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.
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.
Read on to see how Jeni works on new flavors, and how she handles the stress of the Fancy Food Show.
Monday, June 11
10:00am: In our taste kitchen -- which is a test kitchen and photography kitchen, and where we taste and evaluate our flavors. It sits right next to my office. The light in there is beautiful. The cream in our fridge was going bad so I made it into butter. The good people of Vitamix sent me a blender recently -- score! -- and I wanted to see if I could make butter in it. Turns out that you can't -- at least not with non-homogenized cream. So, instead, I made the butter, as I usually do, in our Breville mixer, and it was done in just a couple minutes. Paddled the water out and added some smoked salts. Nothing compares to our Vitamix for pulverizing fruits and veggies (so we use it often), but for butter, the Breville mixer rocked.
On the next table, our photographer was styling our grapefruit frozen yogurt and I felt it was too buttoned up, so I squeezed every ounce of juice out of the grapefruit, made it look really sexy, and added a photos of Jessica Simpson's totally edible baby for a garnish. She looks as peachy pink as a plump grapefruit. (Of course we will not use the baby garnished photography, but we got a good kick out of it).
I got so hungry for grapefruit yogurt that I had to go get one of our push pops. It is my favorite of all our flavors. I've been making it since my earliest days in ice cream and never tire of it. It's fresh grapefruit, grapefruit zest, bio-dynamic yogurt and grass-pastured cream. Way better than the unfortunate yogurt shit you find out in the world these days -- sorry, I deplore NASA-engineered, turn-key, fro-yo, fat-free "heathy" stuff. It's only healthy if you think mindlessly eating forgettable food is healthy. Those portions are huge and uncontrollable -- they purposely give you a bowl that's too big and charge by weight. 100 calories per half cup -- but nobody eats 4 ounces, the average serving is 10 or 12 ounces + toppings and then, you might as well eat a full-pleasure scoop of our grass-pastured good yogurt and cream licked slowly on a long walk with your lover -- for, what amounts to, fewer calories and more pleasure.
12:15pm: If there is a better condiment than Tajin in the world, I am not aware of it. So, I ate it with my tuna salad with pickles on tomatoes. Then a bite of a peach that tasted like a tennis ball -- which sat on my desk until it looked like this a week later.
6:15pm: We had to eat fast because we had an event to go to, so it was salami and butter sandwiches with salads. Pink lady apples. Then the dessert bar at a graduation party. I have known Madeleine since she was 2. She would come visit me at my market shop all those years ago when I was in my early 20s trying my hand in business at my first ice cream shop, Scream. Her favorite flavor was my Chamomile ice cream -- which tastes like buttered apples and oatmeal. She is now 17 or 18, graduating high school and she babysits our children. There are many kids that I have seen grow up in the market -- these kids grew up in Columbus on basil or carrot, or backyard mint and salty caramel ice cream, never questioned it. I love that they are all super smarty pants, adventuresome people now. I would like to think that I played a small role in that...along with their parents who chose to take them to the market every Saturday where they grew accustomed to connecting the passionate people with the foods that they prepare or procure. They certainly played a big role in my development as an ice cream maker.
Tuesday, June 12
7:00am: Tragically, our friend's dad was killed in a motorcycle accident. So, we left our house early and headed to Canton for the funeral. Charly and I mostly rode in silence, taking the time to reflect. We just felt so much sadness and love. So much for our friends Michelle and Aaron, and so much for our own families, and the people we work with, and for our community. We felt deeply lucky, and we felt, as we always do, that it can all end tomorrow, so we've got to stop and pay attention now. So, we got chocolates across the street from the church and ate too many of them on the drive back.
2:30pm: You know that feeling of being "sweet-sick"? Two hours of buttercreams from Heggy's Chocolates did it. So, as we reentered our city, we detoured to one of our favorite Mexican joints, Cuco's where we had our usual: guacamole, fish tacos, and a big ass tamale -- because, contrary to common belief, the antidote to sweet-sick is not salt. No, it's umami, and guacamole is full of it. After lunch, I wanted a nap, but instead, I went to see Prometheus. It had been a long, emotional day, and I wanted to check out. So, I hid in the dark theater. Then when I left, my car felt like a spaceship and I cruised around for a while.
6:30pm: I dressed a salad of tomatoes, romaine lettuce, shaved carrots, and mushrooms with buttermilk-mayo-maille mustard and chopped Polish pickles. Greta and Dashiell (my four and three year olds) ate mac n cheese, cooked with broccoli and made gross-out faces at the slices of peach on their plates (which was actually very fragrant, so what the hell?).
Later Charly and I shared a bottle of Cremant, French sparkling white wine that our friend imports from a lesser appreciated region in Southern France through his business in the United States. It was a moment of pure pleasure -- this wine is so so beautiful. We are always stocked with well-made wine because he trades them with us for storage space in our basement under our offices -- which happens to be the perfect cellar for wine -- it's a very old building. He also connects us with various producers in France, like our creme de violette maker -- so we can make violet ice cream, or a voluptuous olive oil from a micro climate in the South of France which we use on top of or in our ice creams. Currently, I am discussing the possibility of a direct trade sea salt with him through his connections on the salty coasts of France.
Wednesday, June 13
10:00am: Ice cream tasting, trying out a new peanut butter and a new chocolate. Both failed. This is common. We fail far more than we succeed around here. But, we take really good notes and learn something new daily. The peanut butter will come from a peanut farmer we know, and it will be honey roasted and delicious, but not today. And we tried a sorbet that we are preparing for the Cooking Light anniversary party this September in New York. We are soaking blackberries in gin from a company called Watershed, who distills gin in the same building as us, then we add a bit of sage. First batches were promising. Those are all my spoons in the photo below (Jake, Pete and Erin from our kitchen team had just as many in their bowls).
