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.

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!

Read more about the crazy doughnut concoctions that Voodoo creates.

Monday, January 21

10:30am: Met with the folks from Travel Portland to discuss the launch of a “passport program” geared at luring tourist from Seattle. People could redeem their passport for a Portland Cream doughnut.


1:00pm: Checked in at Voodoo (Downtown location) where our employees had some fun while decorating.


3:00pm: Met with Johnny Stallings to discuss our continued participation in his prison outreach program, Open Hearts, Open Minds. Each year the program puts on a play. King Lear is on the list for this year, but not official.

7:00pm: We were guests coaches for the Portland State Lady Vikings basketball team. We led the ladies to defeat in a quest for the Dam Cup against the regional rival, Eastern Washington, 56 to 68.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10:45am: Agreed to be on an upcoming panel for the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The panel is named, “The X-Factor of Ridiculously Successful and Innovative Destinations.”

11:00am: Checked in at our Voodoo Too location. They just got finished making some birthday doughnut orders.



12:00pm: Went to the Rogue Beer HQ to watch Fred Armisen on The Rachael Ray Show. He came out with our Bacon Maple Ale as a gift for Rachael. Good bit, thanks for the Portland love Fred!

1:00pm: Downtown Portland location starting to make Valentine prototype doughnuts for Valentine’s Day.


3:00pm: Started negotiations with the Eugene Emeralds, a minor league baseball team in Eugene, Oregon to team up and make Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Brats. Crap, I just wrote down another idea that will get stolen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

11:15am: Discussed the possibility of doing a business cameo (After they shot some B-Roll at our Voodoo Too location last week) on a reality show for Discovery Canada about a local shredding company, called “Shred.” Coming soon.

11:30am: Worked on a plan to escalate the fundraising for the Ken Kesey Fund, a project to raise enough money to purchase the Kesey papers from the family so that they will remain in Oregon at the University of Oregon Library. We are hoping to get a local brewery to create a beer and pass on some of the proceeds to the fund. We sold almost 20,000 themed doughnuts in which we “Dough-nated” a portion of the proceeds. Of course the first reply we always get when we bring up the project is “Ask Phil Knight.” Phil can’t pay for everything though.


Noon: Downtown Portland shop made cigar doughnuts for the arrival of a new baby girl.


4:00pm: Our employees had some more fun.


4:30pm: Walked in on a doughnut eating contest in progress at the downtown shop. Reminded the contestant that if they puked, they were still in the contest as long as they ate it, puke and doughnut both. That usually slows them down a bit. He was not successful.

Thursday, January 24

10:30am: Our assistant gave the go ahead to set up a book signing at our Voodoo Too location for Rose Putnam’s Path to Darkness, Volume 4. All 3 stories in this book feature Voodoo Doughnut.

11:00am: Met with our assistant who is in charge of coming up with a Mardi Gras themed, King Cake Doughnut for a special event. We’ve narrowed it down to a couple of good options.

Voodoo Too made some specialty doughnuts for the days pick up orders


1:30pm: Random photo op with a Michael Jackson Impersonator. He is promoting a show in Salem, Oregon on February 16. He moonwalked in the store and sang “I’ll Be There.”


3:00pm: Met with our colleagues at Rogue Brewing to discuss our potential third beer. The Bacon Maple Ale and the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana beers have been great fun, what will be next?

Friday, January 25

11:30am: Downtown shop made specialty doughnuts for the days pick up orders


Noon: Met the owner of the Star Theater to discuss our upcoming employee party. All is a go. We will have a prom theme this year.

1pm: Downtown shop did some in store promoting for tomorrows Blazer Game. Go Blazers!

3:15pm: Signed the documents to start our own vanity record label, Voodoo Doughnut Recordings. Making headway to release our first single, “It Ain’t No Cupcake,” on 7” pink vinyl soon.

Saturday, January 26

1:00pm: Agreed to perform 2 weddings on Groundhogs Day, next Saturday at our Davis location.

Sunday, January 27

9:00am: I will do my best to not talk about work for the entire day.

9:00pm: Success!

