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.

January 2010 found Dan Earnest and Carrie Megginson moving in to their picturesque farmhouse in the beautiful South Central Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. In the spring, they acquired their first Tamworth cross piglets and began dedicating their time to raising the happiest, pastured, heritage-breed pigs in the region. Their passion for great pork, ethically produced, has been an unbelievable learning experience -- as well as a source of pride and joy. And no, neither Carrie nor Dan had farmed before they chose to jump in at the deep end of sustainable agriculture.

Read more to learn about how Carrie cares for her pigs and tries to grow her small business.

Monday, April 23

4:38am: One of the cats wakes me. I let her in and settle into a doze on the sofa by the front door. In a few more minutes, another of the cats is asking to be let in. The deep front porch shelters me from the worst of the weather, but the wind is blowing and there's a wet, snowy sleet falling.

6:15am: All four cats receive a tiny serving of the raw milk we buy from our neighbors up the road at Hidden Hills Dairy. Hidden Hills uses most of the milk from their Jersey cow herd to make artisanal raw milk cheeses. As a courtesy, they also provide milk to customers who sign waivers acknowledging their awareness of the dangers of drinking unpasteurized milk. Our farm has an arrangement to collect waste whey from Hidden Hills for our herd of pastured pigs. The whey adds protein and valuable amino acids to our Tamworth cross swine feeding plan. In addition, whey promotes the growth of beneficial intestinal flora in all omnivores -- pigs as well as people.

6:20am: I dash through the light morning snow--it was 70° and sunny only three days ago -- to put out feed for the chickens and open up the two chicken coops just east of the farmhouse. Chickens hate being "cooped up," and they come pouring out of the coops in twos and threes when I open their doors. They spend their days here wandering at will looking for bugs and tasty plants.

7:45am: As I finish tidying the kitchen, I find a couple containers of quinoa salad in the fridge. They showed up at the potluck Pig Roast we hosted on Saturday. By now everyone in the house who wanted leftovers has had their fill. The quinoa salads will make a nice addition to our sows', Ruby and Garnet, breakfast. I set the salads aside.

8:30am: Coffee and top milk from my non-homogenized milk bottle, and I'm standing in the kitchen buffing away dirt and other encrustations on a couple baskets of eggs from our hens. Under 2 oz and the egg is a "medium." Two oz to 2.25 oz and the egg is large, 2.3 oz or more and the egg is extra-large.

9:15am: I call up the stairs to let Dan know our farmhand, Sebastiaan Zijp, is waiting outside to run breakfast to the pigs in the pastures. While the men look after the big pigs, I have another cup of coffee and phone my mother to say hey.

10:30am: I've had phone calls from two of the folks with whom we're working closely to form a producers' co-op for marketing our best agricultural goods down in the premium markets of DC and Baltimore. Though we're located in Pennsylvania, we're 140 miles through the mountains to Pittsburgh, and more than 200 miles to Philadelphia. DC is fewer than 125 miles from our farm, and Baltimore is only five miles more.

1:00pm: I fix a sandwich of herbed tofu fried in pork drippings adorned with homemade pimiento cheese and coleslaw on a toasted burger bun. I just love leftovers. While I eat, I read a few pages of "Guns, Germs and Steel."

2:30pm: Out to the barn to check on Ruby and Garnet and their nine piglets. Despite the cooler weather, everyone looks just fine. Lancelot "Tiny" Tamworth is the breakout crowd pleaser on the Facebook page. I get a picture of him napping in a piggy pile to post for the faithful followers. He's the cute little blonde one in the middle.

Napping Tamworth Cross Piglets, Tiny in the middle

4:19pm: I get a call returned from a fellow farmer. She's opening a farm-to-table restaurant along the Lincoln Highway and she wants one of our pigs on a whole-hog basis. We settle on a date for slaughter, and work out from then when she'll be able to pick up her pork. We have a pig scheduled to go off to the butcher's this week, and I remind our fearless pig-loading team that they're booked to swing into action.

6:45pm: Chickens are fed, covered hot dish is loaded into the truck, and the guys fed the pigs early this evening. Dan and I are dashing up county to a meeting for the producers' co-op. Turnout is low, but the quality of the potluck is high. We brought our Italian sausage cooked on a bed of sauerkraut. Our site hostess made a brilliant chicken pot pie. I need to find out how she does the crust. By the end of the meeting, we're all the way to selecting steering committee members.

