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.
As president of Slow Food USA, Josh Viertel is working to create a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the planet, and good for the people who grow, pick and prepare it – good, clean and fair food. Josh previously co-founded and co-directed the Yale Sustainable Food Project at Yale University. The project transformed the University’s cafeteria to a menu based on sustainable, local foods, built an organic farm on campus, and developed food and agriculture curriculum and programs for undergraduates. Prior to his work at Yale, Josh started Mamabrook Farm, a small organic vegetable farm that provided food to local restaurants and farmers’ markets. Josh graduated from Harvard University with degrees in Philosophy and Literature. In 2010, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Josh is dedicated to building a social movement that can transform our relationship to food and farming. He may be reached via email or Twitter.
Read more to learn about Josh's experiences at the Slow Food USA National Congress, and his love for bluegrass music.
Sunday, April 8
8:00am: My fiancé Juliana and I moved to Wingdale, NY this past fall. We used to have a farm together, and we missed it when we were living in Brooklyn. Now it is a 2.5 hour commute to Slow Food USA's offices, so Sundays are pretty special. Particularly the mornings. Nettle tea, some grits with nettle tips and an egg. Juliana has puh-er tea. I can't do the caffeine. It makes me mean.
10:30am: Checking out the field I tilled up about 10 days ago. I want to get out and till it again, but it isn't ready yet. It was all nettles and horseradish. Nasty perennial weeds. Delicious but pernicious. This first year, I'll be tilling most of it every couple weeks, just to beat back the weeds. Then I'll plant a crop of buckwheat, which smothers the weeds (when you till it in, buckwheat also releases something that keeps weed seeds from germinating). Then it will go to clover or other cover crops to build the soil. The thing is, it hasn't been raining. So the weed seeds I want to abuse haven't germinated, and roots of the nettles and horseradish (and grass and golden rod and milkweed, etc.) haven't rotted enough to make tilling them worthwhile. So I just poke around a little.
11:00am: Chainsaw. This thing is really cool. But also really dangerous. I only use it when I'm really awake. I prune back some branches that were damaged by the big snow storm last October. Then I take down some scraggly trees that are in the way of a little orchard we are setting up. Satisfying but loud.
12:30pm: Juliana and I are wandering around, trying to figure out exactly where to plant what trees. We've got a bucket of limestone we are using to mark the potential locations And a tape measure and a string. Walking back and forth, then making a white, powdery circle. Standing back, scratching our heads, rubbing out the circle with our feet. We must look completely nuts from the road.
2:30pm: We didn't realize how hungry we are. Peanut butter spoon. Honey. Interpersonal disaster averted. Quick plans made. Masseca Water. Cheese. Sriracha. Homemade quesadillas.
3:00pm: Neighbors Amanda and Cory stop by to announce that they have discovered a mess of ramps, and they want to eat them with us for dinner. We give them horseradish and nettle tips. As though we are being generous.
3:30pm: I remember I have some pork belly in the freezer. A gift from Blue Hill Restaurant and Stone Barns Center. And I just saw a David Chang recipe for belly. Sounds good with their ramps. I defrost it.
5:30pm: Someone previously planted all the trees and plants in odd locations where we moved. So we want to move them. But moving big plants isn't like moving furniture. Plants have roots. We spend a few hours sweating, trying to dig up two big quince plants that are right where a path should be. They have incredible root systems. The grassroots movement to change food and farming is not adequate. We need a quinceroot movement. My lord. Finally, they are relocated. We are tired.
6:00pm: Pork belly in oven.
6:30pm: Smoke. Followed the recipe (almost). Burned the crap out of the pork belly. I curse David, not because I dislike him but because I know he likes cursing. Defrost sausages to substitute.
7:30pm: Dinner with Amanda and Corey. Ramps cooked in pork fat with some bits of burned pork belly. Sausages. Polenta from a mill up the road. Nettle tips. One of the best things about moving to the country is having neighbors. They lent me a circular saw. I gave them horseradish. They fed us delicious ramps. I gave them stinging nettles. I'm not keeping up my end of the bargain. We are trying to be generous, but we don't have the garden set up yet...I hope we'll get some good produce to them before they kick us out of the neighborhood.