See more Food Informants below:

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  • Chris Rivard, Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Guru

    Chris Rivard graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition & Food Sciences and Dietetics. He spent the first four years of his career working for a local nutrition company focused on providing high quality, functional food products to companies in the weight management industry. Chris then joined Ben & Jerry’s R&D team, which is made up of five “Flavor Gurus” that are responsible for the product development and the quality problem solving across the business. Chris’s primary focus is on global markets (Australia, Singapore and Japan, among others) as well as new market implementation. But R&D is very much a team effort: they all work together on new flavor innovations across all regions.

    <strong><a href=”″ target=”_hplink”>Read Chris’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Ashley Palmer, PETA Employee

    Ashley Palmer is the online marketing manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Palmer oversees all of PETA’s web projects, including the wildly popular “Sexiest Vegetarian” series of contests, online campaign initiatives, and celebrity features and videos. She got her start as the top coordinator for PETA Living, the lifestyle section of PETA’s award-winning website, where her efforts resulted in a 1,100 percent increase in traffic to the PETA Living blog and accounts for 50 percent of all traffic to She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Kevin, and two cat companions, Bo and Henry.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Ashley’s diary here</a>.</strong>

  • Tink Pinkard, Professional Hunter & Fly-Fisher

    Tink Pinkard is a professional hunting and fly-fishing guide located in the Texas Hill Country. His focus is to provide hunters the opportunity to hunt and harvest white tail deer, exotic species and feral hogs in a fair chase situation. He strives to not only educate a hunter on the basics of the hunt and harvest, but to promote and educate on the utilization of the complete animal “from nose to tail.” He aims to do the same for his clients on the waters throughout Texas when he guides them fly-fishing.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Tink’s diary here</a>.</strong>

  • Matthew DuTrumble, Executive Chef Of Zynga

    Matthew “Matty” DuTrumble has been the Executive Chef for Zynga — the company that creates online games such as FarmVille and ChefVille — since joining the team in 2009. At Zynga, Matthew leads a team focused on menu development, local product sourcing and cooking multiple meals and snacks. He joined Zynga after serving as a Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu CCA in San Francisco. At Le Cordon Bleu CCA, Matthew focused on a broad range of disciplines, including Kitchen Production, Butchery, Banquets & Catering and Contemporary Cuisine. Matthew has appeared on The Food Network’s “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills,” and also ran his own catering company Matty’s Fresh Meals Catering. Additionally, Matthew has served as a Chef at the Harker School, and spent time in the kitchens of The West Deck in Newport, Rhode Island, and Caffe Itri in Cranston, Rhode Island. Matthew studied at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he obtained his culinary and business degrees.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Matthew’s diary here</a>.</strong>

  • Gregory Hall, Cider Maker

    Gregory Hall, a craft brewer, is now at the helm of Virtue Brands, the new Chicago-based branch-to-bottle cider venture that uses Midwestern heirloom apples to produce a series of ciders. In his new role as ciderist, Hall hopes to bring craft cider to the level where craft beer is today in America in terms of quality, variety and accessibility to the consumer.

    Known for his 20-year tenure as brewmaster at the Goose Island Beer Company, Hall began his brewing career in 1988, the year his father, John Hall, opened the brewery. Greg attended Chicago’s brewing school, the Siebel Institute, graduating in 1989. In 1992, Hall become the brewmaster of Goose Island Beer Company and under his direction, the brewery flourished and expanded its draft and bottle beer lines. Hall stepped down as Brewmaster of Goose Island in May 2011 to pursue cider making. He maintains his ties to Goose Island as a consultant.

    Greg Hall is a long-time supporter Chicago food community and many local organizations such as Slow Food Chicago, Chicago’s Green City Market and the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project. He is an avid cyclist and currently resides in Chicago with his two children — Sofie and Henry.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read more about Greg’s week here.</a></strong>

  • Christophe Hille, Restaurant Owner Post-Sandy

    Christophe Hille is the founder and co-owner of Northern Spy Food Co. in New York’s East Village. Before opening Northern Spy, Hille was a personal chef to Annie Leibovitz and the executive chef of A16 in San Francisco. He holds an MS in Nutrition & Food Studies from New York University.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Christophe’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Steve Smith, Tea Maker

    Steve Smith is one of the world’s leading tea makers and entrepreneurs. In 1972, Smith was a young partner in the first natural foods store in Portland. Expanding on these roots — and the joys of tea learned from his grandmother and time spent in Southeast Asia — he and two partners founded the Stash Tea Company. The trio introduced herbal and specialty black teas to retail and food service accounts throughout North America, eventually growing to become one of the largest-selling food service specialty tea brands in the country. When Stash was acquired in 1993 by Yamamotoyama, the oldest tea company in Japan, Smith left to pursue a new vision, which came to be known as Tazo.

