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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.

Sugaring will never generate a lot of money. It is more a labor of love and a chosen lifestyle. It is so labor intensive, in every aspect, that Pam and Rich can't imagine anyone doing it who didn't feel passionately about it. As their sons grew up and left home and other family members aged, Pam and Rich made improvements to the overall efficiency of their operation. They now run the entire operation on their own. Pam and Rich are in their 60s and expect to have many years of sugaring left!

Read Pam's diary below to learn about how the freakishly warm weather has impacted maple sugaring season.


Monday, March 19

6:15am: Rich is up, but I fell back to sleep. Exhausted from boiling sap into syrup every single day for a week. Maple sugaring season usually lasts from four to six weeks in March and April. Or in the case of Vermont, mud season! While snow keeps things cold during the season, the temperatures are the most important. Twenty-five degrees at night and 40 to 45 degrees during the day are ideal. The freezing and thawing pattern builds up pressure within the trees and forces the sap out the tapholes. This winter we've had no snow cover and the temperatures have not been settling into a normal pattern. They've been too warm. There is still some frost in the ground and it's colder in the woods, so the sap has still been coming in.

7:15am: The telephone wakes me up. It's a really late start to the day but lucky for me, Rich hasn't geared up yet either. He's down to the sugarhouse checking on the sap flow and the levels in the tanks so they don't overflow.

8:30am: Finally eating breakfast. Our usual, oatmeal with our own maple syrup. My breakfast is interrupted by a call from one of the members of my Marketing Committee for the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association. I'm the chair of this committee and a subcommittee is organizing the official kickoff to the season with the Governor tapping a tree on the Vermont Statehouse lawn and a maple sugar-on-snow party for the Legislators. Details need to be finalized.

9am: Rich is already at the sugarhouse. He takes our John Deere Gator down with our Beagle dog, Tapper, riding shotgun! The JD Gator is the real workhorse around this farm. Usually, we can get into the woods to check the pipelines even in the deepest snow after our larger tractor plows the sugaring roads. The front pan on the evaporator needs to be scrubbed clean every morning before we start up again. Rich is setting it up to drain and then heads for the woods to check the tubing for leaks. Our tubing system is connected to a vacuum pump so the sap is brought back quickly to the sugarhouse. Squirrels always chewi holes in the tubing. It sometimes seems like repairs are needed daily. Gauges on the lines in the woods help pinpoint when sections are in trouble.


10:30am: Put a pot of maple syrup on the stove as I need to make maple sugar bunny rabbits for a candy store order and for the weekend. Before I can turn it on, the phone rings. Have to confirm when the syrup will be ready that the Maple Association is donating to the Jr. Iron Chef Competition.

11:45am: Abandon all hope of getting anything done at the sugarhouse this morning. Walk back to the house to get lunch going.

1:45pm: Finally headed back to the sugarhouse! 71 degrees and sunny. Not good sugaring weather. Remarkably, the sap is still flowing. Rich has the reverse osmosis machine turned on and the concentrate tank is filling. I scrub and rinse the 200 gallon stainless steel tank upstairs that feeds the evaporator. As soon as I'm finished, I pump sap up into that tank so the concentrate tank will have room to fill while I scrub the front pan on the evaporator. There are minerals in the sap (called nitre or sugar sand) and a certain amount of them precipitate out during boiling, forming a scale on the bottom of the pan. It has to be scrubbed off before boiling can start again.

3pm: The pan is scrubbed, rinsed and dried. All the fittings are flushed with water and put back in place. It took me too long; the concentrate tank is full again. Have to shut down the reverse osmosis machine until I can get the evaporator fired up. Call Rich in to dump the heavy buckets of "sweet water" (partially boiled sap) back into the front pan. The back pan has sap in it all the time and only gets scrubbed above the sap line. No time to do that today! As soon as the front pan has liquid in it, I scrape the ashes into the ash pit below. Leaving ashes on the grates could cause them to warp or even break. I place an old cardboard box in on top of the grates, some crumbled newspapers and then load the arch (or firebox) with wood, the traditional fuel for making maple syrup. I put small pieces on the side where the finished syrup will draw off, large ones on the other side so the fire will catch the small ones quickly and slowly work its way across.

