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.
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.
Read more about Zach's trip to New Orleans to shoot "The Layover" with Anthony Bourdain.
Friday, July 28. Portland, Maine.
2pm: Typical moment, scratching my head, staring at open suitcase. What am I missing? Where am I going? Home for barely 48 hours from the last "Layover" shoot in Toronto, following on the heels of Taipei, Sao Paolo, Rio, Italy... Try not to unpack too much for this reason. Take toiletry kit back down from wall. Get laundry. Get aired-out boots. Packing is an art; have redundancies, expect the unexpected. Antibiotics, climbing gear, respectable shirts, rain gear, spare hard-to-find nuts and bolts. Going somewhere hot? Bring a sweater. Cold? Bring swim trunks. I've read the episode treatment, double-checked equipment orders, shared notes with my favorite colorist Mr. Beganyi, checked weather, paid bills and watched a fine cut of a previously shot episode.
7pm: Jam bags in car. My girlfriend and I take out a pizza, drive 5 minutes to the harbor and ride the launch out to my sailboat. Woods and water time speeds my recovery to sanity. We eat on the deck. Mackerel jump and a seal eats them.
8pm: Twilight. Lukewarm beer. Of all the places I've been in my life, I'm reassured Maine is my favorite. We pick out constellations with a star-finder App. You still need a blanket in July. The zodiac is no joke.
Saturday, July 28. Falmouth, Maine.
6am: A lobster boat chugs close by. I make strong coffee, waking up girlfriend with the clatter of the percolator parts. Ducks bob around. A few more fishing boats pass. Eventually I bail out the dingy. She drops me off at the airport again. Staying behind sucks.
8am: Checking in for the millionth time. Portland's airport is 15 minutes from the boat and there's never a line. One TSA guy gives me a hard time for snapping a picture, the other says, "ah, you again."
11am: LaGuardia Airport, New York. Connect with comrades-in-arms, Jared and Erik (Producers) and Jerry (Camera). Big hugs. Haven't seen you in 2 days jokes. We're tight, having experienced much laughter and grinding of teeth over the years. Bourdain and Tom (Director) coming in on a later flight. Load up friendly skycap with Pelican cases. Lift with legs, not back. Reunite with my camera bag. "This is my camera, there are many like it but this one is mine..."
Check-in again, always a task with all the cases (love your airline employee). Express angst over travel agent putting us in middle seats again. Why? Followed by breakfast meeting talking shop and road stories. There really are urine drinking seals in the Arctic.
4pm: New Orleans, Louisiana. I like how the gap between the plane and jet bridge provides the first smell of local air stirred with jet fuel. I like both. It's hot and wet and the air feels like a foreign country. I love this place. It's my fifth show in NOLA. Initiate ritual of cramming bags into pass van. Despite the request, they usually show up with the back seats still in. My Groundhog Day is in an airport. I smell the air like a dog or sailor, trying to get a feel for the weather.
5pm: Check into nice hotel, good for crew morale. Throw bag in room, meet local Camera Assistants, begin next ritual: unpack. Build camera, test things, tape and velcro, repack for the field and jettison empty pelican cases, organize sound kits, bitch about equipment, label things.
7:30pm: We have the luxury of time for a scout. Unusual on "Layover," which runs more like a hit-and-run operation. Bourdain and Tom are still stuck on the rained-out tarmac in NYC. Producers talk contingency plan.
8pm: Scouting a restaurant has us looking like wayward mental patients. Slowly wandering around the dining room staring at ceiling, whispering and subtly gesturing. Determining the best table to shoot presents a dilemma: maximize the depth of the restaurant, making for nice backgrounds, and we have to sit in the darkest spot. One founding principal of "Layover" is no lights. I don't mind things being low key and under-lit; we've shot some very dark spots. I have a hard time accepting no eye-light. Need life in the eyes. As a rule, Bourdain hates lights. No time to use them on "Layover" and he likes that. I sit in his seat and my eyes wander around the room looking for a place to hide a small lamp.
10pm: Sweating still, wander a bit, cool with Daiquiris. Team lands at Napoleon. I happily order jambalaya. Bourdain and Tom finally in the air.
Sunday, July 29th. New Orleans, Louisiana.
8:30am: Call time. AC's warm up cold cameras and lenses. Humidity is Singapore-esque. Suss out cab-shot possibilities, front seat or back? Our cab driver Mr. Flood, back from the last episode, says I sat in the front last time. Done. Organize vans. Walkie up.
9am: Bourdain arrives in terrific spirits, early for his call as always. Never late, thinks lateness reflects poorly on people. Wayward platoon happy to be united, ready to work. He mikes himself, knowing I'll futz around and try to get it perfect. In cab, my legs are going numb, jammed against the dash and door. Tom is trying to squeeze out of the shot in the back. Bourdain tends to be hilarious in the a.m., also on long commutes, or when crew is suffering. Sadly, so many funny things he says are television-impossible.
10am: Crab Trap, an open air shack. Heat immediately knocks us down. We have audio issues upon landing. Owner insists on a quick tour of his winnings from storage unit auctions. Lot of texture here. Bourdain asks if we can un-fuck ourselves so we can get to eating the bounty of boiled crabs and shrimps before us. We do. Scene looks very nice. Dirty over the shoulders, T4.0, long zooms.
12pm: Lunch. Heat index is cranking, we are fully sweat-soaked. This is one of those scenes where we get to sit and eat afterwards. Hot, but I love this place.
2:30pm: R Bar. Arrive just before Bourdain to a dark bar with screaming highlights coming through side and front doors, no light in the middle. Need to pick a seat fast. Extremely high contrast situation and we need to do a walk around the neighborhood first. Sun is blazing hot, contrast maximized, they want to walk in shade. S-log is needed but it's difficult to see focus with it and navigate the walk backwards. Never easy.
They land in the middle of the bar. There is great, hushed confusion over the walkies, the AC's slowly opening and closing doors as we try to control the light. "Not your right, my right, that is the side door, I need you to open the front door, the other front door..." Still looks good.
5pm: Sitting down for po'boy at R&O. Air Con good. Funny scene, coverage is easy. Happy for HipShot and room to work. Plenty of light.
9:30pm: Jammed in cab again. Town is looking good but roads in New Orleans still really rough. Head is banging off ceiling, trying to keep the 50mm steady and focused at T1.8. Just need a few moments. Night driving can be very pretty.
10pm: Snake and Jakes. Jammed behind bar, no room to move, front of my pants soaking up liquor spillage from the well. Crowded, bartender happy to bang Jerry and I around. Shooting on primes which are last-resort, prefer the zoom's flexibility. It's very dark, few candles around, a small LED dimmed and hiding on the bar. We're T1.8 at 3200 iso, camera digs into the shadows nicely. Jager shots.
11:30pm: Last stop of the day, King Pin. Run in for a table, land in the middle of the room. Giant TV flickers epileptic light over Tony and Donald's faces as they talk. Quietly ask if it can be switched off over the walkie. Snaps off, total darkness, "back on, back on!" Tony gives me a "quit fucking around" look. The enemy of good is better.
12:30am: I'm standing in the taco truck framing up the bar's door expecting Bourdain to walk out and wander up to the window. I can hear him on the wireless. Exits, immediately drunken fan stumbles into frame and asks if she can smell him. This is video gold for Tom so he doesn't intervene. I like mixed flourescent green and sodium vapor lighting.