10:00pm: Walk home under a big moon carrying gifted plants. Laugh. Sleep.
Monday, April 9
8:00am: Mondays I work from home, so I can block off time to write and talk to Slow Food chapter leaders on the phone. Polenta for breakfast. Juliana bemoans that we are out of milk. We are blessed with great milk. Raw. From the Shunpike Dairy up the road. You bring a mason jar and fill it with milk, then drop a little cash in their mason jar. No cashier. No one to make change (just rummage around the jar). I trust them to make extraordinary milk. They trust me to leave them the right amount of money when I go. But now we are out.
9:00am: Draft opening remarks for Slow Food USA's National Congress. This is the one time every four years that our leaders convene in person to make key strategic decisions, share experiences and skills, and most importantly, break bread. It will be in Louisville, KY this weekend. We will also have a board meeting, and a meeting of our regional governors (these folks coordinate the local chapters in 20 regions across the country). In addition to breaking bread, I think it's likely we'll be passing around the mason jar. No raw milk in it though. Raw milk might not be legal there...
1:30pm: Leftovers for lunch. Funny, I haven't yet gotten tired of ramps or nettle tips. It's the only thing we've got going for us right now.
2:00pm: Jump on a call with the finance committee from Slow Food USA's Board. Time to talk money and to get ready for the conference in Louisville.
3:00pm: Got to talk with Gerry Warren. Gerry is one of the original leaders of Slow Food in the U.S., and has been instrumental in saving the Makah Ozette potato. They lost the bulk of their seed crop to flooding and have been working to build it up for three years. Gerry is going to give me a few potatoes to plant out when I see him in Louisville.
4:15pm: Juliana heads over to Bloomingfield Farm to meet some new neighbors. They've got sheep and she spins. They just sheared the sheep, so she went and got some great wool.
4:30pm: We live in a tiny old post and beam barn with a sleeping loft. Out of the corner of my eye, I see our cat fall off of the balcony and hit the floor. Not graceful. She is, miraculously, unharmed. When Juliana returns, she has beautiful fleece. Not sure if she believes me about the cat.
6:30pm: I till the spots we marked for the trees so it will be easier to dig holes for them. We'll be planting a little bit of everything, but I'm particularly excited for apples. Long storing, good tasting, old varieties. Esopus Spitzenburg. (An apple variety that shows up in Melvill'es Bartleby). Grimes Golden. Ashmead's Kernel. Northern Spy.
7:00pm: Pasta with nettles. Experimented with cooking the nettles directly in oil instead of steeping them in boiling water first. They were really good before. Now they're extraordinary.
8:00pm: Pack for upcoming trip. Remember to bring some jam from last summer to share with folks I meet. We will be swapping foods from home. Maybe Gerry will get my jam in return for the Makah Ozette potatoes.
Tuesday, April 10
7:10am: On train. Tired. Looking out window at the Harlem Valley waking up. Time to prep for our meetings in Louisville.
9:15am: Perfect morning in Brooklyn. Stop by my friend Manny's place to drop off luggage. I stay there during the week on his couch. He has managed to find a way to live in Brooklyn and make beautiful wooden furniture almost as though he lives in the country.
10:00am: Morning full of meetings. High energy as we get prepped for Louisville. It's nice to know that leaders all over the country are packing their bags, trying to remember to bring their Makah Ozette potato or peach jam equivalent.
1:00pm: I do a few media interviews about Slow Food's A Thousand Gardens in Africa. This is a project Slow Food Leaders in Africa started to prove that African food security, and food sovereignty is not reliant on genetically modified seeds from multinational corporations. It's also raising pride and awareness about native plant varieties, medicinal herbs and local knowledge. With support from around the world, they are building gardens that prove the point.
2:00pm: Sit down for lunch with staff. No more nettles! Baked potato. Cress salad. Sorta miss the nettles.