    Smith is credited in developing over 60 proprietary blends in multiple beverage formats — many of which remain Tazo’s top selling teas today. In January of 1999 Tazo was acquired by Starbucks, and Smith and his team continued to lead the company until January of 2006.

    Parting ways with Starbucks and Tazo in 2006, Smith moved to Avignon with his wife, Kim and their 10-year-old son. But after a year, the path of tea called them all back to Portland. He’s now perfecting his new signature line: Steven Smith Teamaker.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Steve’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Jenny McCoy, Pastry Chef

    Jenny McCoy is a New York City-based professional pastry chef turned home baker. She’s the co-founder of Cissé Trading Company, a cookbook author, culinary instructor and authority on all things sweet.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Jenny’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Lee Schrager, New York Wine & Food Festival Founder

    Lee Brian Schrager serves as the Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. He joined the company in 2000 and oversees projects for the company in all 35 states in which it does business. Most noteworthy in Schrager’s resume is his creation of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in 2002 and the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival in 2008.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Lee’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • David Venable, QVC Host

    David Venable is the host of the popular QVC program “In The Kitchen With David” which airs every Wednesday at 9pm and Sundays at noon. David Venable joined QVC as a program host in 1993 and has since helped establish and build the multimedia retailer’s gourmet food business. Venable also serves as a primary host for other QVC programming.

    Prior to joining QVC, Venable was an anchor/reporter for WOAY — TV in Oak Hill, W. Va., and CBS-affiliate WTAJ — TV in Altoona, Pa., where he hosted its weekly public affairs talk show “Action Newsmakers.” He also hosted the Children’s Miracle Network telethon for four years. Venable earned his bachelor’s degree in radio, television and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.

    He just released his debut cookbook which has been flying off the shelves.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read David’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Kareem Hajjar, Restaurant Lawyer

    Kareem T. Hajjar’s bar and restaurant law practice includes the representation of approximately 400 bars and restaurants located throughout Texas and includes the formation of corporate entities, real estate acquisition and leasing, zoning and other land use and municipal issues, trademark acquisitions, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission permit acquisition, employment agreements, mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations to private offerings of debt and equity securities, venture capital transactions and contract negotiations.

    Kareem has served on the Board of Directors of the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, the Advisory Council for the Texas Wine and Food Festival, the Leadership Council for the Ronald McDonald House of Austin, the Board of Directors for FloralBurst, the Membership Committee of the Texas Food and Wine Foundation, and the Bulletproof Committee for the Lone Star of Texas Rodeo.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Kareem’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Carolyn Ottenheimer, Kettle Brand Chip’s Chief Flavor Architect

    Carolyn Ottenheimer is the Chief Flavor Architect for Kettle Brand Chips in Salem, Oregon. She’s responsible for developing and defining the flavor and quality attributes of all Kettle Brand products — the base snack and the seasoning blends that are applied to the various flavors. She also defines the quality standards of all of the products and ensures that the process facilities have tools with which to monitor chip quality. She confirms that all of the products meet the claims that are being made on the packaging — like “gluten free.” Finally, she checks that production facilities have food safety programs.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Carolyn’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Emil Grosso, Balducci’s Food Buyer

    As Vice President of Business Development for Balducci’s, Emil Grosso is in charge of scouring and searching for the purveyors of quality available across the U.S. and around the world. From farms to fields to forests, he selects foods for Balducci’s markets and catering services — handpicking the best coffee beans, artisan breads and produce.