1:30am: Finish up with some B-roll, stand and eat a taco. Shoulder tingling, shirt is soaked. Cold beer while riding home in van.
Monday, July 30. New Orleans, Louisiana.
9:30am: AC's warm up air-conditioned cameras and lenses with a crappy hair dryer. Equipment van is a disaster which is a no-no. Messy bed, messy head as they say in rehab. Let's sort this out.
10am: Back in cab, struggling with extremely high contrast two-shot again, trying smooth out bumps from middle-front seat, coiled XLR cables tangled with my head phones, I'm nearly sitting on driver's lap. Can't feel legs, grinding teeth. (SOS, need sound person).
11am: Strip mall, Pho Tau Bay. Insert shot of steaming bowl of Pho noodles. Long end of 30-80mm not quite long enough to keep us out of each others frames. Find good back grounds, dirty OTS good. Between heat index and condiments feels a bit like Vietnam. Our iconic shot, one that hangs in my memory like a blended-up dream, is Tony in one of many far-off markets, getting mesmerized over a bowl of something like this. I need strong coffee, ice, swirling condensed milk. We eat.
1pm: Taxi again to Frozen Daquiri stand. Cab shots are a pain but I really like them in the show. Nice verite moments. This is classic Bourdain solo scene, sitting alone talking to camera, giant foam cup, I'm on the 16-42mm. Wide shot for comedy, says Chaplin. Agreed, long lens not funny. Tom hands over the Travel Guide, which Tom likes because Tony hates it, and Tony hates because Tom insists on it. This is deemed stove piping, a futile attempt to force content upon Tony. Never works, but the collision of wills, always very funny. A surgeon in scrubs walks up to counter in background and orders a massive Daquiri. Yes, reality is better than fiction.
3:30pm: Frenchman Street. Classic walk around the neighborhood. Bourdain barely tolerant of these B-roll walks. Though great for V.O., doesn't want to stand around whilst we find an angle, which I concur, we have no time to waste time. Rule: I have one shot at walks, get everything I can, it's all going in the show. Vary shots, count the seconds, don't bone focus, swerve hazards, don't over-expose, miss curbs, steps, trees, keep it level, don't get hit by a car. Bourdain hates us walking backwards, despite fact we're in full control of our trajectory, always watching. It brings him great angst as he feels personally responsible for our safety and others, "baby stroller!" "Old lady on left!" "Stop, tree!" Ironically, he never walks just a little slower to help us out. There's no second takes in life either.
4pm: Bourdain on break for moment, giving us chance to scout another bar and connect with Jeremy (Camera) who is swapping out with Jerry tomorrow. We discuss last minute lights at Cochon. Since it's only an eye light, we can cross-key from about thirty feet away with small LED fresnels. Jeremy hides them up high, ratchet strapping them to columns. They sort-of look natural, I'm hoping Tony won't notice.
5pm: Ate shrimp etoufee at Praline Connection. Jared, looking after his crew, insists we take a break from the heat.
7pm: Sazerac Bar. Adjust dimmer levels in bar so we can shoot on zooms. Going with the risky "French Over" camera blocking which puts the characters at the bar and us behind them, as opposed to us behind the bar. This works only if characters can "cheat out" towards camera and not turn their backs to us. Bourdain never, ever cheats out or opens up to camera. Famously, he'll completely turn his back on us. He says camera blocking is "Fascist." Keeps it real I guess. I cheat out his guest Davis, and open Tony's seat out. Gamble and win?
7:30pm: Bourdain comes in, says a friendly hello, lets me mic him, sits and immediately turns his chair towards the bar. Goddamn it. I try going longer on the zoom and clock around Davis so I can see two of Tony's eyes. Hate to carry a whole scene in profile. If he would just open up, just a bit. Nope. Conversation is good, scene looks fine. Reality is not perfect, but I am a perfectionist. I accept, and that's the zen of a bar scene.
9pm: Cochon. Darkish, eye lights look great, we're wide open on the zooms, hard shadows well placed but work against the illusion of reality. Could be more contrast, we'll bring it back in post. Unknown to Bourdain, Bourdain looks good. It's not my taste for things to appear lit. Don't like unmotivated backlights unless I'm lighting a Noir. Tony nor I like disturbing life's petri dish with overt lighting, but here I am breaking my own rules. I constantly consider what is more important in art: consistency in a chosen form, or the creative impulsiveness to snatch beauty? Dude, it's just an eye light. Or is it? Food tastes great regardless.
11pm: That's a wrap on Mr. Bourdain, for he and Tom this Layover is over. We have a mini wrap party as the heavy lifting is done, we will stay on, pick up B-Roll and the alternate locations Tony has recommended. Donald (the chef) provides a huge spread for us and joins for Bourbon shots and beers. In years of travel, I've realized you can judge a culture by how much they want to feed you. Some people couldn't care less if you eat, other people literally refuse to continue a scene unless everyone stops and eats something. A chef's ego wants things to taste good, their heart wants to feed you. A cinematographer's ego wants to make things beautiful, their heart just wants to tell the truth.
2am: Bourdain flat-out refuses, but crew makes their way to Bourbon Street. Yes, we know. Jerry and Tom are leaving and our youngest member, Erik, has never been to New Orleans before. In the interests of science we'd all like to see how this unfolds. No, you should definitely try hand grenades. No, barely any alcohol in Daiquiris. Eventually Erik is drawn into a bar by one of the rough and busty test-tube shot girls. She puts four tubes in her own mouth and draws Erik in tight, pouring mouth to mouth. Kinky. Erik pumps fists, hacks, grimaces and pulls a large, blue wad of used chewing gum from his mouth. And...laryngeal spasm.
Tuesday, July 31. New Orleans, Louisiana.
9:30am: Cab to Cafe du Monde. Touristy, but love this place, always go when in town. Like the bitter chicory coffee and sweet powdered sugar. Sweating and drinking hot coffee feels South Asia. Good to have a moment to not think, rest eyes. Hard to get out of looking for next shot state of mind.
10:30am: Call time, split crews to divide and conquer B-roll and Alternates. In this no-Bourdain vacuum we're like a pack of greyhounds sulking around after the hare has disappeared. I do miss the man.
12pm: I'm standing in the street, in a place that is not home, looking around for a way to describe it. This is the core of my work: the walkabout. Me and camera. A translator in some places, always good to have a local. Abroad I'll memorize key words. May I, thank-you, delicious, beautiful, good morning. People like the effort. This is classic street photography; get with the people. Moments. Interactions are everything, I enjoy chatting with strangers. As in most hot climates, there isn't a soul under the mid-day sun. Who shoots B-roll at noon time? I encounter a man who constructed a catapult so Hunter S. Thompson could shoot flying dinner plates with his .45. They did many drugs. Big fan of the show Good time to shoot window shutters and doors. Like the iron work.
3pm: Ran all over city. Now on a wide shot from river bank opposite the city. Mayflies. Need more clouds. I stand around with a towel over my head waiting for a time lapse to finish. I think my brain is poaching. Stranger told me the heat is population control.