Took Greta and Dashiell to the pool and then across the street to Chef-O-Nette for dinner. It's a classic diner that I've been going to since I was a little girl. I had a BLT that I wasn't excited about and super sweet coleslaw.
Thursday, June 14
6:15am: Shawn Askinosie sent us a really great care package that included some of his award-winning hazelnut spread. We ate it on hearty white bread with coffee. And yum.
12:00pm: Chef Hubert Siefert is a tornado. Beloved, sometimes feared, always revered. A chef of the European old guard variety, but a very modern and forward thinking fella. He and a handful of others were early visionaries of the Columbus food scene. He bought local pheasants in the '80s, imported Italian marble, had an insane rotisserie restaurant in downtown. He is a legend -- in his former life he was chef for the old king of Spain. He hangs out on yachts in Monaco, and cavorts with race-car-owning royalty. He is a mentor to me and a great friend. Today we are together for lunch to talk about food education and to turn him on to the great work that we are doing at Local Matters -- a non-profit I co-founded in 2006 that does food education, food justice and urban ag in and around CBus. We are trying to persuade Chef Hubert to join our ranks and he wholeheartedly does -- he is a great teacher, and is very passionate about teaching people to cook.
3:00pm: I went to pick up pork necks at Thurns. Forgot they only take cash. Go home, come back. They give me sample upon sample and I go home with much more than I went for. Including their famous ham salad -- which they call "road kill", their crazy delicious braunsweiger, some mild white sausages and other stuff as seen here.
8:00pm: The Pork Tenderloin Sandwich: When I have guests I like to serve them this sandwich I grew up with. Charly's mom is in town to take our daughter, Greta to Maine. First, we eat. It's like schnitzel on a bun -- which is ridiculous because the meat has no chance of matching the size of the bun. I like to emphasize the how silly it is by serving it on a slider bun. Polish sweet-tart pickles, Maille mustard mixed with mayo are the only condiments. I always serve it with caraway and maple cabbage slaw and I made hasselback potatoes at the last minute because a few extra guests came by and I wanted to be sure to have enough food. This time I experimented with baking the schnitzels, but next time I will go back to frying. This sandwich is served all over Peoria, IL and between the Ohio/Indiana boarder -- but not really in Ohio. I ate it once a week growing up in Peoria. Out here, I have to make it myself. Tonight we drank a big bottle of Saison beer from a company called Rockmill.
Friday, June 15
8:00am: We get together at least once a month for a company-wide meal. It all started 10 years ago at my home table, I would make a gigantic platter of fresh tomato pasta and invite all the kids from the shop over. Back then we could all fit around the table. Now, we have 300 employees. Not everyone comes to every meal, but a lot of people do. Our kitchen team always goes all out when it comes to our meals. We fill our plates and life stops for a moment and we eat together -- conspire together. Today's menu included angelic biscuits that I felt were on par with the famous Loveless Cafe's in Nashville, some white gravy with sausage and onions that was excellent (but didn't photograph well), a study of quiches, some of our jewel-toned jams, a bread pudding and a lot of fresh cut fruits. Over 100 people showed. Because we have so many musicians who work in our kitchen, the topic of conversation today was about the Christmas album that we've been scheming -- but haven't started yet. We will sell it and donate the money. But, first we have to write the songs, find a recording studio, get the right bandmates and cut the record. We get on many of these trains, it'll either take us somewhere or it will crash and burn. That's the fun of company lunch (or in this case, breakfast).
Saturday, June 16
9:30am: We stopped at our office to pick up vanilla beans for display at The Fancy Foods Show booth. To the airport.
2:30pm: We dropped our bags at the Liason Hotel on Capitol Hill and then walked straight to the National Gallery -- there is a George Bellows show there now. And Joan Miro, too. We were starving so we went to the Garden Cafe for a bite before entering the exhibit. Today, Chef Jose Andres has created a menu that is inspired by Catalonian cuisine and Joan Miro. We ate quickly because we wanted plenty of time to see Bellows. The show was life changing for me. I fell in love with George Bellows. (I got yelled at for taking this photo of his painting.) When we left, we happened upon a soapbox derby in progress right next to the Capitol Building. So we paused to watch a race and I snapped the finish.
5:00pm - 8:00pm: EPIC NAP.
8:00pm: We gathered with our team of seven at a place around the corner from our hotel -- and the Capitol -- called Johnnie's. We went there because it was close, not crowded, and it had beer. We ate clams and mussels sauced with a bright green tangy curry of some sort and pork croquettes that reminded me of April Bloomfield's lamb scrumpets -- shredded, fatty meat molded, then breaded and fried and served with a tangy sauce. Then we discussed our strategy for the show. It is only our second Fancy Food Show so this whole thing is very new to us. We want to keep the focus on our quality -- grass-pastured, small-farmed dairy and other direct trade ingredients. After a few beers, we get to bed, ready for the madness tomorrow!
Sunday, June 17
9:00am: Opening day of the Fancy Food Show. I am pissed. Dropping F-bombs, and trying not to lose it. The ice cream has melted and partially refrozen. It's icy. The show opens and our rented freezer has let us down. The repair people are nowhere to be found. We are freaking out and trying to hold a smile as the crowd around our our booth begins to swell. We are giving out samples of imperfect ice cream. I am sick about it. A snarky gal comes over decked out head to toe in some "artisan" ice cream brand and identifies herself as "our competitor here to check out the competition." Of course, she is given melted, refrozen ice cream and it kills me.
