Stewart Hawthorn, Craft Salmon Farmer: 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.
Skuna Bay is a Vancouver Island-based craft salmon farm in which the salmon are raised in the ocean. Skuna Bay has been certified under BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices), and has been accepted into the Aquarium of the Pacific's Seafood for the Future program. Los Angeles restaurants such as Bouchon, Son Of A Gun and Nobu all use Skuna Bay salmon.
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.
Read Stewart's diary below to learn about how a craft salmon farm is run, and how Skuna Bay cares for its fish.
Monday, February 27
5:55am: Wake-up alarm -- time to get up, light the wood stove and to get the coffee on.
6:25am: Kerry, my better half, drives me to the Denman Island ferry. The ferry leaves at 6:40am sharp (or sometimes even a little bit ahead of schedule, so you can't be late). It is a beautiful morning -- clear sky, spectacular sunrise. A perfect start to the week.
6:55am: Ferry arrives at Buckley Bay. Then there is the 35 minute drive to Campbell River. This is where our main office is and where we coordinate the farming and other activities of Skuna Bay craft-raised salmon. On the way there are several bald eagles that are cruising the sky -- getting ready to start their day.
8:04am: Conference call with the farmers at the Gold River hatchery. Barry (fish vet and the guy who looks after the farming processes), Robin (our quality and freshwater guru) and I are heading out there after the call. We check into how the fish are doing and to make sure that the guys on the ground have everything they need to rear great fish (you'll hear that a lot around here!).
9:35am: What a great day for driving. We travel through the Strathcona Provincial Park. The mountains are majestic and they surround glassy calm lakes.
10:05am: Arrive at the hatchery. The setting is awesome. Steep mountain cliffs guard the hatchery that is nestled near the mouth of the Gold River as it enters Nootka Sound. Gold River is a small town that was founded on the forests of BC -- with a pulp and paper mill and logging being the mainstay for the community for many years. Now it is forestry, fish farming, tourism and the great outdoors that supports many here.
10:27am: Another conference call. I'm on the phone with the Seafood for the Future Program Manager, Kim Thompson. We discuss Kim's recent visit to our operations. Seafood for the Future is the Aquarium of the Pacific's sustainable seafood choices programme that endorses responsible seafood capture and farming practices. Skuna Bay is proud to be part of the programme -- but it is demanding as we need to be open and transparent about everything that we do.
10:50am: At last I get to go and look at some fish. I head out to the place where all of our little baby salmon are and meet up with Sarah. Sarah keeps a close eye on everything that happens from egg right through until the little fish take their first bite of food. The goal of the Gold River hatchery farmers is to exactly mimic the pristine river environment that salmon eggs would naturally be laid in (hopefully minus the bears, but they do come around from time to time...). Each group of eggs is given a unique source of clean and pure water. The eggs spend about 90 days developing in their little groups. Then they hatch. That is what was happening today with some of the fish. I check with the team and see what a great job they are doing. Keeping the groups of eggs clean, removing any eggs that did not make it. Some of the baby Coho salmon are now taking their very first bites of food. This is carefully dropped in to them -- they are enthusiastic feeders. It is great to see them doing so well.
11:30am: I move on to another part of the Gold River farm. In this part of the farm we have lots of baby salmon that are being prepared to go out to the ocean net enclosures (at this stage we call them "smolt"). Salmon are hatched and initially raised in freshwater, but they grow in the sea. We need to carefully check that the fish are ready to go to the ocean net enclosures -- because salt water is very different from freshwater. These baby fish are now just over 1 year old. They are getting fed a diet that is rich in protein and energy. They are looking really good -- nice and big, plump and fit. In a couple of weeks they will be ready for the journey to their natural ocean environment.
1:25pm: Barry, Robin and I catch-up with Mike Anderson. Right now he looks after everything that goes on at Gold River. It's a big responsibility -- as all of our Skuna Bay fish start their life right here at the Gold River hatchery at the head of Nootka Sound. He's sounding upbeat -- the fish are doing well. The eggs are hatching. The little fry are starting to eat. It feels like we have a great new generation of Skuna Bay salmon growing just perfectly. But they have a long way to go -- it will take another 3 years for those first feeding fry to be harvested and sent to our customers around North America.