7pm: Head to Cochon to pick up the kitchen work we missed last night. Working on the line is a familiar place; can't imagine how many kitchens I've shot. Hundreds. Can tell things taste good by the way they look. Being out of the way is a source of pride. My grandfather spent his life as a chef, being by the fire makes me feel close to him. 30-80mm zoom needs to be a bit longer. Wait for moments. I like a cook's concentration. Rule: good food will look good; shoot it hot, don't fuck with it. Find some shape or a backlight. Never slow the line down. If something important happens too fast the audience won't understand; if needed, ask for key moments just a bit slower. Make repeating things rare. Don't be a burden, don't get burned, pay attention. There is a best way to shoot each thing, each thing has its own way.
11pm: Jared and I arrive at Maple Leaf. Gets packed. Sauna-hot. Very hard for a camera to bring energy to a place with no energy. This is not that. Love shooting musicians, especially raw and raucous one like Rebirth Brass Band. Easy to get lost in coverage. Great faces, moody red lighting, sweaty people, thrashing trombone slides. 135mm Prime. Without a fast camera, it's a world we never see.
Wednesday, August 1. New Orleans, Louisiana.
11am: Dooky Chase, Restaurant Alternate. Mrs. Leah Chase was deep in thought when we entered the kitchen, her eyes brightened right up seeing us. People are my favorite aspect of work. I get tired; people give me joy and energy. Mrs. Chase wants me to try the mustard sauce she's throwing together. I imagine she reminds many people of their grandmothers. Photographically, I want to do by best by people. She takes my hands and makes me eat some of her shrimp etouffee. The art we collect says much about us. Standing in the dining room, can't recall being as struck by the art in another restaurant, or someone's house. There's so much life on the walls. Mrs. Chase tells me travel shows are so important because people have to mix things up; mix up ideas, mix up recipes. Being around her, eating her food, I am happy.
1:30pm: Standing in the sun, shooting tall buildings. How can we see the same thing differently? I shoot a hotel Alternate Scene. Shooting these gets difficult, we shoot many, and do it quickly. How to capture a place in ten shots? How to stay creative in volume, stick to format and still be inventive? The endurance is more mind than muscle. I can always find more economy and clarity in camerawork; that's what makes it beautiful.
4pm: Frenchman Street B-roll and the Marigny. Everyone says the neighborhood is changing; we see this all over the world. Hope the high rises cab stay out. I'm surging sweat. What's the relationship between discomfort and breaking down creative barriers?
5pm: Snug Harbor Alternate. Need to shoot our friend Davis playing the piano. He's deep in shadow, right up against the white-hot door. Impossible contrast, what can I do? Can't move piano, can't move door, no time to gel or control the glass. Very hard to let it go. I'm sure I think it's worse than it is. I shoot S-Log. He'll look good.
6pm: Buffa's Lounge for late lunch. Love this place. No frills. Solid, delicious, working-class meal. So what if I'm eating jambalaya again, classics are classics for a reason. I like unpretentious food.
8pm: Shoot Sazerac pick-ups. Shoot nighttime B-roll. Shoot time lapse of moon. Shoot from highway. Wander. Looking for vantage points, it helps to have a local.
Thursday, August 2. New Orleans, Louisiana.
8am: Haven't eaten enough in the last few days; too hot, running around, eating late in the day. Body needs more calories. Warm plate in hand, I stand before the hotel's egg station. I imagine Bourdain's head looming large over the steam tables, projected like the Wizard of Oz. He is laughing diabolically, he is Ming the Merciless of Hotel Buffets. This will haunt me. I am joke-fodder.
10am: Atchafalaya Restaurant, Brunch Alternative Scene. Very pretty food, chef's great. I'm at the table shooting Jared slowly cut open a hard boiled egg perched on some crispy hash. I watch him gingerly plow through a plate of beautiful shrimp and grits. A snapper. Some duck. Ming the Merciless towers over the table. "What's wrong Zamboni, no appetite? Bwahh-Hah... Bwah-Hah-Hah!" Poof. Smoke.
11:30am: We have become pressed for time. I'm wandering up and down side streets looking for houses to shoot some interviews in front of. Need shade. Need an interesting composition and a house that feels right for the subject. Symmetry is comedy. Not all lenses are funny. A 21MM lens 6ft from subject is funny. It's humanistic. I'll give it just a little too much headroom. I like to shoot T4.0. We would never survive our schedule without constant humor. Working for Bourdain is both extremely demanding and extremely funny. Crew members without dark, sullied, sarcastic or exceptionally dry senses of humor tend to miss rotation. Shit jokes keep us close, dermal penetration jokes keep us closer.
1pm: French Quarter, looking for more interview spots. Streets are dead. Shuttered doors and windows work for symmetry. Working with sun position; need to find a building with shadow deep enough to keep subject comfortable in shade, get some separation with wall, keep me out of traffic. Hard to find. We get all ready to go in front of a nice buttoned up door. Door opens, man asks us to move. Also offers a Pimm's Cup cocktail. Run around, find another spot meeting parameters. Radial saw wails, followed by hammering and yelling. Move again. It starts to rain. The gods of television are angered. Something must be sacrificed to appease them. Volunteers?
6:30pm: Jared takes to us to Lola's for paella. Fantastic. Gazpacho is best I've had outside of Spain. It cools my blood.
8:30pm: Shoot Zydeco night at Rock 'n' Bowl. Bartenders hula hoop on bar. Geno Delafose and French Rockin Boogie are very spirited, everyone dances. Big Lebowski changed bowling photography forever. Cheers to Roger Deakins.
10pm: Tipitina's. So much history, need to do it justice. Good crowd, not huge, will stay on the long lens. Moon looks terrific.
12am: One Eyed Jacks, another classic. Bouncer Jeff recognizes me from Maine show, wants to go hunting up there. Acadians unite. Shooting in clubs always a challenge. Don't want to steal peoples identities, don't want to be asshole going around asking for permission. Keep it abstract, if needed make eye contact and get a nod.
1:30am: Wrap. On the drive home I'm falling asleep, laying across the back seat of a speeding van. I've been here so many times; different places but same place. The world is rushing below me, soon I'll be trying to catch it.