Super Hero Scott runs off for a long while, and eventually comes back with another freezer -- a chest model that doesn't fit with our display -- but who cares. Plug it in, and a half an hour later he brings out the reserve, which I am worried will have also melted and refrozen. As he loads, I taste every flavor. PHEW. I mean PHEW. They are all perfect. The characteristic dense buttercream texture that we are known for melts perfectly on my tongue. The flavor of that grass-pastured cream is great. I am quietly dropping reverse F-bombs in celebration and relief. So, I leave the stand for a quick walk around the upper hall -- which will be the only time I do so for most of the next three days.
12:00pm: First thing I do is find Shawn Askinosie and eat my way through all the new stuff. He invites us to Tanzania next year -- which is awesome because I am already planning a trip to Uganda to meet up with our vanilla bean growers, and Charly would love to get back to Malawi (he was there in the Peace Corps). I meet up with Abbe from Lucky Penny Farm who has finally got the right certifications so we can begin working together again. She has a farm in Ohio and makes cajeta -- goat milk caramel -- from milk from her grass pastured goats. It's killer stuff. We vow to get it back on our list. I ate a black tea and bergamot dusted cheese that I fell in love with from Beehive Cheese Company. And then I ran into Katrina Markoff from Vosges and we had a lovely conversation. I would love to make ice cream for her -- it's tough, but it would be cool. On my way back to the booth, while walking through the Mexico exhibit, I notice the Tajin stand -- and told the woman there how much I love it. She was floored that I had even heard of it and she loaded me up with samples. Back to the booth to smile and give out ice cream samples all day.
7:30pm: It was Father's Day so I took Charly to Bandolero on a recommendation from the D.C. food writer Carol Blymire. Charly had some great margaritas and I had a killer rose and some really tasty food. They serve their guacamole with pork rinds -- and I will too, from now on. Then we ate suckling pig tacos with habanero mustard and green apples. I have never eaten anything better.
Tomorrow and the next day we will get up and do it all over again.
Thank You Instagram.
See more Food Informants below:
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
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Paul Tanguay & Tad Carducci, Cocktail Consultants
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Heather Bailie, Fatted Calf Charcuterie Director of Operations
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David Padberg, Executive Chef Of New Restaurant
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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
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Kenneth 'Cat Daddy' Pogson And Tres Shannon, Voodoo Doughnut Founders
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Chris Rivard, Ben & Jerry's Flavor Guru
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Ashley Palmer, PETA Employee
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Tink Pinkard, Professional Hunter & Fly-Fisher
Tink Pinkard is a professional hunting and fly-fishing guide located in the Texas Hill Country. His focus is to provide hunters the opportunity to hunt and harvest white tail deer, exotic species and feral hogs in a fair chase situation. He strives to not only educate a hunter on the basics of the hunt and harvest, but to promote and educate on the utilization of the complete animal "from nose to tail." He aims to do the same for his clients on the waters throughout Texas when he guides them fly-fishing. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/food-informants-tink-pinkard_n_2372755.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Tink's diary here</a>.</strong>
Matthew DuTrumble, Executive Chef Of Zynga
Matthew "Matty" DuTrumble has been the Executive Chef for Zynga -- the company that creates online games such as FarmVille and ChefVille -- since joining the team in 2009. At Zynga, Matthew leads a team focused on menu development, local product sourcing and cooking multiple meals and snacks. He joined Zynga after serving as a Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu CCA in San Francisco. At Le Cordon Bleu CCA, Matthew focused on a broad range of disciplines, including Kitchen Production, Butchery, Banquets & Catering and Contemporary Cuisine. Matthew has appeared on The Food Network's "Private Chefs of Beverly Hills," and also ran his own catering company Matty's Fresh Meals Catering. Additionally, Matthew has served as a Chef at the Harker School, and spent time in the kitchens of The West Deck in Newport, Rhode Island, and Caffe Itri in Cranston, Rhode Island. Matthew studied at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he obtained his culinary and business degrees. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/food-informants-matthew-dutrumble-zynga_n_2193463.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Matthew's diary here</a>.</strong>
Gregory Hall, Cider Maker
Gregory Hall, a craft brewer, is now at the helm of Virtue Brands, the new Chicago-based branch-to-bottle cider venture that uses Midwestern heirloom apples to produce a series of ciders. In his new role as ciderist, Hall hopes to bring craft cider to the level where craft beer is today in America in terms of quality, variety and accessibility to the consumer. Known for his 20-year tenure as brewmaster at the Goose Island Beer Company, Hall began his brewing career in 1988, the year his father, John Hall, opened the brewery. Greg attended Chicago's brewing school, the Siebel Institute, graduating in 1989. In 1992, Hall become the brewmaster of Goose Island Beer Company and under his direction, the brewery flourished and expanded its draft and bottle beer lines. Hall stepped down as Brewmaster of Goose Island in May 2011 to pursue cider making. He maintains his ties to Goose Island as a consultant. Greg Hall is a long-time supporter Chicago food community and many local organizations such as Slow Food Chicago, Chicago's Green City Market and the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project. He is an avid cyclist and currently resides in Chicago with his two children -- Sofie and Henry. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/21/food-informants-gregory-hall-cider_n_2144649.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read more about Greg's week here.</a></strong>
Christophe Hille, Restaurant Owner Post-Sandy
Christophe Hille is the founder and co-owner of Northern Spy Food Co. in New York's East Village. Before opening Northern Spy, Hille was a personal chef to Annie Leibovitz and the executive chef of A16 in San Francisco. He holds an MS in Nutrition & Food Studies from New York University. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/food-informants-christophe-hill-northern-spy-sandy_n_2119497.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Christophe's diary here.</a></strong>
Steve Smith, Tea Maker