I double check all the valves and settings and then light the fire. In about 10 minutes, the entire evaporator is in full boil. Steam is rising through the steam stacks in the roof. It's time to turn on the sap. The sap from the tank upstairs gravity-feeds into a large back pan. Most of the evaporation takes place there. This evaporator can send 300 gallons of water per hour up and out as steam. That lets me make about 25 gallons of syrup an hour. The sap coming in from the woods is only about two percent sugar, the concentrated sap is about six to eight percent and the finished syrup is 66.7- 66.9 percent sugar, so a lot of water needs to be evaporated quickly to make syrup.

It's a continuous process once we get started, so there is a continuous flow of sap coming in from the woods. A front pan, or syrup pan, is attached to front of the back pan. The thinner sap flowing from the back pan pushes any sap that is thicker over to the last section on the side of the front pan. We have a temperature probe inserted in this section, as this is where the finished syrup will be made. The probe is connected to our automatic drawoff and when the temperature in the pan matches the one we have set for syrup, the syrup will be drawn off into a 60 gallon stainless steel vat on wheels.

4pm: Rich comes in to take over firing (putting wood in) the arch. The person running the evaporator puts wood in every six minutes for -- usually -- eight to 12 hours. Because of the extremely warm weather, the sap flow has slowed and we've only been boiling for about four to five hours a day.

4:25pm: Head back into the canning kitchen, part of our sugarhouse, to start up that pot of syrup for the bunny rabbits. I add a thermometer to the pot so I can tell when the temperature reaches 242 degrees. Usually 240 degrees is enough, but it's so warm and humid I'll remove a bit more water. I finish packing mail order packages while I wait. One package with six quarts to Colorado and another with five gallons to Texas. Our website helps us expand our customer base and keeps us in touch with existing customers.

I get the candy machine, which stirs the syrup for me, set up along with the candy molds. I'm going to pour some small maple leaf shapes along with the larger bunny rabbits for Easter. Our youngest son calls and wants to know what he and his wife can bring for the weekend. It's Vermont Maple Open House Weekend, when sugarhouses across the State will open their doors to visitors. Our family will be here to help. Have to cut our conversation short as my syrup is ready. Took about 45 minutes for the syrup to boil down and it will take close to an hour to finish pouring the candies.


5:48pm: Finish the candies. They will sit in the rubber molds on racks to cool and harden until tomorrow. Rich is shutting down the evaporator. We slowly let the fire die down and then run the rest of the sap into the pans for cooling.

6:30pm: Head to the house for supper. We have a light evening meal. Seem to sleep better. Tonight it's an egg sandwich with turkey bacon.

7:10pm: Rich heads back to the sugarhouse to can the syrup we made earlier. About 100 gallons. It will be graded for color and flavor, checked for proper density or thickness and then filtered. As we're making the syrup, we can it into 40 gallon stainless steel barrels and put them into our walk-in cooler to preserve the fresh flavor of the syrup.

10:45pm: Rich still isn't home. I call to check on him. The syrup needs to be filtered in order to remove the nitre or sugar sand. The mineral deposits that form that scale on the bottom of the pan also cloud the syrup. We are making commercial, or "C" grade, syrup, which is very, very dark. Even though we are pushing it through filter papers under pressure, it is still going very slowly. Rich is tired and frustrated, but has to see it through while it is hot. It has to be at least 185 degrees to can properly. There's nothing I can do to help so I'm giving up. I feed the cat and head for bed.

Tuesday, March 20

7:30am: Slept right through our usual 6am wake up time. Rich heads for the sugarhouse. We can't get really enthused as it is so sunny and too warm AGAIN. 48 degrees. Should be 25 degrees. I'd really love this weather if it was May! The Official Governor's Tree Tapping Ceremony and Sugar-on-Snow Party for the Legislators is today in Montpelier. It seems ironic that the governor is kicking off the season and it may be close to ending.

9:00am: Head for the sugarhouse. Rich is making batches of maple cream. A great spread for toast, waffles, English muffins and warm cinnamon buns or donuts.
12:13pm: Back to the house to get lunch. Today we're having pork chops with an apple maple glaze (so easy to make!), mashed potatoes and leftover cabbage salad. It's 69 degrees and sunny. Bright blue sky without a cloud in sight. There are so many birds all singing so loudly. No mud season at all! Unheard-of for this time of year!

2:30pm: Headed back to the sugarhouse. The temperature has soared to 78 degrees! Hate to think about standing in front of that roaring fire. Clean the upstairs tank as soon as I get there as the RO machine is already running.