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Company founder and managing member Izetta Chambers is the driving force behind Naknek Family Fisheries. She organized the LLC in October 2006 and has been managing it seasonally since that time. Izetta is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 2008. Izetta serves as the MAP Agent/Assistant Professor for the Marine Advisory Program, an extension partnership between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant program. Izetta lives in Dillingham with her husband, Chet, their children, Noah and Lovina. Izetta (a.k.a. "the fish lady") has participated in the Bristol Bay fishery since the age of 9 years old, when she began setnet salmon fishing with her brother, Everett Thompson. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/17/food-informants-izetta-chambers_n_3562289.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Izetta's diary here</a>.</strong>
Dominique Ansel, Cronut Maestro
Dominique Ansel served as the Executive Pastry Chef for Restaurant Daniel under chef Daniel Boulud for six years. During his tenure, the restaurant won its first 3-star Michelin rating, a 4-star New York Times review and James Beard's Outstanding Restaurant of the Year Award in 2010. In 2013, Chef Ansel received his own James Beard Award nomination as a finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef at his eponymous bakery. (Pictured is a DKA, not a cronut). <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/food-informants-dominique-ansel-cronut_n_3562955.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Dominique's diary here</a>.</strong>
Sarah Allman, Pastry Chef At A Diamond Mine
Sarah Allman has been baking in her own kitchen, bakeries and high-end restaurants for the past 12 years. A native of Peterborough, Ontario (an hour outside of Toronto), she developed her passion for baking at a young age, unknowingly apprenticing with her great grandmother at the age of eight. In February, she left her job at a bakery five kilometers from her home to bake her wares over 3500 km away, at Diavik Diamond Mine, 200 km from the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories. The only thing she loves more than being in the kitchen is being with her four kids, which is why she took the job with the longer commute. She works a two-week rotation at the Diamond Mine, which allow her to spend two work-free weeks with her kids every month. When she worked at the bakery she was starting her day at 7am and on Saturdays -- this left only one full day with her kids. Working at Diavik for Bouwa Whee Catering, she continues to be a mom at home and it extends to her work family at the mine, who love her baked goods and eat more than their share. Her peanut butter brownie cups have become a mine favorite, to the point that workers stock up before they head home. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/02/food-informants-sarah-allman_n_3518272.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Sarah's diary here</a>.</strong>
Izabela Wojcik, James Beard Director Of House Programming
Izabela A. Wojcik is the Director of House Programming for the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 that is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing and preserving America's diverse culinary heritage and future. Wojcik oversees more than 250 special events held at the historic James Beard House, which features chefs, pastry chefs and winemakers from across the United States and beyond. In her role as head of House programming, Wojcik has a rolodex of culinary and beverage professionals from around the world. Part of her responsibility is engaging in constant dialogue with influencers in the epicurean industry, thereby, staying on top of the latest gastronomic trends. Wojcik frequently appears on panels concerning food and cooking. She holds a B.S. degree from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, New York. Her culinary experience also includes positions at Marriott and Omni Hotels, Tribeca Grill and Osteria del Circo restaurants. A self-taught chef, she is proud to have been selected to cook at the four-star Chanterelle, as well as First in New York. Wojcik resides in Brooklyn with her journalist husband and son. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/food-informants-izabela-wojcik_n_3466547.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Izabela's diary here</a>.</strong>
Larry Austin, Whole Foods Detroit Store Manager
Larry Austin got his start in the grocery world as a bagger, cashier and stocker at the Detroit chain Farmer Jack's in 1988. He headed to Ann Arbor soon after and stocked the grocery, dairy and frozen sections at Arbor Farms for a few years before joining Whole Foods Market's Ann Arbor store as a receiver in 1999. Larry worked his way up from receiver to grocery buyer and eventually Grocery Team Leader, then went on to manage multiple departments in various stores across the Midwest. Now he's running the show as Store Team Leader -- that's what the people at Whole Foods Market call the store manager -- at the company's highly anticipated Detroit store, which opened June 5. Larry's at the helm. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/12/food-informant-larry-austin-whole-foods-detroit_n_3385005.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Larry's diary here</a>.</strong>
Jay Isais, Senior Director Of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Nearly seven million pounds of coffee beans pass under Jay Isais's eyes and nose each year at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf's Research and Distribution facility in Camarillo, CA. Isais oversees the blending and roasting of all of those beans. Isais began his career in the early '80s with Hillside Coffee. He then held operations management and buying positions at Brother's Gourmet, Gloria Jean's, Coffee People Worldwide, and Diedrich Coffee before joining The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in 2000. Isais's primary responsibility day to day is making sure the quality of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's coffee is, as he says, "perfect from start to finish." To accomplish this, he evaluates shipments of green beans, working with Master Roaster Jesse Martinez-Beltran on finding the perfect roasts for each varietal, or blend, and tasting the brewed product. Isais also spends much of his time sourcing coffee from the finest coffee farms around the world, establishing and maintaining one-on-one relationships with coffee growers at the points of origin -- a hallmark of the company's philosophy. Isais is a founding member of the Roasters' Guild, is a volunteer instructor for the Specialty Coffee Association of America and a certified judge for the Cup of Excellence® program. He is also a licensed Q grader and an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional. Isais is additionally a judge at cupping competitions around the world, most recently the Hawaii Coffee Association's cupping competition. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/food-informants-jay-isais-coffee-bean-tea-life_n_3354978.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Jay's diary here</a>.</strong>
Aaron Franklin, Barbecue Guru
Aaron and his wife Stacy debuted Franklin BBQ in late 2009 on an East Austin parking lot. From the walk-up window of a travel trailer turned brisket stand, patrons quickly noticed the Franklins were selling the best barbecue around. By spring, the line of admirers snaked around the block, and the press followed. In less than two years, the duo could count contributors from The Washington Post, Texas Monthly, and Cooking Channel among a growing chorus hailing Franklin among America's BBQ elite--mentioned in the breath as Smitty's, Kreuz's and other stalwart temples to the holy craft of smoked meat that line the Central Texas brisket belt. In the summer of 2010, Bon Appetit hailed Franklin BBQ as the best in America. Aaron and Stacy quickly outgrew their trailer, and moved their operation to a brick and mortar location in March of 2011. And despite the new digs and every reasonable effort to increase production, Franklin BBQ's line is as long as ever, and the restaurant has sold out of brisket every day of its existence. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/29/food-informants-aaron-franklin-barbecue_n_3346669.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Aaron's diary here</a>.</strong>
Daniel Boulud, Chef