1:43pm: We leave the hatchery for the drive back to Campbell River We debrief and talk about the weeks and months ahead for the Freshwater craft farmers -- there is a lot to do but I am feeling really positive that they are on top of things.
3:04pm: Back in Campbell River. I've got a meeting with Cam -- a second generation fish processor and the person who looks after all of the preparation of our Skuna Bay fish from harvest until they are packed and ready to go to market. We're talking about eggs again. This time eggs that are destined for being turned into salmon roe. Cam has developed a Japanese ready salmon roe product called "ikura." Cam gently takes the salmon eggs from mature fish and then marinades them in a secret recipe sauce -- these are then sold to retailers in Japan. We grow some Coho salmon especially for the eggs and Cam is keen to take more of these for the Japanese market.
3:45pm: I touch base with some of the team in the office. Walter, our Controller needs me to make some time to talk with the auditor of our accounts, Marilyn who looks after our sustainability and First Nations relationships talks to me about discussions with two of the Nations whose territories we farm in.
4:00pm: I get a text from Kerry with the shopping list -- one of the joys of living on an Island is that I get to do most of the shopping. It's time to hit the road so that I can get to the store then get back in time to catch the 5pm ferry from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. Island life is great -- but you quickly learn that the ferry waits for no-one and clock watching becomes a bit of an obsession.
5:30pm: Kerry and I have time for a quick walk with the two dogs (Star and Maddie) and our daughter, Morag. Morag takes a carrot for Jahan the horse that is in the paddock at the end of road.
7:25pm: Dinner -- lamb stew. Delicious!
Tuesday, February 28th 2012
7:35am: Ferry arrives in Buckley Bay - there was only one other foot passenger today and not too many cars. I guess the weather is putting people off.
8:23am: Line up for the Quadra Island Ferry. This ferry leaves Campbell River ever hour or so and travels to Quadra Island. It's a slightly longer run than the Denman Ferry and much more exposed. There is a bit of a roll in the Straight. Quadra Island is just off of Campbell River. It is a beautiful place and is the home of the Wei Wai Kai First Nation.
8:50am: Arrive Quadra Island. There is a short 15 minute drive ahead as I am going to the family owned and operated Walcan fish processing plant. Walcan, run by Cam Pirie who I met up with yesterday, has been processing fish for almost 40 years. They are real experts and believe in custom processing by hand. We really like what they do with our Skuna Bay salmon I'm going to check out the processing today, have a look at some of the fish to make sure that the really tough standards that have been set are being adhered to and also try my hand at filleting -- we need to understand how our Skuna's work for the Chefs. The only way to do that is to do it yourself (or at least to watch the experts do it!).
9:07am: The fish are looking great! This is the first "pull" from a new farm location, Atrevida, that is located in Nootka Sound. The fish have nice thick belly walls, beautiful body conformity, nice tight scales, bright eyes and red gills. That is everything that we need them to be to qualify as Skuna's. I head straight for the gutting line -- it is a bit like medieval medicine, but you can really tell a lot from what a fish's viscera looks like! And to me (this is what gets me going after all) these guts are looking good -- with nice amounts of fatty tissue and consistent colour telling me that the fish were in great condition when they were harvested.
10:05am: I head over to the Skuna Bay line. Only a small proportion of the total harvest makes it to Skuna Standard. And there are only 6 people in the entire Walcan team who have been approved to select, prepare and pack Skuna fish. It is so important to get this piece of the puzzle right. It has taken our craft farmers 3 years to get these fish to this point. Today there is Luc, Colin and Lisa selecting the Skuna Bay salmon. Each fish is carefully inspected, given a very thorough clean then put through several special "ocean fresh" steps that help to lock in that "fresh from the ocean quality." Finally 3 fish are gently placed into the recyclable Skuna carton, individually iced, then the box is firmly closed with a tamper proof seal. The finishing touch is when one of the Skuna selectors individually signs and dates a label that is proudly put onto the carton. The next person to touch these fish will be the Chef in their kitchen. That is something that we can guarantee.
10:54am: Ray picks out a few fish then we head over to a quiet part of the plant to do some hand a filleting. It is amazing to watch the ease with which he can run a knife through the salmon and within seconds there are a couple of perfect fillets. Me, well it's not terrible, but I'd need a lot more training to make it into Ray's filleting team! The Skuna's are great though and very forgiving. Nice firm fillets with tight musculature.