Steve Smith is one of the world's leading tea makers and entrepreneurs. In 1972, Smith was a young partner in the first natural foods store in Portland. Expanding on these roots -- and the joys of tea learned from his grandmother and time spent in Southeast Asia -- he and two partners founded the Stash Tea Company. The trio introduced herbal and specialty black teas to retail and food service accounts throughout North America, eventually growing to become one of the largest-selling food service specialty tea brands in the country. When Stash was acquired in 1993 by Yamamotoyama, the oldest tea company in Japan, Smith left to pursue a new vision, which came to be known as Tazo. Smith is credited in developing over 60 proprietary blends in multiple beverage formats -- many of which remain Tazo's top selling teas today. In January of 1999 Tazo was acquired by Starbucks, and Smith and his team continued to lead the company until January of 2006. Parting ways with Starbucks and Tazo in 2006, Smith moved to Avignon with his wife, Kim and their 10-year-old son. But after a year, the path of tea called them all back to Portland. He's now perfecting his new signature line: Steven Smith Teamaker. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/food-informants-steven-smith-tea-maker_n_2065393.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Steve's diary here.</a></strong>
Jenny McCoy, Pastry Chef
Jenny McCoy is a New York City-based professional pastry chef turned home baker. She's the co-founder of Cissé Trading Company, a cookbook author, culinary instructor and authority on all things sweet. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/food-informants-jenny-mccoy-cisse-trading_n_2009096.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Jenny's diary here.</a></strong>
Lee Schrager, New York Wine & Food Festival Founder
Lee Brian Schrager serves as the Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. He joined the company in 2000 and oversees projects for the company in all 35 states in which it does business. Most noteworthy in Schrager's resume is his creation of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in 2002 and the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival in 2008. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/food-informants-lee-schrager_n_1989586.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Lee's diary here.</a></strong>
David Venable, QVC Host
David Venable is the host of the popular QVC program "In The Kitchen With David" which airs every Wednesday at 9pm and Sundays at noon. David Venable joined QVC as a program host in 1993 and has since helped establish and build the multimedia retailer's gourmet food business. Venable also serves as a primary host for other QVC programming. Prior to joining QVC, Venable was an anchor/reporter for WOAY -- TV in Oak Hill, W. Va., and CBS-affiliate WTAJ -- TV in Altoona, Pa., where he hosted its weekly public affairs talk show "Action Newsmakers." He also hosted the Children's Miracle Network telethon for four years. Venable earned his bachelor's degree in radio, television and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. He just released his debut cookbook which has been flying off the shelves. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/david-venable-food-informants_n_1959484.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read David's diary here.</a></strong>
Kareem Hajjar, Restaurant Lawyer
Kareem T. Hajjar's bar and restaurant law practice includes the representation of approximately 400 bars and restaurants located throughout Texas and includes the formation of corporate entities, real estate acquisition and leasing, zoning and other land use and municipal issues, trademark acquisitions, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission permit acquisition, employment agreements, mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations to private offerings of debt and equity securities, venture capital transactions and contract negotiations. Kareem has served on the Board of Directors of the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, the Advisory Council for the Texas Wine and Food Festival, the Leadership Council for the Ronald McDonald House of Austin, the Board of Directors for FloralBurst, the Membership Committee of the Texas Food and Wine Foundation, and the Bulletproof Committee for the Lone Star of Texas Rodeo. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/food-informants-restaurant-lawyer_n_1933294.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Kareem's diary here.</a></strong>
Carolyn Ottenheimer, Kettle Brand Chip's Chief Flavor Architect
Carolyn Ottenheimer is the Chief Flavor Architect for Kettle Brand Chips in Salem, Oregon. She's responsible for developing and defining the flavor and quality attributes of all Kettle Brand products -- the base snack and the seasoning blends that are applied to the various flavors. She also defines the quality standards of all of the products and ensures that the process facilities have tools with which to monitor chip quality. She confirms that all of the products meet the claims that are being made on the packaging -- like "gluten free." Finally, she checks that production facilities have food safety programs. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/food-informants-carolyn-ottenheimer_n_1911190.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Carolyn's diary here.</a></strong>
Emil Grosso, Balducci's Food Buyer
As Vice President of Business Development for Balducci's, Emil Grosso is in charge of scouring and searching for the purveyors of quality available across the U.S. and around the world. From farms to fields to forests, he selects foods for Balducci's markets and catering services -- handpicking the best coffee beans, artisan breads and produce. Now, Emil is also sourcing quality ingredients for Balducci's Gourmet on the Go Café, the latest Balducci's food destination in New York City. The Café opened this past March, and it marked the return of Balducci's gourmet foods to Manhattan and was conceptualized and realized by Emil over the past two years. The new Café, located in the Hearst Tower on the corner of 56th Street and Eighth Avenue, serves an array of foods, made with locally sourced produce from New York City urban farmers and features breads and pastries from the city's best bakeries. Emil is constantly on the road, meeting new people in the food world and taking a lot of trips to find the best-of-the-best throughout the country to bring back to NYC. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/food-informants-emil-grosso_n_1861861.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Emil's diary here.</a></strong>
Eric Brenner, Gluten-Free Chef
Chef Eric Brenner has multiple food allergies in his family and years of experience cooking for food-sensitive restaurant customers. Named the 2008 Top Chef and Chef of the Year by multiple publications in St. Louis for his former restaurant MOXY Contemporary Bistro, he has now brought his culinary style to BOLD Organics, a line of gluten-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, casein-free, whey-free, egg-free, peanut-free and tree nut-free frozen pizzas that contain no GMOs, preservatives, nitrites, nitrates or trans-fats. Working together with 21-year-old company founder Aaron Greenwald, Brenner has created a new line of gluten- and allergen-free products that meet the dietary restrictions of the tens of millions who suffer with food sensitivities. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/05/food-informants-eric-brenner-gluten-free_n_1846865.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Eric's diary here.</a></strong>
Rudy Marchesi, Biodynamic Wine Maker
Rudy Marchesi assumed ownership of Montinore Estates in 2006, but has had a hand in the estate since 1992 when he lead the fine wine department of the distribution house of Allied Beverage. In 1998, he began consulting on Montinore's vineyard management, winemaking and marketing. He became Vice President of Operations in 2001 and President in 2003. Marchesi obtained the Demeter Biodynamic certificate in 2008, which certifies wines based on the strict principles of biodynamic farming. This process involves an organic approach that treats the soil with fermented manure, minerals and herbs.