Daniel Boulud, a native of Lyon, France, is today considered one of America's leading culinary authorities and one of the most revered French chefs in New York, the city he has called home since 1982. Daniel is chef-owner of db Bistro Moderne, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Bar Boulud, Café Boulud, Boulud Sud and Épicerie Boulud. In all his restaurants you'll find the warm welcome the chef is renowned for, combined with traces of the soulfully satisfying traditional cooking he grew up with on his family's Rhône Valley farm. Yet Daniel Boulud is best known for New York's exquisitely refined DANIEL, the three Michelin-star Relais & Châteaux restaurant. You'll also discover the chef's French-American cooking in Miami and Palm Beach, Florida and internationally in London, Singapore, Beijing, Montréal and Toronto. Boulud is the author of seven cookbooks, the recipient of three James Beard Foundation awards, including Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurateur and was named a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French government, as well as Chef of the Year 2011 by The Culinary Institute of America. He is a generous and energetic supporter of Citymeals-on-Wheels, serving on their board of directors since 2000 and is also co-founder and Chairman of the Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/food-informants-daniel-boulud_n_3306825.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Daniel's diary here</a>.</strong>
Josh Reynolds, President Of World's Largest Maraschino Cherry Company
Josh Reynolds is the president of Gray & Company, home of the CherryMan brand and producer of more than two billion maraschino cherries a year. Although Gray & Company started in Oregon in 1908, Josh's family has been involved since 1982. After graduating from Colby College, Josh worked as a producer and on-air talent for one of Portland's top radio stations. He returned to the family business in 1996, earned his MBA from the University of Michigan in 2001, and was promoted to president in 2008. As president, Josh directs sales, marketing, operations strategy and all new product development initiatives. Outside of work and cherries, you'll find Josh spending time with family, volunteering in the Portland community, staying in shape and playing music. Josh is currently involved with the I Have a Dream Foundation of Oregon, the National Cherry Growers and Industries Foundation, and the Young President's Organization Oregon Evergreen Chapter. For all his accomplishments in both business and the community, Josh was named one of Portland Business Journal's "Forty Under 40." Married with two sons, Josh relishes spending their weekends on Mt. Hood where they ski, hike and relax. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/food-informants-josh-reynolds-cherry_n_3196199.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Josh's diary here</a>.</strong>
Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, Living On $1.50 Per Day
Actress Debi Mazar and her Tuscan-born husband, Gabriele Corcos host "Extra Virgin" on the Cooking Channel. They recently participated in the Live Below The Line Challenge, a campaign that encourages people to think about poverty in new ways. They each had $1.50 per day to spend on food -- the U.S. equivalent of the extreme poverty line. As a family of four, their weekly budget was $30 for five days of meals. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/08/food-informants-debi-mazar_n_3209264.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Gabriele & Debi's diary here</a>.</strong>
Paul Tanguay & Tad Carducci, Cocktail Consultants
Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci are beverage consultants and partners in Mercadito Hospitality group. In this role, they create and manage the beverage programs at the group's concepts throughout the country, including Tavernita, Little Market Brasserie and Mercadito in Chicago as well as Mercadito in Miami and New York. Most recently, the Bros. and the Mercadito Hospitality group are currently developing Tippling Hall, a new concept in Chicago's River North neighborhood that will debut later this summer. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/01/food-informants-tippling-bros_n_3154728.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Paul & Tad's diary here</a>.</strong>
Heather Bailie, Fatted Calf Charcuterie Director of Operations
Heather Bailie discovered a passion for all things meat as a young girl. Inspired by her father and grandfather's hunting adventures, Bailie learned at an early age that cooking and butchery are about mindful involvement in what you eat. This philosophy followed her throughout her culinary career. After obtaining a degree from the California Culinary Academy in 2006, she worked in Michelin one-star restaurants -- Acquerello in San Francisco and Ubuntu in Napa -- before changing course to learn butchery and charcuterie full-time. Yearning to get back to her roots, she pursued work with Toponia Miller and Taylor Boetticher at their artisanal charcuterie in Napa, The Fatted Calf. Working at the Fatted Calf that gave Bailie her foundation for cooking, but also life: work hard, work smart, do your best, never underestimate your abilities, and then work even harder! Bailie quickly moved up the ranks; she was promoted to Kitchen Manager and then Production Manager. In 2012, she was made Director of Operations and Partner. She oversees the Fatted Calf's two retail stores in Napa and San Francisco and a team of 40 skilled meat enthusiasts company wide. Together the stores produce a variety of handcrafted salumi, sausage, pates, confits and roasts, as well as fresh cuts of pork, lamb, beef and poultry. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/food-informants-heather-bailie-fatter-calf_n_2992356.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Heather's diary here</a>.</strong>
David Padberg, Executive Chef Of New Restaurant
Raven & Rose Chef David Padberg is a veteran of some of Portland, Oregon's greatest restaurants. Beginning his career as a pastry chef in Kansas City, he quickly moved up the line. In short succession, he trained with James Beard Award winning chefs, at a Swiss chalet, and with Wildwood's Cory Schreiber, developing his palate and skill with seasonal ingredients. In 2003 Padberg became the opening sous-chef at clarklewis. In 2004 he was hired by Park Kitchen's Scott Dolich as Executive Chef, where he was known as "One of the great forces that moved Park Kitchen forward." Now at the recently-opened Raven & Rose, Padberg's menu reflects both the history of the 1883 Ladd Carriage House as well as the traditions of rustic cuisine -- taking inspiration from both early American farmhouse cooking and the culinary traditions of Ireland and the British Isles. <strong>Read David's diary here.</strong>
Thomas Szymanski, Celebrity Cruises' Senior Traveling Corporate Executive Chef
"Working as a chef on a ship is unlike anything I've experienced on land. I spend time in kitchens all over the world's oceans, and from the moment you step onboard, it's rock-and-roll, and I don't mean the ship moving. I mean it's crazy fast, so intense sometimes that you can't even believe the day has passed. And it's like music, fast and rich and full of life. Music is my thing. I cook with it, I hear it even when it's not playing, it's in my head. Food cooked with music stirring the soul is food cooked with extra passion. There's not much difference between a chef and an orchestra conductor. We're both artists in what we do, and we both are at the center of many critical pieces, parts and players. When it all works together, it's pure harmony, from the bottom of the heart. So how did I get here? I was born in the small town of Konskie, Poland. As a little boy, I spent much time in my mother's kitchen. I'll never forget the cheese crepes she made in the mornings, the smell would make sure that I would get out of bed and get right to work. At the age of 15, I discovered my passion for food, when helping on my grandparents' farm, with butchery. I then moved to Germany to help my sisters with their restaurants. Since then, I've worked with many great chefs, and have been trained in French and European techniques. In 20 years as a chef, I've learned many styles, including modern approaches such as molecular gastronomy and sous-vide - and here I am. And it's been a long, road to where I am today, in Hawaii, on Celebrity Century. I can't even begin to count all the countries I've visited in the last 20 years. A few days ago, I was in South America, in Montevideo, Uruguay, where I left Celebrity Infinity, flew to San Diego, and on to Hawaii, where I boarded Celebrity Century to provide leadership to our hardworking team of cooks." <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/food-informants-thomas-szymanski_n_2828207.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Thomas' diary here</a>.</strong>
David Harwell, Loews Concierge