    Now, Emil is also sourcing quality ingredients for Balducci’s Gourmet on the Go Café, the latest Balducci’s food destination in New York City. The Café opened this past March, and it marked the return of Balducci’s gourmet foods to Manhattan and was conceptualized and realized by Emil over the past two years. The new Café, located in the Hearst Tower on the corner of 56th Street and Eighth Avenue, serves an array of foods, made with locally sourced produce from New York City urban farmers and features breads and pastries from the city’s best bakeries. Emil is constantly on the road, meeting new people in the food world and taking a lot of trips to find the best-of-the-best throughout the country to bring back to NYC.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Emil’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Eric Brenner, Gluten-Free Chef

    Chef Eric Brenner has multiple food allergies in his family and years of experience cooking for food-sensitive restaurant customers. Named the 2008 Top Chef and Chef of the Year by multiple publications in St. Louis for his former restaurant MOXY Contemporary Bistro, he has now brought his culinary style to BOLD Organics, a line of gluten-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, casein-free, whey-free, egg-free, peanut-free and tree nut-free frozen pizzas that contain no GMOs, preservatives, nitrites, nitrates or trans-fats. Working together with 21-year-old company founder Aaron Greenwald, Brenner has created a new line of gluten- and allergen-free products that meet the dietary restrictions of the tens of millions who suffer with food sensitivities.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Eric’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Rudy Marchesi, Biodynamic Wine Maker

    Rudy Marchesi assumed ownership of Montinore Estates in 2006, but has had a hand in the estate since 1992 when he lead the fine wine department of the distribution house of Allied Beverage. In 1998, he began consulting on Montinore’s vineyard management, winemaking and marketing. He became Vice President of Operations in 2001 and President in 2003. Marchesi obtained the Demeter Biodynamic certificate in 2008, which certifies wines based on the strict principles of biodynamic farming. This process involves an organic approach that treats the soil with fermented manure, minerals and herbs.

  • Zach Zamboni, Anthony Bourdain’s Cinematographer

    Zach Zamboni is a cinematographer. Logging more than 10,000 hours of camera work throughout the world, Zach has been awarded two Emmy’s for Non-Fiction Cinematography (2009, 2011), and is nominated for a third. He’s shot more than 70 episodes of the highly successful travel series “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” and “The Layover.” Between shooting documentaries and features, he’s finishing a screenplay about the spooky side of traveling. Follow his adventures on Twitter @zachzamboni. Find him at

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Zach’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Matt Cohen, Food Truck Organizer

    Originally from Denver, Matt Cohen moved to Japan and became obsessed with ramen and classic Asian night markets. When he returned to the States, he settled in the Bay Area and founded Tabe, a late-night ramen cart. In 2010, Matt founded <a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Off the Grid</a>, a network of street food vendors, effectively bringing much of the feeling of an Asian night market state-side.

    He does everything from recruiting and approving new vendors, to dealing with the intricate process of acquiring permits and clearance for the growing number of weekly markets. At the heart of Off the Grid is a genuine love for the concept of bringing people together in a social urban environment and providing fledgling operations a jumping-off place for their endeavors. In a week, Off the Grid works with upwards of 100 small businesses, and with 18 weekly markets and growing, that constructive interaction is only bound to grow.

    Matt’s most recent endeavor is The <a href=”” target=”_hplink”>SF Food Lab</a>, a business launched with two other industry veterans. The Food Lab offers a test kitchen space and dining are for entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop their products and cuisine, with all the tools necessary. That said, quickly approaching Off the Grid’s second anniversary, Matt hasn’t lost his love for street food — you can usually find him at one of his markets every night of the week.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Matt’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Adam Keough, Chef Preparing For A James Beard Dinner

    Since taking the reins as Executive Chef at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in late 2010, Chef Adam Keough has garnered a three-star review and inclusion in the 2011 and 2012 “Top-100 Bay Area Restaurants” list from the San Francisco Chronicle, a first for the restaurant since opening in 1998. A Boston native and Michael Mina Group vet, Keough has years of fine dining experience in restaurants across the country. He is also a two-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist for national “Rising-Star Chef of the Year,” in 2007 and 2008.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Adam’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Ashley Archer, Culinary Producer Of ‘The Chew’

    Ashley Archer has 10 years of restaurant experience including three years at Prune in New York City. She was a Senior Culinary Producer at Food Network, where she worked on shows including Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, Tyler’s Ultimate, Guy’s Big Bite and more. She was also a food stylist for Emeril Live, Essence of Emeril, Next Food Network Star, Rachael Ray and more. Now, she’s the Culinary Producer at The Chew and the co-editor of the new Chew cookbook, which debuts September 25. Archer lives in Washington Heights with her husband and two-year-old daughter.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Ashley’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Shawn Askinosie, Chocolate Maker On A Trip To Africa

    Shawn Askinosie is the founder and chocolate maker of Askinosie Chocolate. Since founding Askinosie Chocolate after working in criminal law for 20 years, Shawn’s social business model has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and numerous other publications. Shawn sells his chocolate throughout the U.S. and exports to stores around the world. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Affairs degree in May 2012 to “recognize his contributions as a community leader, an entrepreneur, a role model and an inspiration to students and others.”

