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The Piglet2011 / The Judges

The Judges

Mario Batali

Mario Batali

With fifteen restaurants, eight cookbooks and a host of television shows, including the ever-popular Iron Chef America, Mario Batali is arguably one of the most recognized and respected chefs working in America today. Mario is also the author of eight cookbooks including Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking (Ecco 2010), which hit shelves last April.

His most recent and ambitious project to date is Eataly – a 50,000 square foot culinary mecca in New York City’s flatiron district.

Mario started the Mario Batali Foundation in May of 2008, with the mission of feeding, protecting, educating, and empowering children. To learn more about Mario’s mission, visit www.mariobatalifoundation.org. (Photo by Melanie Dunea.)

Todd Carmichael

Todd Carmichael

Forty-seven year old CEO and Co-Founder of La Colombe Torrefaction, the country’s premier coffee roaster, Todd Carmichael is inarguably cut from unique cloth. An entrepreneur, philanthropist, world record holder, contributor to the Huffington Post and Esquire, and self-professed “culinary freak,” Todd is rarely at rest.

Todd has effectively combined his knowledge of coffee and his love of exploration with this passion for social and ecological causes. In 2007, Todd worked to created Afrique, a unique blend of African coffees. Proceeds from sales of Afrique help to house, support and educate over 100 children at the Trinity School in Kampala, Uganda. In 2008, Todd became the first American to cross 700 miles of Antarctica, solo, and unaided, setting a world record of 39 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes.

Chris Cosentino

Chris Cosentino

Chris Cosentino grew up in Newport, Rhode Island’s Italian-American community. Cosentino graduated from Johnson & Wales then went on to work at a number of notable restaurants before becoming the executive chef of Incanto in 2002.  His innovative interpretations of rustic Italian fare promptly earned the restaurant its first 3-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Since then, Cosentino has gained national acclaim as a leading proponent of offal cookery. His approach is marked by a combination of sheer gusto, careful research and precise technique, and stems from a belief that no parts of an animal slaughtered for food should go to waste. Cosentino has demonstrated that the “fifth quarter” offers an untapped array of flavors and textures, proving that these “lost cuts” can make for elegant and mouthwatering dishes.

In addition to serving as Incanto’s executive chef, Chris is co-creator of Boccalone, an artisanal salumeria. 

Aleksandra Crapanzano

Aleksandra Crapanzano

As a screenwriter, Aleksandra has written for many of the studios, including Miramax, Focus Features, New Line and Fox Searchlight. Her film on John Ruskin is currently in preproduction in the U.K. As a food writer, she has contributed essays to The New York Times Magazine, Gourmet, Food & Wine and Saveur. In 2009, The James Beard Foundation awarded Aleksandra the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Distinguished Writing.

Soraya Darabi

Soraya Darabi

Soraya Darabi has been witness to and at the heart of Silicon Alley’s rebirth over the last half of this decade. As Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social-Media Marketing at The New York Times, Soraya successfully led the drive to market nytimes.com across multiple social-media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. In 2009, her New York Times multimedia Inauguration Day campaign on Facebook won first prize at the INMA Awards for excellence in marketing. She was named one of AdAge Magazine's "25 People in Media to Follow" on Twitter.com and was listed at #2 on "The Silicon Alley Insider 100" at the end of 2009. In June 2010 she appeared on the cover of Fast Company magazine's "100 Most Creative People in Business" issue.

Today, Soraya is co-founder and business lead at Foodspotting, a visual local guide that lets you find dishes instead of just restaurants. Powered by people who take pictures of their food (for badges and glory), Foodspotting makes finding good food easier by letting you see the foods around you.

Soraya earned her B.A. in English Literature at Georgetown University and has forgiven the Hoyas for losing the first round this year even though they destroyed her bracket. Follow her on Twitter.

 

Ree Drummond

Ree Drummond

Ree Drummond is the author and creator of the award-winning website, The Pioneer Woman, where she chronicles, through photography, recipes, and prose, her experiences as a ranch wife plowing through life in rural America. Her #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, contains many of the cowboy- and kid-friendly dishes she's learned to cook through the years, as well as a sprinkling of her favorites from her former life as a vegetarian in Los Angeles. Ree lives in Oklahoma with her husband and four children, and her favorite food group is cream.

Gabrielle Hamilton

Gabrielle Hamilton

Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef/owner of Prune, which she opened in New York City’s East Village in October 1999. Prune has been recognized in all major press, both nationally and internationally, and is regularly cited in the top 100 lists of all major food magazines. Gabrielle has made numerous television appearances, including segments with Martha Stewart, Mark Bittman, and Mike Colameco. Most notably, she was the victor in her 2008 Iron Chef America battle against Bobby Flay. Gabrielle has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, Saveur and Food & Wine and had an 8-week Chef’s Column in the New York Times. Her work has been anthologized in Best Food Writing 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Her upcoming collection of essays, Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, will published by Random House in March, 2011.