David Harwell joined Loews Miami Beach Hotel four years ago starting out as a Front Desk Agent and then moving to Concierge. He currently belongs to the 100% Club, meaning he has been mentioned by the Corporate Mystery Shopper as someone who has provided outstanding service. In 2012, David was nominated and awarded the most prestigious honor that could be bestowed to any Loews Team member, The Loews Legend Award. David is not only passionate for his job as a Concierge but he also loves living in Miami Beach where he gets the opportunity to walk his beloved and very spoiled Italian greyhound "Samsom." Living in the middle of South Beach, David often thinks about things that would create a more lasting good impression on visitors. He believes a more efficient transportation system would make it easier for them to have access to other popular South Florida destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Keys. David was born and raised in a small town called Luka in Northeast Mississippi. He was raised by his parents and has a close relationship with his older brother and younger sister, and as David tells us, he is "crazy over his niece and nephew," whom he spoils at every chance he gets. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/food-informants-david-harwell_n_2790295.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read David's diary here</a>.</strong>
Maile Carpenter, Editor-In-Chief Of Food Network Magazine
Maile Carpenter is the founding editor-in-chief of Food Network Magazine, a joint venture between Hearst Magazines and Food Network. The magazine launched in 2008 and quickly became the best-selling food title on newsstands. Prior to joining Hearst, Carpenter was the executive editor of Every Day with Rachael Ray. She started her career in newspapers, at the Wilmington Morning Star and Raleigh News & Observer in North Carolina, followed by Time Inc's FYI magazine, San Francisco Magazine and Time Out New York. Carpenter has a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute in New York. She is a two-time James Beard Award nominee and won a Beard Award for magazine feature writing in 2002. She lives in Manhattan with her chef-husband, Wylie Dufresne, and their two daughters. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27/food-informants-maile-carpenter_n_2745020.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Maile's diary here</a>.</strong>
Harley Morenstein, Epic Meal Time Founder
Harley Morenstein, the host of the #1 online cooking show Epic Meal Time, started his career as a substitute teacher surrounding the metropolitan area of Montreal, Quebec. Harley stumbled upon Epic Meal Time after creating a Fast Food Pizza with his sidekick Muscles Glasses. The buzz from the first episode prompted Harley and his team to dedicate their lives full-time to all things Epic Meal Time. Every Tuesday Harley and the EMT team release a new episode of the show. They have also successfully launched a new cooking competition series called Epic Chef, and have grown an audience of over 3.5 million subscribers to date and counting on YouTube. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/food-informants-epic-meal-time_n_2697765.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Harley's diary here</a>.</strong>
Kenneth 'Cat Daddy' Pogson And Tres Shannon, Voodoo Doughnut Founders
Kenneth "Cat Daddy" Pogson and Tres Shannon have been friends for awhile. They always wanted to start a business together. Something that would fit into an extraordinary Portland business climate. Something fun, different and one for the ages. After much searching under rocks, tequilas, and Portland's under belly, they found what they were looking for... doughnuts!! Cat Daddy with his astute business sense, and Tres with his seemingly endless supply of connections, set forth to conquer Old Town, Portland. After a meeting with some Armenians and drumming masters, they were ready to set up shop in the "crotch" of Portland -- Old Town. Voodoo Doughnut is now coming up on it's 10th year of business. Cat Daddy loves spending time with his family and is a former roller derby, game show, & Portland organic wrestling announcer. Tres hosts Karaoke From Hell every Monday night at Dante's and is former owner of the famous all ages club, the X-Ray. Both Cat Daddy and Tres Enjoy life to it's fullest. World Doughnut Domination! <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/food-informants-voodoo-doughnut_n_2580998.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read their diary here.</a></strong>
Chris Rivard, Ben & Jerry's Flavor Guru
Chris Rivard graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition & Food Sciences and Dietetics. He spent the first four years of his career working for a local nutrition company focused on providing high quality, functional food products to companies in the weight management industry. Chris then joined Ben & Jerry's R&D team, which is made up of five "Flavor Gurus" that are responsible for the product development and the quality problem solving across the business. Chris's primary focus is on global markets (Australia, Singapore and Japan, among others) as well as new market implementation. But R&D is very much a team effort: they all work together on new flavor innovations across all regions. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/food-informants-ben-jerrys-chris-rivard_n_2541809.html?1359578771" target="_hplink">Read Chris's diary here.</a></strong>
Ashley Palmer, PETA Employee
Ashley Palmer is the online marketing manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Palmer oversees all of PETA's web projects, including the wildly popular "Sexiest Vegetarian" series of contests, online campaign initiatives, and celebrity features and videos. She got her start as the top coordinator for PETA Living, the lifestyle section of PETA's award-winning website, where her efforts resulted in a 1,100 percent increase in traffic to the PETA Living blog and accounts for 50 percent of all traffic to PETA.org. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Kevin, and two cat companions, Bo and Henry. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/food-informants-ashley-palmer-peta_n_2495951.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Ashley's diary here</a>.</strong>
Tink Pinkard, Professional Hunter & Fly-Fisher
Tink Pinkard is a professional hunting and fly-fishing guide located in the Texas Hill Country. His focus is to provide hunters the opportunity to hunt and harvest white tail deer, exotic species and feral hogs in a fair chase situation. He strives to not only educate a hunter on the basics of the hunt and harvest, but to promote and educate on the utilization of the complete animal "from nose to tail." He aims to do the same for his clients on the waters throughout Texas when he guides them fly-fishing. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/food-informants-tink-pinkard_n_2372755.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Tink's diary here</a>.</strong>
Matthew DuTrumble, Executive Chef Of Zynga
Matthew "Matty" DuTrumble has been the Executive Chef for Zynga -- the company that creates online games such as FarmVille and ChefVille -- since joining the team in 2009. At Zynga, Matthew leads a team focused on menu development, local product sourcing and cooking multiple meals and snacks. He joined Zynga after serving as a Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu CCA in San Francisco. At Le Cordon Bleu CCA, Matthew focused on a broad range of disciplines, including Kitchen Production, Butchery, Banquets & Catering and Contemporary Cuisine. Matthew has appeared on The Food Network's "Private Chefs of Beverly Hills," and also ran his own catering company Matty's Fresh Meals Catering. Additionally, Matthew has served as a Chef at the Harker School, and spent time in the kitchens of The West Deck in Newport, Rhode Island, and Caffe Itri in Cranston, Rhode Island. Matthew studied at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he obtained his culinary and business degrees. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/food-informants-matthew-dutrumble-zynga_n_2193463.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Matthew's diary here</a>.</strong>
Gregory Hall, Cider Maker
Gregory Hall, a craft brewer, is now at the helm of Virtue Brands, the new Chicago-based branch-to-bottle cider venture that uses Midwestern heirloom apples to produce a series of ciders. In his new role as ciderist, Hall hopes to bring craft cider to the level where craft beer is today in America in terms of quality, variety and accessibility to the consumer. Known for his 20-year tenure as brewmaster at the Goose Island Beer Company, Hall began his brewing career in 1988, the year his father, John Hall, opened the brewery. Greg attended Chicago's brewing school, the Siebel Institute, graduating in 1989. In 1992, Hall become the brewmaster of Goose Island Beer Company and under his direction, the brewery flourished and expanded its draft and bottle beer lines. Hall stepped down as Brewmaster of Goose Island in May 2011 to pursue cider making. He maintains his ties to Goose Island as a consultant. Greg Hall is a long-time supporter Chicago food community and many local organizations such as Slow Food Chicago, Chicago's Green City Market and the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project. He is an avid cyclist and currently resides in Chicago with his two children -- Sofie and Henry. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/21/food-informants-gregory-hall-cider_n_2144649.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read more about Greg's week here.</a></strong>