Zach Zamboni, Anthony Bourdain's Cinematographer
Zach Zamboni is a cinematographer. Logging more than 10,000 hours of camera work throughout the world, Zach has been awarded two Emmy's for Non-Fiction Cinematography (2009, 2011), and is nominated for a third. He's shot more than 70 episodes of the highly successful travel series "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," and "The Layover." Between shooting documentaries and features, he's finishing a screenplay about the spooky side of traveling. Follow his adventures on Twitter @zachzamboni. Find him at www.zachzamboni.com. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/15/zach-zamboni-food-informants_n_1765003.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Zach's diary here.</a></strong>
Matt Cohen, Food Truck Organizer
Originally from Denver, Matt Cohen moved to Japan and became obsessed with ramen and classic Asian night markets. When he returned to the States, he settled in the Bay Area and founded Tabe, a late-night ramen cart. In 2010, Matt founded <a href="http://offthegridsf.com/" target="_hplink">Off the Grid</a>, a network of street food vendors, effectively bringing much of the feeling of an Asian night market state-side. He does everything from recruiting and approving new vendors, to dealing with the intricate process of acquiring permits and clearance for the growing number of weekly markets. At the heart of Off the Grid is a genuine love for the concept of bringing people together in a social urban environment and providing fledgling operations a jumping-off place for their endeavors. In a week, Off the Grid works with upwards of 100 small businesses, and with 18 weekly markets and growing, that constructive interaction is only bound to grow. Matt's most recent endeavor is The <a href="http://www.sffoodlab.com/" target="_hplink">SF Food Lab</a>, a business launched with two other industry veterans. The Food Lab offers a test kitchen space and dining are for entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop their products and cuisine, with all the tools necessary. That said, quickly approaching Off the Grid's second anniversary, Matt hasn't lost his love for street food -- you can usually find him at one of his markets every night of the week. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/food-informants-off-the-grid_n_1759442.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Matt's diary here.</a></strong>
Adam Keough, Chef Preparing For A James Beard Dinner
Since taking the reins as Executive Chef at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in late 2010, Chef Adam Keough has garnered a three-star review and inclusion in the 2011 and 2012 "Top-100 Bay Area Restaurants" list from the San Francisco Chronicle, a first for the restaurant since opening in 1998. A Boston native and Michael Mina Group vet, Keough has years of fine dining experience in restaurants across the country. He is also a two-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist for national "Rising-Star Chef of the Year," in 2007 and 2008. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/adam-keough-food-informants_n_1710342.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Adam's diary here.</a></strong>
Ashley Archer, Culinary Producer Of 'The Chew'
Ashley Archer has 10 years of restaurant experience including three years at Prune in New York City. She was a Senior Culinary Producer at Food Network, where she worked on shows including Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, Tyler's Ultimate, Guy's Big Bite and more. She was also a food stylist for Emeril Live, Essence of Emeril, Next Food Network Star, Rachael Ray and more. Now, she's the Culinary Producer at The Chew and the co-editor of the new Chew cookbook, which debuts September 25. Archer lives in Washington Heights with her husband and two-year-old daughter. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/food-informants-the-chew_n_1689537.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Ashley's diary here.</a></strong>
Shawn Askinosie, Chocolate Maker On A Trip To Africa
Shawn Askinosie is the founder and chocolate maker of Askinosie Chocolate. Since founding Askinosie Chocolate after working in criminal law for 20 years, Shawn's social business model has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and numerous other publications. Shawn sells his chocolate throughout the U.S. and exports to stores around the world. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Affairs degree in May 2012 to "recognize his contributions as a community leader, an entrepreneur, a role model and an inspiration to students and others." <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/food-informants-shawn-askinosie_n_1668658.html?utm_hp_ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Shawn's diary here.</a></strong>
Andrew Zimmern is a James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, teacher and is widely regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel's hit series, "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern," "Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World," and his new series, "Bizarre Foods America," he travels the globe, exploring food in its own terroir. Zimmern is a contributing editor at Food & Wine, an award-winning monthly columnist at Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and a senior editor at Delta's Sky Magazine. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife Rishia, son Noah and several un-eaten pets. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/food-informants-andrew-zimmern_n_1654620.html?utm_hp_ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Andrew's diary here.</a></strong>
Anthony Butler, Soup Kitchen Director
In June of 2005, Anthony Butler took the position as Executive Director at St. John's Bread and Life. During his tenure there, he has worked to meet the growing need of emergency food in the community, provide those services with the greatest dignity and develop strategies to reduce individuals and families need for emergency food. In June of 2008, Bread and Life moved into a new $8,000,000 state-of-the-art facility; featuring expanded space, a digital choice food pantry, medical offices, a library, a non-denominational chapel, classroom, demonstration kitchen, and proper space to meet the increased demand of Bread and Life's guest, fully paperless data collection, and swipe card system for hot meals. Throughout this, Bread and Life has grown to a $3,000,000 annual budget and has served over 500,000 meals annually. As part of Bread and Life's commitment to providing nutritious food, it has grown its partnership with the sustainable food community. Over the past two years Bread and Life has brought over $200,000 worth of sustainably grown New York State products into the community. It continues to partner with the Brooklyn and New York food community to address the issues of Hunger and poverty. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/food-informants-soup-kitchen_n_1643465.html?utm_hp_ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Anthony's diary here.</a></strong>