9:25pm: The feed store put out feed for us to pick up from the loading dock, since we weren't going to be by until after they closed. We slide a check through the slot in the office door and take our 200 lbs of feed back to the farm.

Tuesday, April 24

6:05am: The cats have their milk ration, and I suit up. The temperature's at freezing when I step outside. But there's no sleety snow, or chilling wind this morning. I walk with the dog, and three out of four cats, a half mile down the road and back again. The dog is a creature of her suburban upbringing, and likes the one-to-one time with me.

6:25am: I go to the garden shed and see one of the Ameraucana chickens has gone broody. She is spending the night on her nesting site, and not safely in the coop.

Darwin has a word for chickens that make choices like hers.

9:20am: Today, I'm hungry for my breakfast: bacon from Amy, honey from the bees, biscuits with lard from Lance, and eggs from the hens. My coffee is spiked with milk from Hidden Hills Dairy. It's a good day to be a locavore.

A Locavore's Delight: Breakfast on Buckland Farm

10:40am: Dan's running errands up in town. I'm back from collecting eggs and checking on Tiny. We put off castrating him when we did his brothers -- Floyd and Wayne -- because he was just so small. Now Tiny's almost caught up with his birth cohort and the job doesn't get easier to do when the piglet is bigger.

12:30am: Fortified by fresh baguette, more of our honey and a schmear of butter, we head out. I take anchor position. When Sebastiaan brings in the piglet, he sets Tiny upside down on my lap. I wrap the piglet firmly in a sturdy old towel. Sebastiaan holds the back legs immobile. Dan wields the scalpel, making the incision which opens the skin. Then he makes a second, delicate incision which pierces the thin membrane immediately beneath the skin. Handle the second incision poorly, and there's blood and squealing piglet everywhere. The third stage is to squeeze the actual testes out, and cut the connective vas deferens. Happily, Dan knows his way around a pig castration, and we were done and packed up in fewer than ten minutes. And Tiny was running around with the piglet pack before we were gone.

3:20pm: I finish a blog post about the development of our piglets. Downstairs, Sebastiaan has pulled out the fully cooled and ripened liver pâté he made from Lucky's innards (Lucky being the star of the Pig Roast last Saturday night). I find a package of water crackers in the pantry. We indulge in yet more locally grown eats. Dan and Sebastiaan put 250 onion starts into the big garden east of the home acres. We still have flats of Cipollini starts grown from seed under lights in a garden shed. We're waiting for the weather to become less variable before we plant those.

6:30pm: Dan and Sebastiaan load our stock trailer into the north forest pigging pasture. They leave the ramp down, and feed all five pigs in a trough set by the ramp. Tomorrow morning one of the barrows, a castrated male, will head up the road to his first, and last, appointment. Wiggle and Bump are within a few pounds of each other. Either one will do for our next round of hog shares and samples for commercial accounts.

8:00pm: Steak and (Lucky's) kidney pie for dinner tonight, and Sebastiaan remembered to put in lots of peas as well as making the mashed potato topping extra rich with a few eggs beaten in.

Wednesday, April 25

6:42am: The dog refuses breakfast. Saturday night, she tried to prove she could eat her own weight in pork fat and leavin's. Instead, she's proved the opposite. She doesn't even protest when the cats take turns eating from her bowl.

7:00am: I call up the stairs to Dan. The coffee's made and he needs to get down to the barn early to prepare the chopped fruits and veggies, buckets of mash, and more buckets of water to take to the pigs in the woods. Today, one of our pigs heads off to the butcher -- and the men are on a tight timeline to get all the pigs fed, the right pig into the livestock trailer and the trailer hitched to the pick-up truck and trundling in to town.

9:35am: Dan and Sebastiaan are back from the butcher's. Wiggle met his maker within a few minutes of being unloaded. We raise cheerful, unstressed pigs for a reason, and prefer they go to slaughter without any unnecessary fuss. The place we use treats livestock respectfully and is timely and efficient without being callous or cruel.