Christophe Hille, Restaurant Owner Post-Sandy
Christophe Hille is the founder and co-owner of Northern Spy Food Co. in New York's East Village. Before opening Northern Spy, Hille was a personal chef to Annie Leibovitz and the executive chef of A16 in San Francisco. He holds an MS in Nutrition & Food Studies from New York University. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/food-informants-christophe-hill-northern-spy-sandy_n_2119497.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Christophe's diary here.</a></strong>
Steve Smith, Tea Maker
Steve Smith is one of the world's leading tea makers and entrepreneurs. In 1972, Smith was a young partner in the first natural foods store in Portland. Expanding on these roots -- and the joys of tea learned from his grandmother and time spent in Southeast Asia -- he and two partners founded the Stash Tea Company. The trio introduced herbal and specialty black teas to retail and food service accounts throughout North America, eventually growing to become one of the largest-selling food service specialty tea brands in the country. When Stash was acquired in 1993 by Yamamotoyama, the oldest tea company in Japan, Smith left to pursue a new vision, which came to be known as Tazo. Smith is credited in developing over 60 proprietary blends in multiple beverage formats -- many of which remain Tazo's top selling teas today. In January of 1999 Tazo was acquired by Starbucks, and Smith and his team continued to lead the company until January of 2006. Parting ways with Starbucks and Tazo in 2006, Smith moved to Avignon with his wife, Kim and their 10-year-old son. But after a year, the path of tea called them all back to Portland. He's now perfecting his new signature line: Steven Smith Teamaker. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/food-informants-steven-smith-tea-maker_n_2065393.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Steve's diary here.</a></strong>
Jenny McCoy, Pastry Chef
Jenny McCoy is a New York City-based professional pastry chef turned home baker. She's the co-founder of Cissé Trading Company, a cookbook author, culinary instructor and authority on all things sweet. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/food-informants-jenny-mccoy-cisse-trading_n_2009096.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Jenny's diary here.</a></strong>
Lee Schrager, New York Wine & Food Festival Founder
Lee Brian Schrager serves as the Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. He joined the company in 2000 and oversees projects for the company in all 35 states in which it does business. Most noteworthy in Schrager's resume is his creation of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in 2002 and the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival in 2008. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/food-informants-lee-schrager_n_1989586.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Lee's diary here.</a></strong>
David Venable, QVC Host
David Venable is the host of the popular QVC program "In The Kitchen With David" which airs every Wednesday at 9pm and Sundays at noon. David Venable joined QVC as a program host in 1993 and has since helped establish and build the multimedia retailer's gourmet food business. Venable also serves as a primary host for other QVC programming. Prior to joining QVC, Venable was an anchor/reporter for WOAY -- TV in Oak Hill, W. Va., and CBS-affiliate WTAJ -- TV in Altoona, Pa., where he hosted its weekly public affairs talk show "Action Newsmakers." He also hosted the Children's Miracle Network telethon for four years. Venable earned his bachelor's degree in radio, television and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. He just released his debut cookbook which has been flying off the shelves. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/david-venable-food-informants_n_1959484.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read David's diary here.</a></strong>
Kareem Hajjar, Restaurant Lawyer
Kareem T. Hajjar's bar and restaurant law practice includes the representation of approximately 400 bars and restaurants located throughout Texas and includes the formation of corporate entities, real estate acquisition and leasing, zoning and other land use and municipal issues, trademark acquisitions, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission permit acquisition, employment agreements, mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations to private offerings of debt and equity securities, venture capital transactions and contract negotiations. Kareem has served on the Board of Directors of the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, the Advisory Council for the Texas Wine and Food Festival, the Leadership Council for the Ronald McDonald House of Austin, the Board of Directors for FloralBurst, the Membership Committee of the Texas Food and Wine Foundation, and the Bulletproof Committee for the Lone Star of Texas Rodeo. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/food-informants-restaurant-lawyer_n_1933294.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Kareem's diary here.</a></strong>
Carolyn Ottenheimer, Kettle Brand Chip's Chief Flavor Architect
Carolyn Ottenheimer is the Chief Flavor Architect for Kettle Brand Chips in Salem, Oregon. She's responsible for developing and defining the flavor and quality attributes of all Kettle Brand products -- the base snack and the seasoning blends that are applied to the various flavors. She also defines the quality standards of all of the products and ensures that the process facilities have tools with which to monitor chip quality. She confirms that all of the products meet the claims that are being made on the packaging -- like "gluten free." Finally, she checks that production facilities have food safety programs. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/food-informants-carolyn-ottenheimer_n_1911190.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Carolyn's diary here.</a></strong>
Emil Grosso, Balducci's Food Buyer
As Vice President of Business Development for Balducci's, Emil Grosso is in charge of scouring and searching for the purveyors of quality available across the U.S. and around the world. From farms to fields to forests, he selects foods for Balducci's markets and catering services -- handpicking the best coffee beans, artisan breads and produce. Now, Emil is also sourcing quality ingredients for Balducci's Gourmet on the Go Café, the latest Balducci's food destination in New York City. The Café opened this past March, and it marked the return of Balducci's gourmet foods to Manhattan and was conceptualized and realized by Emil over the past two years. The new Café, located in the Hearst Tower on the corner of 56th Street and Eighth Avenue, serves an array of foods, made with locally sourced produce from New York City urban farmers and features breads and pastries from the city's best bakeries. Emil is constantly on the road, meeting new people in the food world and taking a lot of trips to find the best-of-the-best throughout the country to bring back to NYC. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/food-informants-emil-grosso_n_1861861.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Emil's diary here.</a></strong>
Eric Brenner, Gluten-Free Chef
Chef Eric Brenner has multiple food allergies in his family and years of experience cooking for food-sensitive restaurant customers. Named the 2008 Top Chef and Chef of the Year by multiple publications in St. Louis for his former restaurant MOXY Contemporary Bistro, he has now brought his culinary style to BOLD Organics, a line of gluten-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, casein-free, whey-free, egg-free, peanut-free and tree nut-free frozen pizzas that contain no GMOs, preservatives, nitrites, nitrates or trans-fats. Working together with 21-year-old company founder Aaron Greenwald, Brenner has created a new line of gluten- and allergen-free products that meet the dietary restrictions of the tens of millions who suffer with food sensitivities. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/05/food-informants-eric-brenner-gluten-free_n_1846865.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Eric's diary here.</a></strong>
Rudy Marchesi, Biodynamic Wine Maker
Rudy Marchesi assumed ownership of Montinore Estates in 2006, but has had a hand in the estate since 1992 when he lead the fine wine department of the distribution house of Allied Beverage. In 1998, he began consulting on Montinore's vineyard management, winemaking and marketing. He became Vice President of Operations in 2001 and President in 2003. Marchesi obtained the Demeter Biodynamic certificate in 2008, which certifies wines based on the strict principles of biodynamic farming. This process involves an organic approach that treats the soil with fermented manure, minerals and herbs.