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Shawn’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Andrew Zimmern

    Andrew Zimmern is a James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, teacher and is widely regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s hit series, “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” “Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World,” and his new series, “Bizarre Foods America,” he travels the globe, exploring food in its own terroir. Zimmern is a contributing editor at Food & Wine, an award-winning monthly columnist at Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and a senior editor at Delta’s Sky Magazine. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife Rishia, son Noah and several un-eaten pets.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Andrew’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Anthony Butler, Soup Kitchen Director

    In June of 2005, Anthony Butler took the position as Executive Director at St. John’s Bread and Life. During his tenure there, he has worked to meet the growing need of emergency food in the community, provide those services with the greatest dignity and develop strategies to reduce individuals and families need for emergency food. In June of 2008, Bread and Life moved into a new $8,000,000 state-of-the-art facility; featuring expanded space, a digital choice food pantry, medical offices, a library, a non-denominational chapel, classroom, demonstration kitchen, and proper space to meet the increased demand of Bread and Life’s guest, fully paperless data collection, and swipe card system for hot meals.

    Throughout this, Bread and Life has grown to a $3,000,000 annual budget and has served over 500,000 meals annually. As part of Bread and Life’s commitment to providing nutritious food, it has grown its partnership with the sustainable food community. Over the past two years Bread and Life has brought over $200,000 worth of sustainably grown New York State products into the community. It continues to partner with the Brooklyn and New York food community to address the issues of Hunger and poverty.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Anthony’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Jeni Britton Bauer, Ice Cream Maker

    Jeni Britton Bauer has created ice cream for more than 15 years. Drawing from her traditional pastry training and a pantry of exceptional ingredients, the Columbus resident continues to perfect the frozen desserts for which her company, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, is known. Jeni first discovered her love for dessert while working at La Chatelaine bakery in Columbus, Ohio. Her passion for ice cream eventually led to the opening of her first ice cream shop, Scream, in 1996 in Columbus’ North Market. With the help of her business partner and husband Charly, she founded Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in November 2002 in the same market where she operated her first scoop.

    Now, Bauer is the owner and creative director of eight elegant scoop shops in central Ohio, one in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and one in Nashville, Tennessee, with individual pints available online and in freezer aisles throughout the United States. Her ice cream has been praised by Time magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today and countless other media outlets throughout the country. In June 2011, Artisan Books published “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.” Now in its sixth printing, The New York Times best-selling cookbook has been dubbed “the homemade-ice cream-making Bible” by The Wall Street Journal, while The Washington Post proclaimed Jeni “an ice cream wizard.” In May 2012, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home won a James Beard Media Award in the “Cookbook: Baking & Desserts” category.

    When Jeni isn’t developing new flavors, she devotes time to Local Matters (the Columbus-based, fresh-food-for-all non-profit she co-founded), as well as reading, painting at her kitchen table, sewing, drinking wine, cooking and making big messes with her husband and two children at their home in Columbus.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Jeni’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs, Food 52 Founders

    Amanda Hesser is an entrepreneur, best-selling author and has been named one of the 50 most influential women in food by Gourmet. As a longtime staffer at the New York Times, Hesser wrote more than 750 stories and was the food editor at the Times Magazine. She has written the award-winning books “Cooking for Mr. Latte” and “The Cook and the Gardener,” and edited the essay collection “Eat, Memory.” Her last book, a Times bestseller and the winner of a James Beard award, is The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Hesser is a trustee of Awesome Food, and is an adviser to the Spence Foundation, Real Time Farms and Fondu.