Jeni Britton Bauer, Ice Cream Maker
Jeni Britton Bauer has created ice cream for more than 15 years. Drawing from her traditional pastry training and a pantry of exceptional ingredients, the Columbus resident continues to perfect the frozen desserts for which her company, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, is known. Jeni first discovered her love for dessert while working at La Chatelaine bakery in Columbus, Ohio. Her passion for ice cream eventually led to the opening of her first ice cream shop, Scream, in 1996 in Columbus' North Market. With the help of her business partner and husband Charly, she founded Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in November 2002 in the same market where she operated her first scoop. Now, Bauer is the owner and creative director of eight elegant scoop shops in central Ohio, one in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and one in Nashville, Tennessee, with individual pints available online and in freezer aisles throughout the United States. Her ice cream has been praised by Time magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today and countless other media outlets throughout the country. In June 2011, Artisan Books published "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home." Now in its sixth printing, The New York Times best-selling cookbook has been dubbed "the homemade-ice cream-making Bible" by The Wall Street Journal, while The Washington Post proclaimed Jeni "an ice cream wizard." In May 2012, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home won a James Beard Media Award in the "Cookbook: Baking & Desserts" category. When Jeni isn't developing new flavors, she devotes time to Local Matters (the Columbus-based, fresh-food-for-all non-profit she co-founded), as well as reading, painting at her kitchen table, sewing, drinking wine, cooking and making big messes with her husband and two children at their home in Columbus. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/food-informants-jenis-splendid_n_1616712.html" target="_hplink">Read Jeni's diary here.</a></strong>
Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs, Food 52 Founders
Amanda Hesser is an entrepreneur, best-selling author and has been named one of the 50 most influential women in food by Gourmet. As a longtime staffer at the New York Times, Hesser wrote more than 750 stories and was the food editor at the Times Magazine. She has written the award-winning books "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Cook and the Gardener," and edited the essay collection "Eat, Memory." Her last book, a Times bestseller and the winner of a James Beard award, is The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Hesser is a trustee of Awesome Food, and is an adviser to the Spence Foundation, Real Time Farms and Fondu. Merrill Stubbs grew up in New York City and after graduating from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature, she honed her cooking skills at Le Cordon Bleu in London. Later, she interned in the test kitchen at Cook's Illustrated and was a private chef and cooking instructor. While she was in Boston, she also worked with Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery + Café. Merrill met her Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser when she signed on to help research and test recipes for The Essential New York Times Cookbook. She has written for T Living, Edible Brooklyn and Body+Soul, and she was the food editor at Herb Quarterly. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their 4-month-old daughter. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/food-informants-food52_n_1586150.html?" target="_hplink">Read Amanda and Merrill's diary here.</a></strong>
Emiliano Lee, Cheesemonger
Emiliano Lee comes from a long line of grocers and his passion for cheese dates back to his childhood in Oakland, where he could be found stealing bites of Rouge et Noir brie from the wheel in his father's desk drawer and spending his allowance at the 6th Avenue Cheese Shop in San Francisco. After working as a cheesemonger throughout the country, Lee is now the Artisan Market Manager for Farmshop in Los Angeles. Since 2009, Lee has served as a judge for the American Cheese Society, affording him the opportunity to taste thousands of cheeses from hundreds of North American producers, and provide them with valuable aesthetic feedback. Additionally, Lee participated in the 2010 Cheesemonger Invitational, served as a panelist at the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference, and most recently was a panel moderator at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/06/food-informants-cheesemonger_n_1567473.html?" target="_hplink">Read Emiliano's diary here.</a></strong>
Melissa Cookston, BBQ Champion
Melissa Cookston is a three-time World Champion BBQ Pitmaster, the only female to have won the prestigious Memphis in May (MIM) World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest. She owns and operates the Memphis Barbecue Company, a restaurant in Horn Lake, Mississippi serving her and her partners' World Championship BBQ. She is a sought-after expert in the world of grilling and barbecueing. She spends her time competing in BBQ Contests, operating the restaurant, and spreading the gospel of Memphis-style barbecue. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/30/melissa-cookston_n_1545450.html" target="_hplink">Read Melissa's diary here.</a></strong>
Dave Arnold, Culinary Science Expert
Dave Arnold is the Director of Culinary Technology at The International Culinary Center. He began tinkering with restaurant equipment after earning his MFA from Columbia University's School of the Arts. For an art project that required a 360-degree view of the inside of an oven, he re-fabricated a traditional range with glass walls. After meeting Chef Wylie Dufresne of wd-50, Dave became even more passionate about culinary sciences and focused his inventive skills on professional and home cooking. In 2005 The French Culinary Institute tapped him to head its new Culinary Technology Department. As director, Dave is dedicated to helping chefs achieve their most ambitious goals using new technologies, techniques, and ingredients. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/dave-arnold-food-informants_n_1540743.html?ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Dave's diary here.</a> </strong>
Rachel Ayotte And Meredith Vachon, Food Publicists