Zach Zamboni, Anthony Bourdain's Cinematographer
Zach Zamboni is a cinematographer. Logging more than 10,000 hours of camera work throughout the world, Zach has been awarded two Emmy's for Non-Fiction Cinematography (2009, 2011), and is nominated for a third. He's shot more than 70 episodes of the highly successful travel series "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," and "The Layover." Between shooting documentaries and features, he's finishing a screenplay about the spooky side of traveling. Follow his adventures on Twitter @zachzamboni. Find him at www.zachzamboni.com. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/15/zach-zamboni-food-informants_n_1765003.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Zach's diary here.</a></strong>
Matt Cohen, Food Truck Organizer
Originally from Denver, Matt Cohen moved to Japan and became obsessed with ramen and classic Asian night markets. When he returned to the States, he settled in the Bay Area and founded Tabe, a late-night ramen cart. In 2010, Matt founded <a href="http://offthegridsf.com/" target="_hplink">Off the Grid</a>, a network of street food vendors, effectively bringing much of the feeling of an Asian night market state-side. He does everything from recruiting and approving new vendors, to dealing with the intricate process of acquiring permits and clearance for the growing number of weekly markets. At the heart of Off the Grid is a genuine love for the concept of bringing people together in a social urban environment and providing fledgling operations a jumping-off place for their endeavors. In a week, Off the Grid works with upwards of 100 small businesses, and with 18 weekly markets and growing, that constructive interaction is only bound to grow. Matt's most recent endeavor is The <a href="http://www.sffoodlab.com/" target="_hplink">SF Food Lab</a>, a business launched with two other industry veterans. The Food Lab offers a test kitchen space and dining are for entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop their products and cuisine, with all the tools necessary. That said, quickly approaching Off the Grid's second anniversary, Matt hasn't lost his love for street food -- you can usually find him at one of his markets every night of the week. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/food-informants-off-the-grid_n_1759442.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Matt's diary here.</a></strong>
Adam Keough, Chef Preparing For A James Beard Dinner
Since taking the reins as Executive Chef at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in late 2010, Chef Adam Keough has garnered a three-star review and inclusion in the 2011 and 2012 "Top-100 Bay Area Restaurants" list from the San Francisco Chronicle, a first for the restaurant since opening in 1998. A Boston native and Michael Mina Group vet, Keough has years of fine dining experience in restaurants across the country. He is also a two-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist for national "Rising-Star Chef of the Year," in 2007 and 2008. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/adam-keough-food-informants_n_1710342.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Adam's diary here.</a></strong>
Ashley Archer, Culinary Producer Of 'The Chew'
Ashley Archer has 10 years of restaurant experience including three years at Prune in New York City. She was a Senior Culinary Producer at Food Network, where she worked on shows including Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, Tyler's Ultimate, Guy's Big Bite and more. She was also a food stylist for Emeril Live, Essence of Emeril, Next Food Network Star, Rachael Ray and more. Now, she's the Culinary Producer at The Chew and the co-editor of the new Chew cookbook, which debuts September 25. Archer lives in Washington Heights with her husband and two-year-old daughter. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/food-informants-the-chew_n_1689537.html?utm_hp_ref=food-informants" target="_hplink">Read Ashley's diary here.</a></strong>
Shawn Askinosie, Chocolate Maker On A Trip To Africa
Shawn Askinosie is the founder and chocolate maker of Askinosie Chocolate. Since founding Askinosie Chocolate after working in criminal law for 20 years, Shawn's social business model has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and numerous other publications. Shawn sells his chocolate throughout the U.S. and exports to stores around the world. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Affairs degree in May 2012 to "recognize his contributions as a community leader, an entrepreneur, a role model and an inspiration to students and others." <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/food-informants-shawn-askinosie_n_1668658.html?utm_hp_ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Shawn's diary here.</a></strong>
Andrew Zimmern is a James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, teacher and is widely regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel's hit series, "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern," "Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World," and his new series, "Bizarre Foods America," he travels the globe, exploring food in its own terroir. Zimmern is a contributing editor at Food & Wine, an award-winning monthly columnist at Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and a senior editor at Delta's Sky Magazine. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife Rishia, son Noah and several un-eaten pets. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/food-informants-andrew-zimmern_n_1654620.html?utm_hp_ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Andrew's diary here.</a></strong>
Anthony Butler, Soup Kitchen Director
In June of 2005, Anthony Butler took the position as Executive Director at St. John's Bread and Life. During his tenure there, he has worked to meet the growing need of emergency food in the community, provide those services with the greatest dignity and develop strategies to reduce individuals and families need for emergency food. In June of 2008, Bread and Life moved into a new $8,000,000 state-of-the-art facility; featuring expanded space, a digital choice food pantry, medical offices, a library, a non-denominational chapel, classroom, demonstration kitchen, and proper space to meet the increased demand of Bread and Life's guest, fully paperless data collection, and swipe card system for hot meals. Throughout this, Bread and Life has grown to a $3,000,000 annual budget and has served over 500,000 meals annually. As part of Bread and Life's commitment to providing nutritious food, it has grown its partnership with the sustainable food community. Over the past two years Bread and Life has brought over $200,000 worth of sustainably grown New York State products into the community. It continues to partner with the Brooklyn and New York food community to address the issues of Hunger and poverty. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/food-informants-soup-kitchen_n_1643465.html?utm_hp_ref=food" target="_hplink">Read Anthony's diary here.</a></strong>
Jeni Britton Bauer, Ice Cream Maker
Jeni Britton Bauer has created ice cream for more than 15 years. Drawing from her traditional pastry training and a pantry of exceptional ingredients, the Columbus resident continues to perfect the frozen desserts for which her company, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, is known. Jeni first discovered her love for dessert while working at La Chatelaine bakery in Columbus, Ohio. Her passion for ice cream eventually led to the opening of her first ice cream shop, Scream, in 1996 in Columbus' North Market. With the help of her business partner and husband Charly, she founded Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in November 2002 in the same market where she operated her first scoop. Now, Bauer is the owner and creative director of eight elegant scoop shops in central Ohio, one in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and one in Nashville, Tennessee, with individual pints available online and in freezer aisles throughout the United States. Her ice cream has been praised by Time magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today and countless other media outlets throughout the country. In June 2011, Artisan Books published "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home." Now in its sixth printing, The New York Times best-selling cookbook has been dubbed "the homemade-ice cream-making Bible" by The Wall Street Journal, while The Washington Post proclaimed Jeni "an ice cream wizard." In May 2012, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home won a James Beard Media Award in the "Cookbook: Baking & Desserts" category. When Jeni isn't developing new flavors, she devotes time to Local Matters (the Columbus-based, fresh-food-for-all non-profit she co-founded), as well as reading, painting at her kitchen table, sewing, drinking wine, cooking and making big messes with her husband and two children at their home in Columbus. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/food-informants-jenis-splendid_n_1616712.html" target="_hplink">Read Jeni's diary here.</a></strong>
Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs, Food 52 Founders
Amanda Hesser is an entrepreneur, best-selling author and has been named one of the 50 most influential women in food by Gourmet. As a longtime staffer at the New York Times, Hesser wrote more than 750 stories and was the food editor at the Times Magazine. She has written the award-winning books "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Cook and the Gardener," and edited the essay collection "Eat, Memory." Her last book, a Times bestseller and the winner of a James Beard award, is The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Hesser is a trustee of Awesome Food, and is an adviser to the Spence Foundation, Real Time Farms and Fondu. Merrill Stubbs grew up in New York City and after graduating from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature, she honed her cooking skills at Le Cordon Bleu in London. Later, she interned in the test kitchen at Cook's Illustrated and was a private chef and cooking instructor. While she was in Boston, she also worked with Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery + Café. Merrill met her Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser when she signed on to help research and test recipes for The Essential New York Times Cookbook. She has written for T Living, Edible Brooklyn and Body+Soul, and she was the food editor at Herb Quarterly. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their 4-month-old daughter. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/food-informants-food52_n_1586150.html?" target="_hplink">Read Amanda and Merrill's diary here.</a></strong>
Emiliano Lee, Cheesemonger
Emiliano Lee comes from a long line of grocers and his passion for cheese dates back to his childhood in Oakland, where he could be found stealing bites of Rouge et Noir brie from the wheel in his father's desk drawer and spending his allowance at the 6th Avenue Cheese Shop in San Francisco. After working as a cheesemonger throughout the country, Lee is now the Artisan Market Manager for Farmshop in Los Angeles. Since 2009, Lee has served as a judge for the American Cheese Society, affording him the opportunity to taste thousands of cheeses from hundreds of North American producers, and provide them with valuable aesthetic feedback. Additionally, Lee participated in the 2010 Cheesemonger Invitational, served as a panelist at the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference, and most recently was a panel moderator at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/06/food-informants-cheesemonger_n_1567473.html?" target="_hplink">Read Emiliano's diary here.</a></strong>