    Merrill Stubbs grew up in New York City and after graduating from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature, she honed her cooking skills at Le Cordon Bleu in London. Later, she interned in the test kitchen at Cook’s Illustrated and was a private chef and cooking instructor. While she was in Boston, she also worked with Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery + Café. Merrill met her Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser when she signed on to help research and test recipes for The Essential New York Times Cookbook. She has written for T Living, Edible Brooklyn and Body+Soul, and she was the food editor at Herb Quarterly. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their 4-month-old daughter.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Amanda and Merrill’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Emiliano Lee, Cheesemonger

    Emiliano Lee comes from a long line of grocers and his passion for cheese dates back to his childhood in Oakland, where he could be found stealing bites of Rouge et Noir brie from the wheel in his father’s desk drawer and spending his allowance at the 6th Avenue Cheese Shop in San Francisco. After working as a cheesemonger throughout the country, Lee is now the Artisan Market Manager for Farmshop in Los Angeles. Since 2009, Lee has served as a judge for the American Cheese Society, affording him the opportunity to taste thousands of cheeses from hundreds of North American producers, and provide them with valuable aesthetic feedback. Additionally, Lee participated in the 2010 Cheesemonger Invitational, served as a panelist at the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference, and most recently was a panel moderator at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Emiliano’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” target=”_hplink”>email</a> or <a href=”!/JoshViertel” target=”_hplink”>Twitter</a>.

    <strong><a href=”″ 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=”” 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=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Pam’s diary here.</a></strong>

    <a href=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Aldo’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Gail Simmons

    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=”” 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=”” 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=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Taylor and Dorothy’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Drew Robinson & Tory McPhail, Chefs

    One of the biggest college football games of the year was the BCS National Championship. Louisiana State University (ranked number 1) was pitted against rival University of Alabama (number 2), a match-up that also occurred earlier in the season, resulting in LSU’s win. But for the championship round, things ended up a little differently. The competition wasn’t just between Alabama and LSU though — chefs had their reputations at stake as well. The Boudin vs. BBQ tailgate pitted Drew Robinson of Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-BQ in Alabama against Chris Barbato’s Café Adelaide in New Orleans.

    The diary chronicles Chef Drew Robinson from Jim ‘N Nick’s, he details how one preps for such a big barbecue feast on someone else’s turf. At the same time as Drew was preparing his porky goodness, Tory McPhail, executive chef of Commander’s Palace, one of New Orlean’s most institutional fine dining restaurants, was preparing for an influx of guests in town for the game.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Drew and Tory’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Irene Wong, Food TV Producer

    Irene Wong is the Executive Producer of “Unique Eats” and “Unique Sweets,” two hit series on the Cooking Channel. Irene’s career in food television started in 1999 when she joined the Food Network and created and directed “Everyday Italian” with Giada De Laurentiis, “Ciao America” with Mario Batali, “My Country My Kitchen” and “Melting Pot.” In 2006 she started her own production company, IW Productions LLC, which is based in New York City. She was the Co-Executive Producer and Director for several seasons of “Everyday Food,” “Everyday Baking,” “Mad Hungry” and “Martha Bakes.”

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Irene Wong’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Ben Potts, Dogfish Head’s Lead Brewer

    Ben Potts, 28, is the lead brewer at Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats in Rehoboth Beach, De. After Ben discovered craft beer, there was no turning back. His first forays into this world were Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Bigfoot Barleywine, as well as Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch and 90 Minute IPA. Talk about full circle! When a friend started homebrewing, he thought, “Hey, I can do this,” and picked up his first kit. His first professional gig came about five years later. He was in art school studying to become a painter, but decided brewing might be a more achievable — but equally creative — career, so he dropped out and started volunteering at Dock Street Brewing Co. “I worked my ass off until they hired me as assistant brewer,” he says. “Then I took over as head brewer in October 2008.”

    Ben moved from Philadelphia to Rehoboth this fall to work at Dogfish Head’s brewpub. Outside of the brewhouse, he enjoys hiking, camping, mountain biking, roller hockey, movies, fantasy novels, cooking and having a pint with friends and family.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Ben Potts’ diary here.</a></strong>

  • Brian Noyes, Red Truck Bakery Owner

    Brian Noyes left 25 years of magazine art-direction (Smithsonian, House & Garden, The Washington Post) to launch a rural bakery in the Virginia Piedmont hunt country 50 miles west of Washington, DC. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and at L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, he bought a red 1954 Ford pickup from designer Tommy Hilfiger, renovated a 1921 Esso service station in Old Town Warrenton, Va., and threw open the Red Truck Bakery doors in August 2009 just as the economy started to plummet. Rave reviews by The New York Times, Garden & Gun, Southern Living and other publications turned this three-chef bakery into a small town coffee stop with a big online presence, sending out hundreds of orders nationwide each month. He lives in Arlington, Va., with his partner Dwight McNeill and has a farmhouse 20 minutes from the bakery in Orlean, Va. where he usually stays during the week. Two bakers, CIA graduate Kevin Powers and Ryan Glendenning from the Restaurant School in Philadelphia, round out the kitchen staff, with Nicole O’Brien on sandwiches and granola.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read about Brian Noyes’ week here.</a></strong>