10:30am: I head into our woods. We have a final walk-through with the forester on Friday morning to see if the timbering crew left our forest in good order. My specific goal is to see how the Lady Slippers are doing. They're a wild orchid, and fussy about their habitat. I asked the loggers to work carefully in the area I marked as densely grown with the Lady Slippers. I'm delighted to see how careful they were, and how well the little orchids are coming along.


1:15pm: Dan heads back into town for feed, whey and to leave our cut list with the butcher.

4:40pm: Dan and Sebastiaan are planting even more onion sets in the market garden. I've been researching the likelihood of my chickens being in the midst of molting. It's the only explanation I can find for why we've been getting fewer and fewer eggs for the past five weeks. Many of the chickens are a year old or just over. Helpful sites remind one again and again that the hens' one-year anniversary is apt to bring a spate of feather replacement -- even if this isn't autumn when molting more traditionally occurs. Once the girls are done refurbishing their feathers, egg production will go up again. I need to relax about my egg count for the next month or so.

8:15pm: The men put a nachos platter on the table for dinner. It's a nice break from meat. We have the blondies I made earlier for dessert. They're a little too sweet with the shredded coconut in them. And they're a little wet too. I'll try again until I get a version I can post on my blog with confidence.

Thursday, April 26

4:48am: I'm wide awake and fully rested. Here's an hour I can steal to make headway on the book I've been trying to read all week.

11:38am: I just made my last spring tree orders. They'll ship immediately (and affordably) from The Arbor Day Foundation. We already put in three kinds of blush cherry: Emperor Francis, Gold and Royal Anne. And we planted two kinds of sweet red cherry to help with pollination for the blush cherries: Hedelfingen and Van. We have three types of sour cherries on site: Montmorency, English Morello and Balaton. I decided to extend our sour cherry season by a week at the beginning with Early Richmond. And I've colored outside the lines altogether by ordering five damson plum trees, because I can't go on forever without my very own Damson Plum Jam.

12:45pm: I've tweaked the volunteer information sheet again. It felt stiff and Dickensian when I reread it yesterday. It's not easy to walk the line between being welcoming to all who wish to share their labor and learn farm skills, and winnowing out the slack, the attitudinous and the out-and-out crazy. Dan and I have met some wonderful people as we host volunteers on our farm through organizations like WWOOF USA and We've also met some folks through these programs who were a few sprinkles short of a cupcake. We work to reduce their incidence on the farm, as erratic care is hard on our swine.

4:40pm: The butcher says Wiggle will be ready for pick-up on Saturday morning. They close at noon, so we'll plan any errands we need to do around this piece of the schedule. Wiggle's "hanging weight," without skin or head or hooves or innards, was 214 lbs. His live weight was about 290 lbs. Commercially raised hogs have a hanging weight conversion ratio of about .65. Our Wiggle just registered at .74 -- and that's before considering the abdominal lard for making leaf lard, the major offal for addition to charcuterie (heart, liver, tongue and kidneys), and the back fat for rendering into general purpose lard. We expect to recover all but 18 percent of Wiggle's live weight, based on our records.

8:25pm: I go out to latch the chicken coops shut, so the hens and their roosters aren't molested while they sleep. And yes, chickens do come home to roost every night. They just put themselves away on the perches according to their flock status. For the last five months, the rooster of the mini-coop, Big Boy by name, has put himself away in the upper coop. Every night, I -- or one of the volunteers -- moves Big Boy to the mini-coop while shutting the coops for the night. Tonight, for whatever reason, Big Boy put himself away in the mini-coop. I won't fully rejoice until he does it three times running, though.

Friday, April 27
6:40am: It's windy, and feels colder out than the thermometer reads. I've released and fed the chickens, walked the dog, waved to the garbage truck, fed the house beasts and started the coffee.

8:45am: Our final walk through with the forester to assess the re-grading of the timbering trails, and the rebuilding of the banks of two runs (a creek has water in it year round; a run is dry part of every year). Everything looks as it should, and our forester already reseeded the trails with a woodland grasses mix which will sprout as soon as the weather is less chilly.