3:00pm: Meet with Senior Leadership Team to start planning spring staff retreats.
4:30pm: Pack up computer, files and notes for work trip. Hungry. Still have a lot to do.
7:30pm: Subway to Lot 2 Restaurant to meet an old friend. I used to live around the corner, and I miss it. It feels like home. Maybe my favorite place for dinner in Brooklyn. They buy really good ingredients from local farmers and they don't mess them up. They even make them better. And they're wonderful people. Catch up with my old friend Jesse Adelman who is a new dad. And a great songwriter, singer and guitar player. I used to play with him in high school His band, The Telephones, just recorded a new album and he gave me a copy. It's great and I'm jealous he's still playing music seriously.
Wednesday, April 11
9:00am: Waking up in Brooklyn. Warm everything bagel from The Bagel Hole. (Hands down best bagel place in Brooklyn. Small, handmade, not squishy or sweet, just right.) Horns and trash trucks. Bouncy ride to LaGuardia to check into my flight. Wonder how the garden plot looks this morning and whether those quinces we moved are gonna make it.
2:00pm: Land in Louisville.
4:00pm: Meet with two of our new Board members, Matt Jones and John Stewart; Matt has been a long-time leader and Governor for us, while John is newer to the network, but incredibly skilled and very committed to Slow Food. Glad they're both on the board.
7:00pm: Head over to join the Board of Directors for dinner at 610 Magnolia. Supposed to be one of Louisville's best farm-to-table restaurants. Food is great, but I am tired from travel, so I skip dessert and head home.
Thursday, April 12
9:00am: Attend all day, spring Board meeting. Confidential. Sorry HuffPo, but it's a board meeting. Let's just say it was full of intense but extremely productive discourse about how Slow Food can best serve the food movement.
7:30pm: Maggie Keith (co-leader of our local Slow Food Bluegrass chapter) and her mother Janey Newton (a long-time supporter of Slow Food USA) host us for dinner at their family's extraordinary biodynamic farm -- Foxhollow. Foxhollow features grass-fed beef, vegetables and greenhouses. Education programs too. They have lots of folks in partnership in a sort of farming community. Together they work 1,300-acres in Crestwood, right outside Louisville. It's a truly special place.
8:30pm: Eating beef from the farm, salad from the greenhouses, and talking about Rudolf Steiner, biodynamic preparations and Waldorf Education. Years ago I worked on a biodynamic farm outside of Palermo in Sicily, and since then I've always been drawn towards them.
Friday, April 13
7:30am: This morning I'm going to finish up our board meeting, prep for the Congress opening and see off a large group of our leaders who are going on a Food Justice Tour of Louisville. Thanks to New Roots, Food Literacy Project and The People's Garden Project, they'll be visiting neighborhoods and projects in the Greater Louisville area that are working to increase access and to raise awareness for sustainable food systems. It'll help them do similar work in their areas, and set the right tone for the weekend.
3:45pm: National Congress is about to start. Mayor Greg Fischer arrives to help us kick off the festivities. The Mayor has helped to do some great work here, with the city's Farm to Table Program, and overall with good food culture and community commitment to farmers. Funny, because Louisville is also the national headquarters for Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. Highest density of fast food restaurants in the country. But a vibrant food movement too.
7:30pm: Heading to a Farm to City Party at Creation Gardens Market Hall. A handful of excellent chefs who give back to their community are making it happen. The two leading the charge are Slow Food Southeast Regional Governor Mark Williams and Michel Nischan of The Dressing Room and Wholesome Wave. Wholesome Wave is doing some great work to improve access and affordability of fresh, local food in several states. The organization partners with community-embedded organizations to implement its programs, including their Double Value Coupon Program that helps folks use food stamps at farmers markets.
Saturday, April 14
1:00am: Okay. That was awesome. Great food. Great people. But then, great music. I sat in with the band, Maiden Radio, and played some bluegrass. (Most folks don't know this but I used to be in a bluegrass band. No BS. Here's a clip of me playing at a festival in Owensboro, KY, Mutton barbecue capital of the world, with my old band The Professors of Bluegrass.) Surprised folks to see me up there.