Meredith Vachon and Rachel Ayotte met in Los Angeles in 2002 when Rachel was hired to join Meredith's team at a hospitality PR firm. As two Southerners (Rachel is from Arkansas and Meredith is from Texas) new to the City of Angels, they instantly connected over their shared love of good food, big laughs and chilled wine. After leaving the firm to explore separate avenues, one of which led Meredith to Austin, they found themselves at career crossroads with daily discussions about ways they could work together doing what they loved most--spreading the word about great food. <a href="http://www.breadandbutterpr.com/" target="_hplink">Bread & Butter Public Relations</a> opened in March 2007 with two clients and two home offices (dining room tables). Today, the company has over 50 clients, offices in Austin, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco (real offices), and a steadily expanding team of employees. The good food, big laughs and chilled wine are now considered everyday perks of the job. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/16/food-publicists_n_1510762.html?" target="_hplink">Read their full diary here.</a></strong>
Carrie Megginson, Sustainable Pig Farmer
January 2010 found Dan Earnest and Carrie Megginson moving in to their picturesque farmhouse in the beautiful South Central Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. In the spring, they acquired their first Tamworth cross piglets and began dedicating their time to raising the happiest, pastured, heritage-breed pigs in the region. Their passion for great pork, ethically produced, has been an unbelievable learning experience -- as well as a source of pride and joy. And no, neither Carrie nor Dan had farmed before they chose to jump in at the deep end of sustainable agriculture. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/food-informants-pig-farmer_n_1468614.html" target="_hplink">Read Carrie's diary here.</a></strong>
Debra Music, Vice President, Theo Chocolate
Deb Music comes by her role at Theo having been a serious chocolate devotee since a young age. After many years spent juggling various passions and honing her marketing acumen in a variety of roles, Deb took a 3,000 mile leap of faith in 2004 and moved from her home in the northeast clear across the country to Seattle, to help her ex-husband fulfill his dream of building the first organic and fair trade certified chocolate factory in the United States, as chief sales and marketing guru. Seven years later, she continues to ensure that Theo Chocolate is firmly rooted in its commitment to organic, fair trade chocolate while creating a model for sustainable business. Deb lives in Bellevue, Washington with her husband, a Microsoft geek, and her son, a budding musician. She continues to eat chocolate (and kale) every single day. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/food-informants-theo-chocolate_n_1459068.html" target="_hplink">Read Deb's diary here.</a></strong>
Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA
As president of Slow Food USA, Josh Viertel is working to create a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the planet, and good for the people who grow, pick and prepare it - good, clean and fair food. Josh previously co-founded and co-directed the Yale Sustainable Food Project at Yale University. The project transformed the University's cafeteria to a menu based on sustainable, local foods, built an organic farm on campus, and developed food and agriculture curriculum and programs for undergraduates. Prior to his work at Yale, Josh started Mamabrook Farm, a small organic vegetable farm that provided food to local restaurants and farmers' markets. Josh graduated from Harvard University with degrees in Philosophy and Literature. In 2010, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Josh is dedicated to building a social movement that can transform our relationship to food and farming. He may be reached via <a href="mailto:Josh@SlowFoodUSA.org" target="_hplink">email</a> or <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/JoshViertel" target="_hplink">Twitter</a>. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/slow-food-president_n_1441797.html?1335565421" target="_hplink">Read Josh's diary here</a>.</strong>
Adam Pearson, Food Stylist
Adam Pearson is a food stylist from Los Angeles. With a variety of editorial and advertising clients, Adam creates the beautiful food seen in catalogs, magazines and cookbooks. He lives with his partner, a food photographer, and their 3 dogs. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/adam-pearson-food-stylist_n_1417478.html" target="_hplink">Read Adam's diary here.</a></strong>
Pam & Rich Green, Maple Syrup Producers
Pam and Rich Green are maple sugarmakers and owners of Green's Sugarhouse in Poultney, Vermont. They make pure Vermont maple syrup and related products, including maple cream spread, maple sugar candies and granulated maple sugar. Rich learned maple sugaring from his grandfather. Pam, on the other hand, married into it, 42 years ago. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/maple-syrup-producers_n_1397600.html" target="_hplink">Read Pam's diary here.</a></strong> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tavallai/4536294812/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr</a>
David Wondrich, Cocktail Guru
David Wondrich was educated -- in between stints as boatyard worker, bass player, process server and a dozen other things -- at New York University, where he earned a Doctorate in Comparative Literature in 1997. After a brief career as a Shakespeare professor and a briefer one as a jazz critic, he fell into a job writing about drinks for Esquire magazine, an occupation he has happily persevered in ever since. Widely acknowledged as the world's foremost expert on the history of the cocktail, Dr. Wondrich is the author of countless newspaper and magazine articles and five books, including 2007's Imbibe! (which won a James Beard award) and Punch, which was released to wide acclaim in late 2010. He frequently lectures on drinks and their curious history and is a founding partner in Beverage Alcohol Resource, the nation's leading training program for bartenders and other mixologists and a member in satisfactory standing of the Yerba Buena No. 1 chapter of E Clampus Vitus. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/david-wondrich_n_1373090.html" target="_hplink">Read David's diary here.</a></strong>
Daniel Klein, Founder Of 'Perennial Plate'
After learning to cook at his mother's bed and breakfast, Daniel Klein went on to work and train at many of the world's top restaurants. His culinary education brought him to Spain, France, England, India and New York, where he has worked and trained at top Michelin starred restaurants including The Fat Duck (Heston Blumenthal), St. John (Fergus Henderson), Mugaritz (Andoni Luis Aduriz), Bouchon (Thomas Keller), Applewood (David Shea) and Craft (Tom Collichio). After graduating from NYU, Daniel also pursued a career in film. He has directed, filmed, edited and produced projects on various issues including the development industry in Africa and oil politics. Currently, Daniel Klein produces The Perennial Plate, an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. You can find his weekly videos right here on HuffPost Food. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/21/daniel-klein-perennial-plate_n_1364613.html?ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Daniel Klein's diary here.</a></strong>