3:00pm: Time to bring in a bunch of nettle tops. My sinuses are going crazy with all the pollen and my eyes are so itchy I can hardly see out. I steep the nettles in hot water, strain the leaves out and keep a bottle of that tea in my fridge to drink hot or cold as often as I want anything with a flavor in it. Nettle tea works at keeping my allergy symptoms to a manageable level. I make the tea through mid-spring until the nettles develop their sting and begin to flower.

5:30pm: I've fed the chickens and house beasts early, as well as scarfed down some of the pâté myself. I'm headed up county. I'll spend the evening there listening to the man, Jerry Brunetti, who's the last word in mineral supplements, better pasture through better soil management, and remedies for naturally raised livestock.

10:30pm: I'm glad I got to hear Jerry Brunetti, and ask him my burning question. While our herd has some ongoing concerns, our single most challenging obstacle in bringing our operations in line with our ideals has been getting our animals off corn-and-soy based supplemental feed. And we've been hitting brick walls in our research for 14 months now. What did pigs eat before we started feeding them corn and soy? What can we feed our pigs that will optimize their health and promote balanced growth? So I asked. And I got two answers. The first was that woodland creatures like pigs thrive on the dropped produce of woody plants. If we were to plant trees to complement the oak, hickory and beech mast we already have, our pigs could be wholly self-feeding year round. Jerry Brunetti suggested Chinese Chestnuts, Honey Locusts and Persimmons as a good start. I love the idea. And we may even implement a long-term, permaculture solution to our swine's dietary needs, matured in 10 or 15 years. In the meantime, we have pigs to feed right now. The next suggestion he made was soaked, sprouted grain in conjunction with alfalfa pasture and alfalfa hay. This I can work with. This I could have in place soon, by the end of the summer certainly. Just as soon as I'm convinced our pigs can have their nutritional needs met with this supplemental feed plan.

Saturday, April 28

6:09am: Big Boy put himself away in the mini-coop again last night. If he's there tomorrow morning, we'll have an established pattern. Not that carrying a recalcitrant rooster to his roost every night is so very onerous, but it is one thing more than I absolutely need on my plate.

8:40am: Dan asked for waffles this morning to go with the maple syrup our friends Emily Vaughn and Bryan Corle made this spring. The syrup has a darker, earthier flavor than Grade A Amber. I could eat it with a spoon from the jar -- but this is as much of that maple syrup as we'll have this year, so I restrain myself.

9:26am: It's fun to watch the piglets learn to eat solids. It's more fun because the chickens like to help, in their own opportunistic way.

Ruby and her daughter Hyacinth share a morning bowl of feed

10:00am: I call Emily Vaughn, who's working as a sales rep for our nascent producers marketing co-op, Allegheny Farm Fresh. She's been cold calling restaurants on the Washingtonian's Top 100 Restaurants list for us. We're sending our hand, Sebastiaan, down to the city on Wednesday and Thursday of next week to introduce these great chefs to our great pork. Wiggle will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the form of select samples for the prospective restaurants. But Chef Sebastiaan Zijp has a culinary degree and a dozen years in the trenches of Manhattan kitchens under his belt. We're extremely lucky to have someone of his caliber, let alone work ethic, volunteering on our farm for a whole year. Emily has seven appointments set for Sebastiaan. We've plotted the routes from restaurant to restaurant to see if it's physically possible to get through the congestion of the DC metro area in time to meet each chef promptly. I'm taking the time to "fluff" our brochure and our introductory letter. Sebastiaan is investigating the menus of the restaurants and the chefs' backgrounds, so as to pack the perfect samples for each appointment.

11:30am: Wiggle is back from the butcher in two large coolers. He's yielded a large volume of abdominal fat for making leaf lard. Sebastiaan begins vacuum packing the chops and offal up right away. Ribs and belly are waiting on ice for us to decide how best to use them. We fridge the hams and shoulders, as they'll mostly go to sausage making on Monday. We have a fabulous grinder with a motor and a turn of the 20th century, hand-cranked, cast-iron sausage stuffer. It's definitely more fun to make sausage when you have the right tools.

2:00pm: I post the blondies recipe to my blog. The recipe is just the way I want it. Terrifying, really. And I wrap up an email exchange with a potential WWOOFer wishing to come at the beginning of August for two months. If he shows, and if he works out, I've done a good day's work. We see lots of WWOOFers through the meat of the summer, but they thin down drastically when colleges start back into session. This guy will be around for all of the tomato and pepper harvesting. They're main cash crops here, so help into autumn is useful in the extreme.