Then Mark Williams staged a race between two chefs and a live band playing Lynyrd Skynyrd. Challenge: Cook a three-course meal faster than the band can play Free Bird. The chefs did it. Cooking doesn't take as long as people think. Though Free Bird is pretty long...THEN, everybody leaves but me and the musicians. And we hang on the porch picking fiddle tunes and bluegrass and blues until late. The mayor stops by. Folks stop on the sidewalk to listen to the free show. It's the first time in a long time I've been able to just communicate with music. I feel like I'm on vacation. Bass player and banjo player give me a ride home cause our buses left hours ago.
9:15am: Tired from last night. Going to weave in and out of workshops.
3:45pm: Wrapped up a great session run by Angelines Moncha Alba Lamb from Slow Food's team on what biodiversity in the food system looks like, and what we can do to grow it.
7:30pm: Afternoon spent in conversation with leaders about work ahead. Leave for Woodland Farm and a traditional Kentucky-style farmside cookout Woodland Farm is owned by Steve Wilson (co-leader of Slow Food Bluegrass) and his wife Laura Lee Brown; it's a working bison farm in Goshen, KY. I've heard it's incredible, and can't wait to see it.
8:15pm: This place is AMAZING. Beautiful old house with incredible art in it. View of the river. Bison. And ENORMOUS sculptures of snails greeting us when we roll in.
10:00pm: The White Russians are a local bluegrass band, and they're playing in the loft of a huge barn. I sweet talk the band into loaning me a guitar, and I sit in. I sing Sitting on Top of the World, and I am. We have a blast.
Sunday, April 15
8:00am: Last day of the Congress.
10:45am: This has been an incredible closing session. Our leaders are pledging to do amazing things when they go home. One pledges to address race and class, and to build local alliances in a fractured community. Another pledges to fight for local farmers and biodiversity.
11:15am: Leah DiBernardo, Slow Food leader from Temecula, CA gets the microphone, and puts it up to her phone. An 11-year-old starts talking. She tells us how she couldn't travel to be at the Congress, but she started a Slow Food chapter at her grade school, and then started a garden for it. Now she's working to get real food into their dining hall, and she wants everyone to know that she's a part of Slow Food, and to not to forget that children can lead. Extraordinary.
12:00pm: At the food swap, I hand off my jam to Christine Schantz whose the new regional leader for Slow Food in Northern CA. She hands me some really special fig preserve. Then I head over to Gerry and he hands me a bunch of Makah Ozette potatoes for seed for my garden. Tom Colton from Lanceister County, PA approaches me with a basket. He hands me some peanuts to plant. Regular ones, but also black ones and purple ones. And he hands me some gorgeous gamay beans he smuggled from French farmers he met at Terra Madre. And he promises to send me heirloom strawberry plants. Little wild ones.
And then he hands me a spiky tuft of cotton. This cotton has beautiful green flecks in it. It's, he explains, slave cotton. On plantations, slaves were allowed to grow cotton for their own clothes, but they weren't allowed to sell it, lest they gain power through gaining money, or upset the slave owners' market. They were only allowed to grow cotton varieties flecked with color, so it could be easily identified, and wouldn't enter the market. Holding this cotton is uncomfortable. The stories behind agricultural diversity are intense. The one most people talk about is the Trail of Tears bean variety (carried by first nations people on the notorious trail of tears). But none has felt so intense, painful, and powerful as this cotton does to me. It feels like it will burn a hole in my hand. It reminds me that we're not trying to go back to a farming system from the past. We're not trying to recreate it as it was. Because it has always had suffering and oppression and environmental degradation in it. We're actually working to build something new, based on shared knowledge and our shared histories. It can't be based on forgetfulness, and this cotton is a reminder.