3:00pm: The evaporator is all fired up and boiling.

4:10pm: I'm roasting! Rich comes in to take over so I can pack my mail order packages. Had to wait for the jam to cool or I would have done them earlier. A neighbor stops by to see how things are going.

5:45pm: Put the RO machine on wash cycle, let the evaporator finish cooling down and head to the house for supper. It looks like it's Grape Nuts cereal tonight. Almost too hot to eat!

6:30pm: Rich and Tapper the dog head back to the sugarhouse to see how the evaporator is cooling, put the RO machine on rinse cycle and take a ride over on the "Homestead" land to run another support wire for a line that's sagging with all the heat.

10:00pm: Feed the cat and head for bed. Haven't had to run the woodstove to keep the house warm. Took the down comforter off the bed as it's really warm.

Wednesday, March 21

6:00am: I'm up! Rich is still up before me, but going to bed early must have helped. Rich calls from the door for me to come and see a whole flock of bluebirds! I've never seen a whole flock of them and they were absolutely gorgeous!

6:45am: On my way to the sugarhouse. The sun is just coming up. I get the pan draining and then start on the salad dressing. Only enough olive oil and vinegar for six cases. It seems like a lot of sugarmakers are calling it quits for the season. Send out a notice through the Association Secretary that anyone who is not going to be open for Maple Open House Weekend should let us know so we can put a note to that effect by their name on the website. Let the person in charge of the Association website know what we will need to do.

9:30am: Put the candies in a thickened maple syrup so that they will get a maple crystal coating on them to increase their shelf.

10:00am: Waiting for Rich to flush the system before I wash the tank upstairs. He's been busy washing the large tanks outside. Each holds 1,250 gallons. I once tried to wash them myself, but I got stuck inside!

11:45am: Had a couple of customers stop by and some phone calls inquiring if we would be open this weekend. Finish cleaning the pan and head for the house to get lunch. Roasted chicken legs with a sundried tomato and basil seasoning, baked potatoes and butternut squash baked with maple syrup and cinnamon.

The sap is coming in so slowly there really isn't enough to boil yet. It's milky from the hot weather. It spoils quickly. We decide not to boil. We'll dump what there is on the ground. Yesterday may have been our last boil of the season. We have half a crop at this point: about 1,100 gallons. Rich has been using the lull in boiling to do some more work in the woods.

1:30pm: Back at the sugarhouse. Take the racks of candies out of the thickened syrup. Separate the racks and stand the candies on edge to drain. Clean the tank upstairs while I'm waiting and pack the rest of the items for an order to be delivered Friday.

2:00pm: The candies are ready to be racked for drying. Each one has to have the excess syrup patted off with a damp towel. It is tedious work.

4:00pm: On the road to BJ's, a discount food warehouse in Saratoga, NY, to pick up more supplies for the weekend. I can't believe we actually have the air conditioning on in the Tahoe in March!

6:30pm: Decide to eat at one of the local restaurants. They've redecorated since our last visit. They're really evil -- they've installed a dark chocolate fountain! Small cherry coconut macaroons on a stick are just too tempting to resist.

9:00pm: Unload our supplies and hear the peeper frogs in the small pond out back. We look at each other with foreboding. Usually their shrill chorus heralds the end to another sugaring season

Thursday, March 22

6:00am: The warm temperatures continue -- 54 degrees at 6am!

7:30am: Head for the sugarhouse. I never tire of that walk -- especially in the morning -- from the house to the sugarhouse. It just puts you right in the midst of all of nature's glory. I start a batch of small candies. I should have over 1,000 of them in stock before the weekend. Do some mail order packages while I wait for the syrup to boil down. I want to make pancake mix but all the syrup must be out of the room before I can start that. Rich has been canning syrup almost every day in order to have enough sizes in all the different grades done up for the weekend. We usually have about 700 to 800 people come through for Open House.

8:00am: I discover that we are short on pancake mix supplies. Rich heads for the restaurant supply warehouse about 20 miles away, for supplies. Tapper is happy to catch a ride in the air conditioning. It's been too hot for even him.

10:00am: The candy is in the molds and hardening. Rich is putting the finishing touches on a display outside showing different taps, tubing and buckets. He's replaced the old beams holding up the lean-to roof along the side of the sugarhouse with maple tree logs. It looks great! He gets syrup going to can small maple leaf bottles for favors at the Rotary Club's Community Dinner and quart jugs for the Chamber of Commerce's Saturday morning pancake breakfast. I almost forgot that we need glass leaf bottles in graduated sizes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards at the 5K Run on Saturday.