3:40pm: I'm walking our property looking for good sites for near-future pig pastures. We want spots which are fairly level, easy to reach by existing trails and farm roads, and capable of being connected to our water supply at the agricultural well on the northeastern corner of our farm. We will need about seven pastures for our various cohort and breeding herds. My siting work is complicated by the mess timbering has left in our woods. We wanted the brushy tops of the trees left where they fell to provide shelter for wildlife and the necessary proportion of organic matter to help the forest break down all that wood and return it to humus. But there aren't a lot of clean sight-lines for running fencing anywhere. I find a few likely looking spots to show Dan and Sebastiaan, they'll estimate how much chainsaw work will be required to make the pastures happen.

6:00pm: I'm serving Bolognese sauce over spaghetti for dinner. I had a package of our own Italian sausage in the fridge and it wasn't getting any younger. The sauce is finally simmering away. We won't be able to eat until 8:00 if it's going to get quality burner time. Now I can feed the chickens and get the dog out while Dan feeds the pigs solo, since Sebastiaan is off-farm for the night.

8:00pm: Dinner's on. Dan and I agree the sauce is a little watery still. I set the pot on a low burner and let it run through the evening to reduce and thicken.

Sunday, April 29

6:12am: I'm a little late out the door. The sky is beautiful and the air is crisp and still at 29°F. Big Boy is in the mini-coop, right where he should be, when I unlatch the chicken door.

9:20am: I help Dan get feed and water into five gallon buckets. We load the farm utility vehicle with the woods pigs' breakfast and head out. The pigs are delighted to see us and frisky too. The little guys, not so little anymore, are living in a permanent frat-house environment of their own creation. They're rowdy, but well-meaning.

The Rowdiest Tamworth Cross Pigs in the Woods at Buckland Farm

10:40am: I have a guest booked in to our farmstay. She's arriving this afternoon. The room needs a little freshening, as does the bathroom. And the great room needs tidying in the worst way. Happily I have efficient cleaning and clearing routines and make pretty quick work of the domestic labor. Everything will be ship-shape in good time.

1:45pm: I'm researching sprouted grain, particularly barley since it isn't on the Genetically Modified Organism list, and my head is spinning. Apparently the grain will be more nutritious, and with a high enough protein content if it's sprouted. But the barley will need to be heated to dry it, and crushed to make it compatible with the pigs' ability to digest it. According to some sources, the grain will become even more bio-available and mineral-chelated if we also add the extra step of a 24 hour whey ferment after sprouting and before drying and crushing (!). I could devise the system, and even figure out how to integrate it into our daily routine. But I'm not sure we'll be able to raise the capital easily. We used Kickstarter just last autumn, and went flat out to bring in the support for our well at the barn. I don't see the many-times-more monies for a dedicated, feed processing mini-plant being realistic just yet.

"Summer" in ship-shape for our B & B guest

3:30pm: Our guest arrives as I'm out roaming the home acres looking for eggs. She's also our hand's mother, and has been to Buckland Farm several times. Sebastiaan and his mom tour the barn and gardens for much of the afternoon.

4:45pm: Time to start the mushroom and leek lasagna. I make a béchamel sauce, and sauté mushrooms and leeks from our winter garden together. I add lots of flat-leaf parsley and basil to the veggies. Using the Bolognese from last night, I build a whopper of lasagna and have it in the oven by 6:00pm.

9:05pm: Dinner's over and cleared.

See more Food Informants below:

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    Company founder and managing member Izetta Chambers is the driving force behind Naknek Family Fisheries. She organized the LLC in October 2006 and has been managing it seasonally since that time. Izetta is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 2008. Izetta serves as the MAP Agent/Assistant Professor for the Marine Advisory Program, an extension partnership between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant program. Izetta lives in Dillingham with her husband, Chet, their children, Noah and Lovina. Izetta (a.k.a. "the fish lady") has participated in the Bristol Bay fishery since the age of 9 years old, when she began setnet salmon fishing with her brother, Everett Thompson. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Read Izetta's diary here</a>.</strong>

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  • 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>