1:30pm: The congress is done. People are heading home. With potatoes, and bean seeds and jam. And friendships and connections to people doing like work all over the country. I can't wait to get home, seed the potatoes, plant Tom's strawberry plants, and build on those relationships. Juliana texts me that the field is ready to till again, and some fruit trees have arrived that need to be planted.
To close the Congress, two young Slow Food Chapter leaders, Meghan McDermott and Maddie Halpert, donned berets and recited the Slow Food Manifesto. Every time they said something about fast food or the industrial food system, folks booed and hissed. Every time they said "Slow Food," folks cheered. It is a little tradition we have. I suggest you try it next time you get a group of people together over dinner. Don't forget the berets. Here it is:
The Slow Food Manifesto
The Slow Food international movement officially began when delegates from 15 countries endorsed this manifesto, written by founding member Folco Portinari, on December 10, 1989.
Our century, which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilization, first invented the machine and then took it as its life model.
We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods.
To be worthy of the name, Homo Sapiens should rid himself of speed before it reduces him to a species in danger of extinction.
A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life.
May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.
Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food.
Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.
In the name of productivity, Fast Life has changed our way of being and threatens our environment and our landscapes. So Slow Food is now the only truly progressive answer.
That is what real culture is all about: developing taste rather than demeaning it. And what better way to set about this than an international exchange of experiences, knowledge, projects?
Slow Food guarantees a better future.
Slow Food is an idea that needs plenty of qualified supporters who can help turn this (slow) motion into an international movement, with the little snail as its symbol.
See more Food Informants below:
Ann Cooper, School Lunch Reformer
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York, Ann Cooper has been a chef for more than 30 years including positions with Holland America Cruises, Radisson Hotels, Telluride Ski Resort as well as serving as Executive Chef at the renowned Putney Inn in Vermont. She has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Time Magazine and has appeared on NPR's 'Living on Earth,' ABC's Nightline, CNN, PBS' To The Contrary and the CBS Morning Show and many other media outlets. Ann has shared her knowledge and experience by speaking at the Smithsonian Institute, the National Restaurant Association, the Heifer Foundation, Chefs Collaborative, the International Association of Culinary Professionals and numerous conferences. She has been honored by SLOW Food USA, selected as a Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, and awarded an honorary doctorate from SUNY Cobleskill for her work on sustainable agriculture. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/09/ann-cooper_n_4038062.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Ann's diary here</a>.</strong>
Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Master Distiller
Harlen Wheatley has been the Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery since 2005. Born in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, in 1969, Harlen has spent almost all of his life in the Bluegrass. After relocating and spending much of his youth in Florence, KY, Harlen attended Northern Kentucky University, attaining his degree in chemistry. He then migrated to work full-time at a chemical company in Central Kentucky while completing a chemical engineering degree at the University of Kentucky, gaining formal training in distillation and separation techniques. Harlen joined the Distillery as a supervisor in 1995. Not long after, the Distillery was rechristened and the flagship Buffalo Trace Bourbon was introduced. It marked a new era in the Distillery's esteemed history and Harlen continued to make his mark as he was promoted to Distillery Manager in 2000. Harlen was named Master Distiller in 2005, becoming Buffalo Trace's sixth Master Distiller since the Civil War. Having worked in every aspect of production from raw materials to barrel aging, as Master Distiller, Harlen has driven many initiatives, including solidifying standards and consistency, quality focus and efficiency gains. He is active in overseeing a number of distilling and aging operations in various locations, all while promoting and educating the public on bourbon whiskeys. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/25/food-informants-harlen-wheatley_n_3977285.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Harlen's diary here</a>.</strong>
AvroKO, Restaurant Design Firm