11:33am: Walcan processes our craft-raised salmon, wild run salmon, shellfish, shrimp, black cod, herring and all sorts of other seafood delights. We are very fortunate to have this great partner to work with -- it means that we can concentrate on farming and we can trust that the processing will be done to a high standard every time.
12:11pm: I head back to the Quadra Ferry line-up and arrive in Campbell River. I head over to the BC Salmon Farmers Association. We discuss how we are going as a farming community. This is important stuff as we are dedicated to reducing pressure on wild stocks and helping to feed the world.
5:50pm: Check into the Coast Discovery hotel in Campbell River. The weather is getting worse and I don't want to drive back to Denman Island in driving snow.
6:08pm: Dinner at the Dolphin Resort -- this place has some of the best food in Campbell River.
9:15pm: I head back to the hotel. I'm glad I decided to stay local -- there is snow on the road and more piling up on top of it. It's time for a beer.
Wednesday, February 29
6:54am: Head outside to go and meet Blair at the office. Whoa! There is about 3 inches of thick and icy snow and my car is covered in it.
7:04am: Arrive at the office. Blair, who looks after our farms on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is waiting for me. This is where we farm most of our fish -- in Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet. He must have seen the snow and given himself extra time to get to our meeting point. I grab a "survival suit" for when we are out on the water -- this suit keeps you warm and provides floatation if you are unfortunate enough to fall into the water. It is not the easiest to walk in, but you're not cold.
7:25am: Beautiful drive today -- the snow is clinging to the branches of the trees. We are surrounded by nature's ice sculptures. We are heading out on the same road to Gold River, through Strathcona Provincial Park. The farms we are heading for are situated in Nootka Sound -- where Captain James Cook landed, in 1778 on the West Coast of Canada for the first time.
9:23am: We arrive at the Muchalaht South farm and are greeted by Leon and Shaun. They are feeding baby salmon (smolt) that have recently been transferred from the Gold River hatchery to this farm location. They are pleased to report that the little fish are thriving -- eating well, growing well and loving their natural ocean environment. We spend time talking about what the key tasks that are coming up, discussing the farm environment -- water temperatures, water oxygen levels, plankton and salinity.
10:25am: Blair and I head off towards the Concepcion farm. This farm is a 20-minute fast boat ride away. There are three farms in this next area and our farmers work here with one age group of salmon. So the fish at Concepcion, Atrevida and Williamson are all one year older than the Muchalaht South fish and will all grow through to harvest then the whole area is left fallow prior to restocking. This is one of our craft farming techniques that helps to make sure we treat the environment that we are working in respectfully. At Concepcion we meet up with Jeff. He is one of our expert farmers and is really in tune with how his livestock is doing. Jeff loves his fish and is passionate about making sure that they get fed fantastically well.
11:15am: We are getting ready to leave Concepcion when Blair notices that a Californian sea lion has managed to get past our external predator net. The fish are still secure in their net enclosure, but we don't want the sea lion this close to them. Blair hangs back at the farm to get the sea lion out. I head over to the Atrevida farm to catch-up with Kyle and the gang over there.
11:20am: I arrive at Atrevida. This is where we were harvesting our Skuna Bay fish from yesterday. Kyle shows me around the farm -- he's feeling on top of things and pleased to be harvesting. He's been responsible for these particular fish for coming up for two years. It is always nice to see them heading off the farm and on their way to market -- mission complete!
12:22am: Blair calls on the farm radio. He's checking in as he's been alone for about one hour. It's important that we keep tabs on each other in this environment as things can quickly change. Our rule is that every hour we check in when working alone. The good news is that Blair managed to get the sea lion out of the farm. He lowered the predator net down from the surface and created a tunnel. The sea lion was a bit wary to start with, but eventually got the idea and made a dash for it. As soon as he was out Blair quickly lifted the net up again and secured it.
12:48pm: Blair arrives at Atrevida. We wait for the incoming crew to turn up.
12:54pm: Cory and Ray arrive -- they are looking fit and refreshed and are ready for their eight days looking after their livestock in this fantastic place. We briefly talk about the plans for the next few weeks and months then Blair and I head over to the Williamson farm.
