loyal, week in and week out, to the one "diet" that actually worked after all my crazy juice fast frenzies had failed.
Friday, Feb 24, 2012 - Need Some Lovin
7:30am: Up and excited to get to work. After a full day off, I suffer slight withdrawal. I miss my foodie friends and could use a hug from a sweet chef or a handsome host. Thankfully Friday is field day for me. I'm out of the office almost all day and off to foster my friendships with each establishment on the tour. I genuinely feel a kinship with these kitchen kings and queens and I love that Foods of New York Tours has the ability to share their tasteful talents with our tourists.
9:30am - 12:00pm: I'm at Chelsea Market: One of my all time favorite buildings and the birthplace of the Oreo Cookie. I visit with a few food shops to make sure the tours are running smoothly in their minds and check in with Bert (one of my tour guides) while he is prepping the food for today's tour. Most tour attendees have no idea that we are the little elves sneaking behind the scenes to prep platters and trays and tasty treats. But we are. And we do.
I'm off to the famous Sarabeth's Bakery. It's a great day: Sarabeth is here in the bakery and she's got a few minutes to spare for me. I love Sarabeth. Sarabeth reminds me of my mom a bit - but will a full deck of decadent desserts at her disposal. We catch up for a while. She gives me a little piece of chocolate and gently reminds me: "Just one."
12pm: Back to the office for lots of emails from customers and private tour requests.
4pm - 8pm: The very best part of my week has arrived. With my Chelsea Market check-ins out of the way, I'm off to visit the owners and managers of all the restaurants on our other food tours: Greenwich Village, Central Village/SoHo and my baby, Nolita. I place all my food orders for tomorrow's tours and use this as a chance to catch up and check on the tours and see how seamlessly they are running. I also love this part of my day because I am in awe of restaurant workers. I love these people -- the ones that do this dinner dance in their dimly lit spaces as diners soak up that eternal evening energy that sets Manhattan island apart from all others, times 10. I love one of these people in particular.
Home Restaurant, Cornelia Street, at sunset: This might be my favorite stop. I'm here to drop off our weekly payment, just as I have done every Friday for the last few years. On one particular Friday, 16 months prior, I walked into Home and I met the host, Tim. At first, a glance. Then a call. Followed by a date. Then two. Then 12. Then 52. My boyfriend, Tim, works here at Home while studying to become a History Teacher at Hunter College. I walk into Home every Friday night to pay my bill for the tours, get my hug and I'm on my way with a spring in my step.
Later that night: On my way to Nolita I stop at Once Upon a Tart to drop off my food orders for tomorrow. Every Friday I see the same man, sitting on the same bench, in front of the same shop. I don't know his name. He speaks little English and wears a hearing aide. Every time I pass by he gives me a nod and a smile as is we have been friends for a lifetime.
Dinnertime: I engage in a regular Friday ritual, 67 weeks running, minus a few weeks here and there: dinner with Todd (my boss) and Isaac (our friend, Cornelia Street neighbor and colleague at New York Fun Tours). We dine at the most basic and nondescript spots in an effort to get away from all the fancy foods and fine dining. Throughout the planning of our Nolita Tour, these dinner dates and taste tests revolved around a 12 block radius from Mott to the Bowery and from Spring to Bond. It was (and is) a much loved ritual.
Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 - Winter Weather Advisory
7:30am: I wake up to winter wind advisory on NY1 News. Gusts of 40 - 60 miles per hour and blowing construction debris expected. What might be normal non-important small talk for some is make-or-break for our walking tours. A weather warning worries me and I wonder what alternative tour routes I can come up with: Skip Hudson street, use Murray's Cheese Shop classroom for the tasting, do your overview in the sunshine, make sure your tour attendees are warm enough and happy and that no downed trees are in their food-laden path.
9:00am: Saturday is our busiest day with 122 tour attendees and eight tours all occurring around midday. My job on Saturday is to hang out in front of Murray's Cheese Shop (our meeting location and tasting spot on our Greenwich Village Food Tour) and greet the early arrivals and the latecomers so the tour guides can focus on what they do best.
11:00am: I chat with Marie about the weather scenario and give her a few tips for which streets are safer to do her tour overview today.
11:30am: I race from one neighborhood to the next to greet the tour attendees on our Central Village/SoHo Tour at Monte's Trattoria on MacDougal. I race back to Greenwich Village to...
12:15pm: I greet a gaggle of girls that I set up with one of our Private Food Tours. It's a bachelorette party but thankfully, a relatively tame one. Moms and Aunts and sisters and friends -- all eating their way down Bleecker Street with Kerrianne, my guide, at the helm.
4:30pm: Quick visit to Home Restaurant before Tim starts his evening shift. Then back to my apartment. Rest.