  • John T. Edge, Southern Food Guru

    John T. Edge writes a monthly column, “United Tastes,” for the New York Times. He is a contributing editor at Garden & Gun and a longtime columnist for the Oxford American. His magazine and newspaper work has been featured in eight editions of the Best Food Writing compilation. He has been nominated for five James Beard Foundation Awards, including two M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Awards. Edge holds a master’s degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. He is director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he documents, studies and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the American South.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read John T. Edge’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Chris Jones & Richie Farina, ‘Top Chef’ Contestants

    Chris Jones and Richie Farina are chefs at Moto, a fine dining restaurant in Chicago that focuses on innovative and futuristic cuisine. They are both contestants on this season of “Top Chef: Texas.” After attending Johnson and Wales University, Farina, the executive sous chef, started cooking in several Boston restaurants, and then joined Moto in 2008. In his spare time, he trains in mixed martial arts, a mixture of Ju Jistu wrestling and boxing. Jones, got his start cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen. After working his way up the ladder in several restaurants, Jones is now the chef de cuisine of Moto. He lives with his wife and young daughter, Savannah.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Chris and Richie’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Sean Henry, Houndstooth Coffee Barista

    Sean Henry is the owner of Houndstooth Coffee in Austin, Texas. Not until graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Radio, Television and Film, did Sean even begin drinking coffee. While working at a local grocery store, Sean began to explore the coffee world region by region. After the initial broad strokes of regional coffees, he began working at local cafes, learning the art of being a barista. At Houndstooth, Sean aims to provide customers with the sophisticated taste and presentation of a perfect cup of Joe. He not only finds value in a well-crafted cup, but in the coffee drinking experience as well.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Sean Henry’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Jean Reilly, Wine Buyer

    Jean K. Reilly MW is the Wine Director for the Morrell Wine Bar and the Wine Buyer at Morrell Wine Co. She is a 10-year veteran of the wine business and has worked in numerous parts of the trade. In 2010, Jean became this country’s 26th Master of Wine, only the sixth American woman to hold this prestigious title. Jean’s interest in wine began as a hobby while pursuing a career in corporate finance at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Deloitte & Touche. Abandoning the corporate track in 2001, Jean plunged into wine full-time, traveling the vineyards of Europe and the U.S. After a stint as sommelier at a small French restaurant in Manhattan, she worked as a wine instructor for several culinary schools, including Schiller International University in Switzerland. From 2007 to 2008, she also served as the Wine Consultant for Hilton Hotels.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Jean Reilly’s diary here.</a></strong>

  • Todd Coleman, ‘Saveur’ Food Editor

    Todd Coleman is the executive food editor of <a href=”” target=”_hplink”><em>Saveur</em> magazine</a>, where for six years he’s run the food side of things, including recipe selection, and overseeing the test kitchen. He’s also an accomplished photographer who props, styles and photographs the majority of <em>Saveur’s</em> covers, as well as frequently shooting and producing stories both in studio and on location. A graduate of the CIA, he’s worked in restaurants, has been a private chef, edited at <em>Everyday Food</em>, produced shows for the Food Network, and has photographed cookbooks like <em>The Japanese Grill</em> by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, and the forthcoming Katie Workman book <em>The Mom 100</em>. He lives in Brooklyn, loves the Strand bookstore, hoards photo lenses and is a fiend for Indian food.

    <strong><a href=”” target=”_hplink”>Read Todd Coleman’s diary here</a>.</strong>

  • Stephen Kalil, Frito-Lay Executive Chef

    Chef Stephen Kalil joined PepsiCo and Frito-Lay in 2007 as their first ever corporate chef. In his role, he leads and inspires product development through the application of “Culinology”, the blending of culinary arts and food science and technology. He is based at Frito-Lay headquarters in Plano, Texas.

    <a href=”” target=”_hplink”><strong>Read Stephen Kalil’s diary here.</strong></a>