1:23pm: At Williamson, Steve and his team are settling in. Again we discuss where things are at, tour around the farm checking on our animals and discuss the things that need to be done.
5:12pm: I get back in the car and head for the Denman Island ferry. The road trip is clear and easy. The bad news is that I forgot to grab the Skuna Bay salmon fillet from the office fridge - so there will be slim pickings for dinner tonight!
6:35pm: Back home. The dogs are happy to be out of the car, running down the drive and looking for Morag.
Thursday, March 1
6:55am: Heading for Nanaimo today -- catching a float plane to Vancouver.
7:48am: Arrive Nanaimo and check-in at Harbour Air for the direct flight to Downtown Vancouver. This is a really convenient and smooth service. The people at Harbour Air have really got it right -- you can easily change flights, get allocated to later flights if you miss your connection and cancel at the last minute if you need to -- all for no penalty. It is not at all like commercial flights with traditional carriers.
8:10am: Boarding the float plane to Vancouver. The views are really great from these small planes -- they fly low and land right in the harbour in downtown Vancouver.
9:06am: I'm at the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre I'm meeting with Lindsaye and Tarin. They run the Aquarium's rescue centre that is located on land right in the middle of Vancouver. Everything that this centre does is funded by donations -- they don't get any government support for the rescue centre. There are many dedicated volunteers (apparently retired nurse's have great skills!) who help to look after the animals. Right now it is the off season. So there are only 2 harbour seals and, unusually, one harbour porpoise. Most of the time the Centre looks after seal pups that have been either abandoned or lost. (Sometimes a mother will leave the pup on a log boom which is then towed away -- when the mother comes back the logs are gone, along with the baby pup. The tug skippers then notice the baby pup and give the Rescues Centre a call.) In the busy season there can be over 100 animals on site at any one time.
I'm meeting Lindsaye to talk about our seal and sea lion management programme. Seals and sea lions are clever animals who know a good feed when they see one and sometimes our farms can attract them. Land farmers have to protect their stock from wolves or domestic dogs and we need to manage seals and sea lions to minimise and hopefully eliminate any negative interactions. Occasionally a seal or sea lion will get into our net enclosures and they can cause a lot of damage in a very short period of time. We are looking to find better ways to get these animals out of our farms -- and we hope that we can get some good ideas from the Rescue centre. We also hope to get them to assist us in exceptional circumstances. The idea that we talk about today is that the Aquarium's veterinarian might be able to temporarily knock an animal out with a dart gun so that our farmers can get the animal out of the net enclosure so it can be released unharmed. This might be needed once every year or two. That would reduce the risk of the animal getting entangled in a net or of us needing to resort to more permanent options! Lindsaye is pleased that Skuna Bay is looking to keep improving and wants to discuss with others at the centre and at Vancouver Aquarium.
10:48am: Time to move on to a meeting with Albion Fisheries. They are a dedicated seafood specialist distributer in Western Canada. They source seafood (wild and farmed) from a range of suppliers and then distribute this quickly and efficiently to their customers. They are committed to sourcing responsibly and I am talking to them about carrying our salmon and working out the logistics associated with this. Freddy Cirillo pick's me up and we head over to their facility.
12:05pm: After meeting with Freddy, John, Chris and Ted I get a tour of their receiving, processing and shipping areas. It is fascinating to tour a facility like this. There is a vast array of different species of seafood. Many of these I have never heard of, never mind tasted! Albion is pretty unique in that they source a lot of different types of products then process it into formats that their different customers require. They have everything from live crabs to individually packaged salmon portions.
1:06pm: I meet up with Blair and Charna of Calkins and Burke. This is another seafood broker. They handle a lot of our salmon that does not make the Skuna grade. We've had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with C&B. We are discussing the future in terms of our customers needs and how we get fresh salmon from BC to the rest of North America.
4:10pm: I check in with Harbour Air for the flight back to Vancouver Island. My original flight is booked for 5.30pm - but they shift me to the 4.20pm flight. That is perfect as it means I should be able to catch the 6pm ferry back to Denman Island (rather than the 8.30pm that I was probably going to catch).