See more Food Informants below:
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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong>Read 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." <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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! <strong><a 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 R&D 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 R&D is very much a team effort: they all work together on new flavor innovations across all regions. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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." <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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>. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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. <strong><a 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>
David Wondrich, Cocktail Guru
David Wondrich was educated -- in between stints as boatyard worker, bass player, process server and a dozen other things -- at New York University, where he earned a Doctorate in Comparative Literature in 1997. After a brief career as a Shakespeare professor and a briefer one as a jazz critic, he fell into a job writing about drinks for Esquire magazine, an occupation he has happily persevered in ever since. Widely acknowledged as the world's foremost expert on the history of the cocktail, Dr. Wondrich is the author of countless newspaper and magazine articles and five books, including 2007's Imbibe! (which won a James Beard award) and Punch, which was released to wide acclaim in late 2010. He frequently lectures on drinks and their curious history and is a founding partner in Beverage Alcohol Resource, the nation's leading training program for bartenders and other mixologists and a member in satisfactory standing of the Yerba Buena No. 1 chapter of E Clampus Vitus. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/david-wondrich_n_1373090.html" target="_hplink">Read David's diary here.</a></strong>
Daniel Klein, Founder Of 'Perennial Plate'
After learning to cook at his mother's bed and breakfast, Daniel Klein went on to work and train at many of the world's top restaurants. His culinary education brought him to Spain, France, England, India and New York, where he has worked and trained at top Michelin starred restaurants including The Fat Duck (Heston Blumenthal), St. John (Fergus Henderson), Mugaritz (Andoni Luis Aduriz), Bouchon (Thomas Keller), Applewood (David Shea) and Craft (Tom Collichio). After graduating from NYU, Daniel also pursued a career in film. He has directed, filmed, edited and produced projects on various issues including the development industry in Africa and oil politics. Currently, Daniel Klein produces The Perennial Plate, an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. You can find his weekly videos right here on HuffPost Food. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/21/daniel-klein-perennial-plate_n_1364613.html?ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Daniel Klein's diary here.</a></strong>
Stewart Hawthorn, Craft Salmon Farmer
Stewart Hawthorn is the the principal farmer for all of Skuna Bay's salmon farming activities. He began farming salmon on the west coast of Scotland almost 25 years ago, first on the Isle of Skye, and later at Loch Sunart and Loch Diabeg. After gaining experience in Europe, North America called and life found Stewart working at Limekiln Bay on the eastern coast of Canada. New Zealand was his next stop, raising salmon in the Marlborough Sounds and savoring the region's wines. In the early 1990s, Stewart took a sabbatical from salmon farming and spent several years in rural Papua New Guinea, where he worked to implement sustainable freshwater carp pond farming at the village level. Now at Skuna Bay, Stewart believes that by farming salmon, he helps to reduce the influence of invasive practices of large scale fishing companies and the pressure on wild salmon populations. When Stewart isn't busy crafting salmon, or caring for his extensive family, he can still be found along the water swimming in lakes and rivers. He also plays squash, and enjoys hiking and running. He is a member of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, and sits as a Board Member at Vancouver Island University. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/stewart-hawthorn-craft-salmon-farmer_n_1332226.html" target="_hplink">Read Stewart's diary here.</a></strong>
Amy Bandolik, Food Tour Director
Amy didn't dream of a career in the food industry. She spent 12 years as a Career Counselor and by 32 she was working at New York University teaching seminars such as Don't Quit Your Day Job and The Quarter-Life Career Crisis. That is, until she had a (slightly delayed) quarter-life crisis of her own. After a series of single-girl-in-the-city heartbreaks and with a family history rooted deeply in New York mom & pop shops, she redirected her energy and dove headfirst into being a NYC tour guide for a Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour company. In 2008, Amy officially quit her day job and began working full time (behind the scenes). Amy is the Director of Operations for Foods of New York Tours. The company offers food tours seven days a week, 360 days a year. Amy supervises a troupe of 14 tour guides and maintains relationships with the staffs of the 50 plus restaurants and food shops in the five Manhattan neighborhoods that the Foods of New York Tours highlights. She walks the streets of NYC to find the best food and the most interesting off-the-beaten path sites in order to create new (and enhance current) Food Tours. And since Amy has to eat out A LOT for her job, she is also a proud Weight Watchers member as well. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/amy-bandolik-food-tour-director_n_1314921.html" target="_hplink">Read Amy's diary here.</a></strong>
Aldo Sohm, Le Bernardin's Wine Director
Aldo Sohm is the Wine Director of the acclaimed New York restaurant Le Bernardin. His wine career began in Austria and he won the title of "Best Sommelier of Austria 2002." He upheld this title for four consecutive years, a feat never before or since accomplished. Sohm relocated to the United States in July 2004 and worked as the wine director at Wallsé, Blaue Gans and Café Sabarsky. He was voted "Best Sommelier in New York" in 2006 by New York Magazine. The following year, Sohm competed for and won the title of "Best Sommelier in America 2007." In May 2007, Sohm joined Le Bernardin, New York's longest rated four-star restaurant. As wine director, he oversees a wine collection consisting of 15,000 bottles made up of 900 wine selections from 12 countries with vintages that date back to 1945. He also trains the sommeliers to offer guests enticing food and wine pairings that range from classic to daring. His favorite pairing at Le Bernardin is scallops with morels and Chablis ler Cru Vaillon, Defaix 2000. Sohm reached the pinnacle of wine competitions when he was awarded the highly-coveted title, "Best Sommelier in the World 2008," by the World Sommelier Association. He is the first representative of America to win this title. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/aldo-sohm-le-bernardin_n_1308019.html?ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Aldo's diary here.</a></strong>