11:45am: Finished canning syrups. Head for the house to get lunch. We need something quick so we can get back to work. I always have some chicken cutlets that I can cook frozen. We have those, along with mashed potatoes and fresh steamed broccoli and a few home-canned pickled beets.

12:30pm: We're headed back to the sugarhouse. Rich decides to do some extra canning. I pack some more mail order packages and take the candies out of the molds and put them on the racks to dry.

2:00pm: Finish with the candies. Rich is back at the house making the custom labels for the Rotary Club's syrups and the ones to be used as prizes. I start labeling shaker jars for maple sugar sprinkles and pure granulated maple sugar.

3:00pm: Our friend from New Jersey shows up and wants to help. Unfortunately, there are those dishes from yesterday but he doesn't seem to mind. With all the syrup put away I can have Rich help me drag out all the heavy bags of flour, etc. for the pancake mix.

4:30pm: Ed is finishing the dishes, all the ingredients for the pancake mix is out and Rich suggests we go to the local pub for a bite to eat. I think he's ready for a beer!

7:15pm: I'm headed back to the sugarhouse to make the pancake mix. I start with the sugarhouse mix first, as it doesn't contain any dairy. I place a large plastic bag over the mixer to keep as much flour as possible out of the air. The sugarhouse is our most popular variety, so I make 100 pounds of it and place it in tightly sealed plastic food grade buckets. Next I switch to our buttermilk mix. I found a whole bucket of this mix when I was looking for empty buckets, so I'll only make 40 pounds of this mix. That will get me out of the sugarhouse before midnight.

Friday, March 23

8:15am: I'm on the way to the sugarhouse. I get busy cleaning up the evaporator room. There is always a film of ash on the top of the steam hoods to clean off, the outside of the pans need to wiped down and the inside edge of the back pan gets a wipe-off.

9:25am: I don't get to finish cleaning, because they show up wanting the stuff for the Rotary. I had emailed that it would be ready for pickup at noon. Since they are here, I get 30 pounds of pancake mix bagged up for the pancake breakfast and the syrups are ready for the breakfast and the Rotary. The prizes aren't ready because we need another set. Apparently, they forgot to tell us that there is a women's division and a men's division. We'll can up more by noon. Also I need two baskets, one for the 1st prize in the maple bake-off and one for the guest speaker at the Rotary Dinner. And an item for the silent auction. I get working on those right away.

10:30am: Ed and his girlfriend show up and Rich puts them right to work bagging pancake mix. I package up the maple sugar bunny rabbits and load the car with deliveries.

11:00am: I put the candies in to coat and head for town. I work my way along Main Street. First the Post Office, then the Bank, Shaw's supermarket for sandwich rolls, a delivery to the co-op food market, the bunny rabbits to the candy store and then back up to the discount food store for sandwich meats, vegetables and milk.

12:15pm: Return to the sugarhouse and unload the supplies needed there. It seems so odd not to have to boil sap. Usually, the week before Open House Weekend, we barely have time to remember our own names.

3:00pm: Rich helps me get the seven racks of small maple leaf candies out of the coating pot. I stand them all up to drain and get my drying racks ready.

3:30pm: Rich's parents arrive. They haven't been up for ages. His Mom starts boxing candies. Our friends arrive later and help her with the candies. By now I've started patting the candies off. Rich and Ed head for the house to start supper. Rich has brined his own corned beef. It's delicious and has to cook for quite some time. They'll add whole potatoes, onions and cabbage as the cooking progresses. The baby carrots will get steamed separately.

5:30pm: I'm finally finishing the candies and get all the racks washed. Rich came back down and got out the cotton candy machine.

6:30pm: The table is set and the feast begins. Delicious! Mom insists on washing the dishes! The rest of us relax in the living room. We're too tired even to play cards.

9:30pm: Our youngest son, his wife, two beagle dogs and the neighbors and their white dust mop of a dog arrive. Shortly after, our older son, his wife and their boxer dog arrive. It's so great to have them all here.

Saturday, March 24

4:30am: Rich is already at the sugarhouse making his famous maple cinnamon buns frosted with our own pure maple cream.