New York-headquartered design-and concept firm AvroKO is equally adept at the varied disciplines of architecture, furniture, graphics and even fashion. AvroKO's four partners -- William Harris, Greg Bradshaw, Kristina O'Neal, and Adam Farmerie -- each contribute a unique vision to the firm's multifaceted design mission. The four principals first met at University and officially joined forces to design a client's company from top to bottom, bringing their distinct design backgrounds to bear on the process. Since its creation, AvroKO has grown to a staff of over 46 in its NYC office, 20 in its Bangkok office, and 5 in its recently opened San Francisco office. Their active portfolio of architecture projects, including restaurants, bars, hotels, and retail, are taking place currently in 7 countries and 15 cities worldwide. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/avroko_n_3901286.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read AvroKO's diary here</a>.</strong>
Ryan Sutton, Food Critic
Ryan Sutton wishes he were at a Russian bathhouse right now, steaming his face with a bowl of spicy Georgian lamb soup before hitting the banya for some 220F shvitzing. Instead, he's holed up in midtown Manhattan, fact checking an upcoming price increase at one of New York's most expensive restaurants. Such is the life of Bloomberg News' New York food critic and the founding editor of The Price Hike and The Bad Deal. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/11/food-informants-ryan-sutton_n_3900164.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Ryan's diary here</a>.</strong>
Stella Rankin, Partner At Pinch Food Design Catering
Stella Rankin is a partner of start-up catering company Pinch Food Design. She was recently nominated for the Bizbash Readers Choice Award for Best Caterer in New York City. Originally from Australia, she lives in NYC, has two Pomeranians, and is a big fan of Broadway. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/04/stella-rankin-pinch-food-design_n_3832164.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Stella's diary here</a>.</strong>
Peter Kim, Executive Director Of The Museum Of Food & Drink
Peter Kim became the Executive Director of the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in May 2012. Before that, he served as counsel to the museum as an attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. As a Peace Corps volunteer, he founded and directed a rural arts-based public health program in Central Africa. He also served as an Emerson Fellow for the Congressional Hunger Center and worked at the USDA, where he advised state agencies on food stamp outreach. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/food-informants-museum-food-drink_n_3823618.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Peter's diary here</a>.</strong>
Chef Quinn Hatfield, Training For A Cycling Competition
Quinn Hatfield has worked with David Bouley, Wolfgang Puck and Jean-Georges Vongerichten before helming his own kitchen in 2003. In 2006, Quinn and his wife Karen opened Hatfield's -- Karen designed the space, Quinn assembled the kitchen equipment and together they created the menus. In July 2012, the Hatfields opened their newest project, The Sycamore Kitchen: a hip, neighborhood eatery for house crafted, seasonally focused fare, and sweet and savory rustic pastries. When not in the kitchen, Hatfield enjoys outdoor sports including surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding and rock climbing. He is currently training with his Olympic coach and competing in track cycling events, with credits including placing 5th in the men's kilometer time trial at the 2012 USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships and two "top 20" and "top 10" finishes in the Elite National Championships. The Hatfields have two young children, daughter Paige, and son Bennett. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/07/quinn-hatfield_n_3688869.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Quinn's diary here</a>.</strong>
Jay Gilbertson & Ken Seguine, Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil Founders
Jay Gilbertson and Ken Seguine produce the first pumpkin seed oil made in the U.S.. With a strong commitment to create jobs in their local community, the long-term vision is for Northwest Wisconsin to become known as where America's pumpkin seed oil is produced. The oil works as a vinaigrette salad dressing, bread dip, or drizzled on soups, cooked vegetables, popcorn or even ice cream. Jay is an author of the Madeline Island series, and is from Eau Claire, WI. Ken is from Los Angeles. The couple has been together 18 years. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/24/food-informants-pumpkin-seed-oil_n_3604767.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read their diary here</a>.</strong>
Izetta Chambers, Alaska Salmon Fisherman
Company founder and managing member Izetta Chambers is the driving force behind Naknek Family Fisheries. She organized the LLC in October 2006 and has been managing it seasonally since that time. Izetta is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 2008. Izetta serves as the MAP Agent/Assistant Professor for the Marine Advisory Program, an extension partnership between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant program. Izetta lives in Dillingham with her husband, Chet, their children, Noah and Lovina. Izetta (a.k.a. "the fish lady") has participated in the Bristol Bay fishery since the age of 9 years old, when she began setnet salmon fishing with her brother, Everett Thompson. <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>