Meg Hourihan

Meg Hourihan

If you are what you eat, then Meg Hourihan is: fresh picked summer corn from the farm stand on Nantucket. Edna Lewis' Coconut Cake on a snowy birthday evening. Cold oysters briny as hell followed by steak tartare and enough wine to make the worry of so much raw food fade away. A simple supper of hot dogs, beans, and brown bread from a can with her husband and two kids at home in New York City. You can find her at www.megnut.com.

Peter Kaminsky

Peter Kaminsky

Peter Kaminsky is the author of many cookbooks with Daniel Boulud, Michel Richard, Gray Kunz, Sheila Lukins, Fabio Trabochhi and John Madden. He is the former Underground Gourmet for New York Magazine and a contributor to Food & Wine. His Outdoors column has appeared in the New York Times for over twenty years. His forthcoming book, Culinary Intelligence will be published by Knopf. He is a creator and Executive Producer of The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and The Gershwin Prize for Popular song, both on PBS. Most significant of all, perhaps, he wrote the winner of the 2010 (inaugural) Piglet Award, Francis Mallmann's Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way.

Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein is a staff writer at The Washington Post, a columnist at Newsweek, and a contributor to MSNBC.

Francis Lam

Francis Lam

When he finally did it, Francis decided he would get three tattoos, one for each of the things most important in the world: food, art, and love. "But what about politics? What about justice?" he later fretted.

His friend said, "My politics all come out of love." And so he stuck to the three tattoo plan.

Before he was telling you about his tattoos, Francis worked with nonprofit organizations and taught writing and literature to students in the woods. He is currently a Senior Writer at Salon.com, and provides what might be called color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography). He was a Contributing Editor at Gourmet magazine (RIP), a frequent contributor to The Financial Times, and has been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award and several International Association of Culinary Professionals awards, winning one. His work has also appeared in the 2006 - 2010 editions of Best Food Writing. He believes that, in professional football, that would count as a dynasty; in ancient China, not so much. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Culinary Institute of America, and makes the meanest ratatouille.

Christine Muhlke

Christine Muhlke

Christine Muhlke is the food editor of the New York Times Magazine, where she also writes the Field Report column. She is the author of On the Line with Eric Ripert.

Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1992, and has written profiles, Reporter at Large, columns, Talk of the Town, and Popular Chronicles on subjects ranging from taxidermy to umbrella inventors to figure skater Tonya Harding. Prior to joining The New Yorker, Orlean was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and at Vogue, where she wrote about figures in both the music and fashion industries. She has also contributed to Esquire, Smithsonian, and The New York Times Magazine.

In addition to her magazine work, Orlean is the author of seven books including My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere; The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People; Saturday Night; and Lazy Little Loafers. In 1999, she published The Orchid Thief, a best-selling narrative about orchid poachers in Florida. The Orchid Thief was made into the movie, "Adaptation," written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. She is currently writing a cultural biography of the dog actor Rin Tin Tin, which will be published in 2011.

Susan received her B.A. with honors from the University of Michigan in 1976 and attended Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow in 2004. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and son.

Deb Perelman

Deb Perelman

Deb Perelman is a self-taught home cook, photographer and the creator of the Smitten Kitchen website, a cooking blog with a focus on stepped-up home cooking through unfussy ingredients. In previous iterations of her so-called career, she’s been a record store shift supervisor, a scrawler of “happy birthday” on bakery cakes, an art therapist and a technology reporter. She likes her current gig – the one where she wakes up and cooks whatever she feels like that day – the best. Her first cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, will be published by Knopf in 2012. Deb lives in New York City with her husband and delicious baby son.

Michael Ruhlman

Michael Ruhlman

Michael Ruhlman (ruhlman.com) is a freelance journalist and writer, the author of nine non-fiction books and co-author of seven cookbooks, with his latest Twenty: The Basic Techniques You Need To Know To Cook Everything scheduled for fall 2011. His most recent book is Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. His other non-fiction books include Boys Themselves, about an all-boys school, Wooden Boats, about life at a New England boatyard, Walk on Water, about a surgical team specializing in the repair of neonatal and infant hearts, and House: A Memoir, a story about the importance of house and home. He has been a freelance journalist and writer for more than fifteen years, his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Gourmet, Saveur, and Food Arts, and he has received IACP awards and a James Beard Award. He lives in Cleveland Heights, OH with his wife and two children.

Lockhart Steele

Lockhart Steele

Lockhart Steele is the president and founder of the Curbed Network, which includes the websites Curbed, Eater, Racked, and Gridskipper.