6:00am: I head for the sugarhouse. I figure when one of those buns cools that will be breakfast enough with a large glass of orange juice. Everyone else will fend for themselves as they get up at the house. I start right in cleaning in the arch room what I didn't finish yesterday. The friend of ours who came with our son helps scrub the stainless steel tables and counters. Before we know it we're done and ready to hose down and scrub the floor.

8:30am: By now, the sugarhouse is a beehive of activity. Everyone has participated in Open House before and they all know what to do. The shelves are being stocked and arranged in the sales room, warm buns are being frosted, coffee is brewing, dishes are washed. Even the girl up the road is here, brushing my horse and braiding her mane. She does a school project every year that involves the horses and gives a little presentation to anyone who wanders down the lane to the horse pasture. Her Mom and brother are getting the cotton candy machine ready to make maple cotton candy. Our oldest son and his wife are getting syrup cooking so it will be the right consistency for maple sugar-on-snow (shaved ice). A traditional Vermont treat! Rich, Ed and my father-in-law are busy bringing in wood so there will be an ample supply for boiling.

9:30am: More help arrives: my youngest son's mother-in-law, our friends from the next town and Rich's cousin. He'll be in charge of boiling today so I can give the tour of the evaporator room. He sugared when he was a boy but other than boiling for us on Open House Weekend he doesn't do it anymore. He says this weekend is like reliving his childhood.

10:00am: We open the doors. The evaporator is steaming and everyone is ready. The weather has cooled a bit. It's in the 50s but partly sunny. People begin to arrive but at a much slower pace than usual.

3:00pm: It remained steady throughout the day but slow overall. We couldn't help but be disappointed. It is so much work getting ready and then this seems like such a letdown.

4:00pm: We're closed for the day. The evaporator is cooling down and we're evaluating the day. Everyone agrees that it was the slowest Open House Weekend on record.

5:15pm: Everyone heads downtown to the Senior Citizens Center for a maple-glazed roast pork dinner with mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, baby carrots, applesauce and homemade rolls. There was maple walnut ice cream with fresh maple syrup for dessert. Poultney has a maple festival going on in the downtown all day and the general consensus was that there weren't as many people around town as usual either.

6:15pm: We say "good evening" to our helpers in the parking lot and our family heads for home to get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

6:30pm: We're home in the living room again, with a floor covered in sleepy dogs, having some good conversation. It seems so good to have the family together.

Sunday, March 25

5:00am: Rich heads for the sugarhouse to make more of his maple cinnamon buns.

6:00am: I head down to the sugarhouse to see if I can help with anything. He agrees to come back around 8am and make pancakes for the whole family.

8:00am: The griddle is hot and the batter is mixed. Everyone is up and Rich starts making pancakes. The fresh maple syrup pours freely and there's no better breakfast around here, unless you have time to add some fresh blueberries to the pancakes!

9:30am: Ed arrives to gather the purchases that his friends and neighbors in New Jersey have asked him to bring back. He has a long trip ahead, so says goodbye. Everyone else is busy getting things ready in a repeat of yesterday. Everyone knows that Sunday is usually the slower of the two days but we're still hopeful. The weather is not as nice. It's gotten rather cool and raw with a drizzle now and then.

3:00pm: We worked hard all day, but there were very few people and long stretches of nothing to do but eat! The boys from up the road had a great time making maple cotton candy though. I think they will be in sugar shock for a week after all they ate! Everyone loved the maple sugar-on-snow. Our sons and Rich's parents head home early, as they all have quite a ways to go.

4:00pm: As we close the doors and cool down the evaporator, we realize that it doesn't really matter that the weekend was a disappointment. We just had the most wonderful weekend filled with incredible camaraderie with family and friends. That's what gets you through the hard times.

5:15pm: We're back at the house with our friends from the next town. Supper is waiting for us. Our youngest son put a moose roast, compliments of their neighbor, in the crock pot with potatoes and onions. We steam some fresh broccoli and sit down to the most delicious pot roast imaginable.

7:00pm: They leave. I leave the dishes and we watch a funny, mindless movie while one tired Beagle (probably in sugar shock from being fed maple cotton candy by kids) lays on top of us, and then we head for bed.

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    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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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 She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Kevin, and two cat companions, Bo and Henry. <strong><a href="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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 <strong><a href="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" target="_hplink">Read Shawn's diary here.</a></strong>

  • Andrew Zimmern

    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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" 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="" target="_hplink">Read Emiliano's diary here.</a></strong>