Friday, March 2
7:37am: Arrive Coast Discovery Hotel, Campbell River. I'm have a breakfast meeting with Frode, who is a freshwater farming guru. He worked in Canada in the past, but now lives and works in Norway. Frode has been at our Gold River hatchery for the last few days helping to further enhance the skills and knowledge of our freshwater farming team. He reports great progress and is impressed by our teams willingness to soak up new ideas and ability to implement them.
8:16am: Leave the hotel and head to the office. I've got a conference call scheduled for 9am with Cascades who have developed the unique recyclable cardboard carton that we use with our Skuna Bay salmon.
9:02am: Martin, from Cascades in Quebec joins the call. His team has developed a unique cardboard carton called "Thermafresh'" that we ship our Skuna Bay salmon in. It is a big improvement on the existing styrofoam boxes that everyone else uses because it can be completely recycled in existing cardboard recycling programmes. Styrofoam is a big problem for the seafood world -- with this packaging being great for getting product to customers in good condition, but it is not so good to dispose of once it has been used. We are talking with Martin about his packaging and how we can extend this format over more of our salmon.
9:44am: I get on the road again to the Gold River hatchery.
11:10am: Arrive at the hatchery and go back into the egg holding area. More eggs have hatched since earlier in the week. The exciting news is that this part of the system is now much less busy that it was on Monday. A whole batch of our baby "first feeders" (fry) have been moved over to the first feeding ponds. The team is really proud of the good work that they have done -- bringing eggs through this sensitive time to hatch is no mean feat.
12:02pm: I'm now back in Gold River town at the Manila Gourmet restaurant. I have a meeting with some of our First Nation partners in whose territory we farm. It is important that we have good relations with the Nations whose territories we work in. I discuss with the Chiefs some of the challenges and opportunities that Skuna Bay is working on. Overall I am pleased with our relationships with First Nations -- there is still work to do but we are getting there. All of the Nations we work with take their guardianship of the environment and their territory very seriously and that fits well with our commitment to farming responsibly.
1:51pm: I catch-up with Mike and then head to the ponds with the salmon fry in them. They are looking good in their new home! The ponds need to simulate the sleepy headwaters of a river system where the eggs would naturally hatch. Our farmers don't only tend the fish, they also tend the water. This is the most important factor in raising Skuna Bay salmon. Without very high quality water you can't grow good fish. They spend a lot of time checking that the water has everything that these sensitive soon-to-be-first-feeders need. These fish will be held in the ponds for a few days without any need for feed -- they are still living off the yolk that the egg was laid with. But as soon as this is exhausted it is important that lots of food is available. In the wild, the fish get this from the streams that they are born in (but most of the little fish won't make it as there simply is not enough food around). But in our farming environment we can make sure that there is lots of feed for the little fry and so most of them do very well.
2:46pm: Leave Gold River -- heading back to the office to pick-up a side of Skuna Bay craft raised to take home for dinner tonight.
6:25pm: Time to get dinner on. Friday night is my night. And tonight is Skuna Bay salmon night. We have a mix of salmon sashimi (finely sliced chunks of buttery, melt in your mouth salmon) and broiled salmon (mirin, soy sauce, ginger and onion marinade), Japanese rice and salad. Delicious!