Stewart Hawthorn, Craft Salmon Farmer
Stewart Hawthorn is the the principal farmer for all of Skuna Bay's salmon farming activities. He began farming salmon on the west coast of Scotland almost 25 years ago, first on the Isle of Skye, and later at Loch Sunart and Loch Diabeg. After gaining experience in Europe, North America called and life found Stewart working at Limekiln Bay on the eastern coast of Canada. New Zealand was his next stop, raising salmon in the Marlborough Sounds and savoring the region's wines. In the early 1990s, Stewart took a sabbatical from salmon farming and spent several years in rural Papua New Guinea, where he worked to implement sustainable freshwater carp pond farming at the village level. Now at Skuna Bay, Stewart believes that by farming salmon, he helps to reduce the influence of invasive practices of large scale fishing companies and the pressure on wild salmon populations. When Stewart isn't busy crafting salmon, or caring for his extensive family, he can still be found along the water swimming in lakes and rivers. He also plays squash, and enjoys hiking and running. He is a member of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, and sits as a Board Member at Vancouver Island University. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/stewart-hawthorn-craft-salmon-farmer_n_1332226.html" target="_hplink">Read Stewart's diary here.</a></strong>
Amy Bandolik, Food Tour Director
Amy didn't dream of a career in the food industry. She spent 12 years as a Career Counselor and by 32 she was working at New York University teaching seminars such as Don't Quit Your Day Job and The Quarter-Life Career Crisis. That is, until she had a (slightly delayed) quarter-life crisis of her own. After a series of single-girl-in-the-city heartbreaks and with a family history rooted deeply in New York mom & pop shops, she redirected her energy and dove headfirst into being a NYC tour guide for a Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour company. In 2008, Amy officially quit her day job and began working full time (behind the scenes). Amy is the Director of Operations for Foods of New York Tours. The company offers food tours seven days a week, 360 days a year. Amy supervises a troupe of 14 tour guides and maintains relationships with the staffs of the 50 plus restaurants and food shops in the five Manhattan neighborhoods that the Foods of New York Tours highlights. She walks the streets of NYC to find the best food and the most interesting off-the-beaten path sites in order to create new (and enhance current) Food Tours. And since Amy has to eat out A LOT for her job, she is also a proud Weight Watchers member as well. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/amy-bandolik-food-tour-director_n_1314921.html" target="_hplink">Read Amy's diary here.</a></strong>
Aldo Sohm, Le Bernardin's Wine Director
Aldo Sohm is the Wine Director of the acclaimed New York restaurant Le Bernardin. His wine career began in Austria and he won the title of "Best Sommelier of Austria 2002." He upheld this title for four consecutive years, a feat never before or since accomplished. Sohm relocated to the United States in July 2004 and worked as the wine director at Wallsé, Blaue Gans and Café Sabarsky. He was voted "Best Sommelier in New York" in 2006 by New York Magazine. The following year, Sohm competed for and won the title of "Best Sommelier in America 2007." In May 2007, Sohm joined Le Bernardin, New York's longest rated four-star restaurant. As wine director, he oversees a wine collection consisting of 15,000 bottles made up of 900 wine selections from 12 countries with vintages that date back to 1945. He also trains the sommeliers to offer guests enticing food and wine pairings that range from classic to daring. His favorite pairing at Le Bernardin is scallops with morels and Chablis ler Cru Vaillon, Defaix 2000. Sohm reached the pinnacle of wine competitions when he was awarded the highly-coveted title, "Best Sommelier in the World 2008," by the World Sommelier Association. He is the first representative of America to win this title. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/aldo-sohm-le-bernardin_n_1308019.html?ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Aldo's diary here.</a></strong>
Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer and dynamic television personality. Since the show's inception, she has lent her expertise as a permanent judge on BRAVO's 2010 Emmy-winning hit series "Top Chef," and is host of "Top Chef: Just Desserts," its pastry- focused spin-off, which just completed its second successful season. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/gail-simmons_n_1282836.html" target="_hplink">Read Gail's diary here.</a></strong>
Bob Tuschman, Food Network Senior Vice President
Bob Tuschman is the general manager/SVP of the Food Network. He previously served as senior vice president, programming and production for Food Network, heading up all programming aspects for the network. He was instrumental in discovering, developing and producing many of the network's biggest stars including Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis and Guy Fieri, and led the network to record viewership levels. Prior to joining the Food Network, Tuschman worked at ABC News as a producer for Good Morning America, as well as on specials and numerous pilots. He also produced pilot, series and documentary projects for HBO, ABC, American Movie Classics and CNBC. Tuschman is a graduate of Princeton University and currently lives in New York City. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/08/bob-tuschman-food-network_n_1248073.html?ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Bob Tuschman's diary here.</a></strong>
Taylor Cocalis & Dorothy Neagle, Founders Of Good Food Jobs
Dorothy Neagle and Taylor Cocalis met while attending Cornell University in 2004, and immediately bonded over food -- namely, ice cream cones. While Taylor's studies eventually took her to Italy for a Master's degree in Food Culture, and Dorothy's work as an interior designer led her to New York City, they stayed in touch and eventually became neighbors in New York once again. Taylor was running the classroom at Murray's Cheese shop with unbridled enthusiasm when Dorothy discovered that her passion for environmentalism was stirring up an interest in food and agriculture. It didn't take long for the two of them to brainstorm an idea that would satisfy their interests in sustainability, food culture, and making a difference in other people's livelihoods. Good Food Jobs launched in October 2010. As of January 2012 the site has amassed over 16,000 registered followers and posted over 3,000 jobs. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/good-food-jobs-founders_n_1231612.html" target="_hplink">Read Taylor and Dorothy's diary here.</a></strong>