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Company founder and managing member Izetta Chambers is the driving force behind Naknek Family Fisheries. She organized the LLC in October 2006 and has been managing it seasonally since that time. Izetta is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 2008. Izetta serves as the MAP Agent/Assistant Professor for the Marine Advisory Program, an extension partnership between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant program. Izetta lives in Dillingham with her husband, Chet, their children, Noah and Lovina. Izetta (a.k.a. "the fish lady") has participated in the Bristol Bay fishery since the age of 9 years old, when she began setnet salmon fishing with her brother, Everett Thompson. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/17/food-informants-izetta-chambers_n_3562289.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Izetta's diary here</a>.</strong>
Dominique Ansel, Cronut Maestro
Dominique Ansel served as the Executive Pastry Chef for Restaurant Daniel under chef Daniel Boulud for six years. During his tenure, the restaurant won its first 3-star Michelin rating, a 4-star New York Times review and James Beard's Outstanding Restaurant of the Year Award in 2010. In 2013, Chef Ansel received his own James Beard Award nomination as a finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef at his eponymous bakery. (Pictured is a DKA, not a cronut). <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/food-informants-dominique-ansel-cronut_n_3562955.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Dominique's diary here</a>.</strong>
Sarah Allman, Pastry Chef At A Diamond Mine
Sarah Allman has been baking in her own kitchen, bakeries and high-end restaurants for the past 12 years. A native of Peterborough, Ontario (an hour outside of Toronto), she developed her passion for baking at a young age, unknowingly apprenticing with her great grandmother at the age of eight. In February, she left her job at a bakery five kilometers from her home to bake her wares over 3500 km away, at Diavik Diamond Mine, 200 km from the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories. The only thing she loves more than being in the kitchen is being with her four kids, which is why she took the job with the longer commute. She works a two-week rotation at the Diamond Mine, which allow her to spend two work-free weeks with her kids every month. When she worked at the bakery she was starting her day at 7am and on Saturdays -- this left only one full day with her kids. Working at Diavik for Bouwa Whee Catering, she continues to be a mom at home and it extends to her work family at the mine, who love her baked goods and eat more than their share. Her peanut butter brownie cups have become a mine favorite, to the point that workers stock up before they head home. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/02/food-informants-sarah-allman_n_3518272.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Sarah's diary here</a>.</strong>
Izabela Wojcik, James Beard Director Of House Programming
Izabela A. Wojcik is the Director of House Programming for the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 that is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing and preserving America's diverse culinary heritage and future. Wojcik oversees more than 250 special events held at the historic James Beard House, which features chefs, pastry chefs and winemakers from across the United States and beyond. In her role as head of House programming, Wojcik has a rolodex of culinary and beverage professionals from around the world. Part of her responsibility is engaging in constant dialogue with influencers in the epicurean industry, thereby, staying on top of the latest gastronomic trends. Wojcik frequently appears on panels concerning food and cooking. She holds a B.S. degree from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, New York. Her culinary experience also includes positions at Marriott and Omni Hotels, Tribeca Grill and Osteria del Circo restaurants. A self-taught chef, she is proud to have been selected to cook at the four-star Chanterelle, as well as First in New York. Wojcik resides in Brooklyn with her journalist husband and son. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/food-informants-izabela-wojcik_n_3466547.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Izabela's diary here</a>.</strong>
Larry Austin, Whole Foods Detroit Store Manager
Larry Austin got his start in the grocery world as a bagger, cashier and stocker at the Detroit chain Farmer Jack's in 1988. He headed to Ann Arbor soon after and stocked the grocery, dairy and frozen sections at Arbor Farms for a few years before joining Whole Foods Market's Ann Arbor store as a receiver in 1999. Larry worked his way up from receiver to grocery buyer and eventually Grocery Team Leader, then went on to manage multiple departments in various stores across the Midwest. Now he's running the show as Store Team Leader -- that's what the people at Whole Foods Market call the store manager -- at the company's highly anticipated Detroit store, which opened June 5. Larry's at the helm. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/12/food-informant-larry-austin-whole-foods-detroit_n_3385005.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Larry's diary here</a>.</strong>
Jay Isais, Senior Director Of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Nearly seven million pounds of coffee beans pass under Jay Isais's eyes and nose each year at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf's Research and Distribution facility in Camarillo, CA. Isais oversees the blending and roasting of all of those beans. Isais began his career in the early '80s with Hillside Coffee. He then held operations management and buying positions at Brother's Gourmet, Gloria Jean's, Coffee People Worldwide, and Diedrich Coffee before joining The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in 2000. Isais's primary responsibility day to day is making sure the quality of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's coffee is, as he says, "perfect from start to finish." To accomplish this, he evaluates shipments of green beans, working with Master Roaster Jesse Martinez-Beltran on finding the perfect roasts for each varietal, or blend, and tasting the brewed product. Isais also spends much of his time sourcing coffee from the finest coffee farms around the world, establishing and maintaining one-on-one relationships with coffee growers at the points of origin -- a hallmark of the company's philosophy. Isais is a founding member of the Roasters' Guild, is a volunteer instructor for the Specialty Coffee Association of America and a certified judge for the Cup of Excellence® program. He is also a licensed Q grader and an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional. Isais is additionally a judge at cupping competitions around the world, most recently the Hawaii Coffee Association's cupping competition. <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>