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The Food Heroes: Sixteen Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition [Hardcover]

Georgia Pellegrini
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2010
Georgia Pellegrini introduces readers to the lively stories of artisanal food devotees such as mushroom forager Marion Burroughs, fig collector Francis Honore, fish missionary Jon Rowley, and Ugo Buzzio, one of the last makers of traditional dry-cured sausages in the United States. Filled with coloUrful anecdotes, photographs and recipes, this book offers an accessible introduction to the artisanal food movement, as well as vicarious living for armchair travelers, food lovers, curiosity seekers and others who might wonder what it would be like to drop everything and start an olive farm, or who yearn to make and sell their own clotted cream butter. It is also about human nature and transition, nourishment and fulfillment, and underlines the importance of food as a means to sustain healthy communities and bring people together. It is a book for foodiesA" as well as for general interest readers who are looking for inspiration in choosing their own right path.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang Inc (1 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584798548
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584798545
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 15.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,197,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Georgia Pellegrini's passion for artisanal foods began when she was a child growing up in the Hudson Valley, where her father raised honeybees and quince trees. She attended Wellesley and Harvard and is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York. Pellegrini has worked in two of New York's most esteemed restaurants-Gramercy Tavern and Blue Hill at Stone Barns-as well as in one of the premier restaurants in France, La Chassagnette. Her strong contacts in the food world include Michael Anthony, the chef at Gramercy Tavern; Danny Meyer, bestselling author and entrepreneur; Alan Richman, author; Jacques Pepin; and Dorothy Hamilton of the FCI.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting for Tradition 3 Mar 2011
Food Heroes has been a breath of fresh air in a world full of foodie books. There is no preaching, just uplifting stories of ordinary people who are keeping their food traditions alive whilst maintaining their personal standard of quality. It's a fantastic and surprisingly joyful read without being sentimental.

The author's writing style is skillful at bringing her 16 food heroes to life. They seem like the type of people you would love to meet and have a good chat with because they are so knowledgeable and full of life. They are unassuming characters just standing strong for what they believe in - tradition and quality.

I think the author should qualify as the 17th food hero, because if it weren't for her scouting of these 16 food heroes, we would be missing out on some wonderful food stories. You can read my full review on the cookbook blog, Culinaria Libris.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST IN ARTISANAL FOOD 19 Sep 2010
By Gail Cooke - Published on Amazon.com
Can you imagine selecting the foremost artisanal food devotees from not only the U.S. but throughout the world? A daunting task, albeit a tasty one. Georgia Pellegrini more than rose to the challenge in her lively, informative FOOD HEROES as she shines a spotlight on those who are preserving tradition.

Compiling the book was a labor of love for Pellegrini who grew up in the Hudson Valley where her family raised chickens and honeybees. She followed her interest in food to the French culinary Institute in New York and two of N.Y.'s most highly rated restaurants. Thus, she brings intelligence, information and passion in her tribute to FOOD HEROES.

Each vignette reveals more about the individual artisan and includes photos as well as anecdotes. Once you've read about them you'll feel you know them, perhaps most of all you'll want to taste their food.

For instance, in a chapter titled Smoking Hog she introduces Alan Benton, hog breeder, and purveyor of some of the finest bacon and hams to be found. ([...]) It seems that in 1973 when Benton was a college guidance counselor he determined that he had made the wrong career choice. He knew he couldn't make it on the salary he received, so he just quit with no future plans. As his father said, "Son, that's not very prudent thinking."

As it turned out Benton heard of a man who was selling his business and decided he wanted to take it over. He never thought he'd become rich but some 36 years later his "intoxicating combination of pork, salt, smoke, brown, sugar, and time" result in what some consider the best ham and bacon in our country.

Pellegrini also discovered Stuart and Anissa Hull in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. The young couple converted an old bank building into a bakery complete with wood-fired brick oven on the ground floor and living quarters on the second floor. Tellico Grains Bakery ([...]) offers some of finest breads and pastries extant. True artisans they bake croissants so fine they literally melt in your mouth while their Italian Bread is deeply satisfying with a crunchy crust and fresh, natural taste.

Rocky Mountain Organic Meats ([...]) is another of the author's finds. Based in Powell, Wyoming, Rod Morrison offers Certified Organic grass-fed beef and grass-fed lamb. He even provides pet treats! All of his meats 100% grass-fed.

And there are more artisans to be found in FOOD HEROES plus 32 recipes. This is a stand alone volume - one you'll want to keep and also share. We hope Georgia Pellegrini continues in her travels and some day offers us volume two.


- Gail Cooke
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Food Heroes 24 Feb 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Food Heroes: 16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition

I'd like to see one person read Food Heroes and not be inspired to rush out and dig, forage or hunt (or at least find a way to support someone who does).

If I could have one book to explain the reason for my recent change in diet, this would be it. It's not about weight for me. It's about getting back to the roots. Georgia Pellegrini explains this pretty nicely in her introduction. To paraphrase part of her argument: Currently we have a fad-- a push for whole and organic foods. The foundation of this fad is a longing for a connection with what we're eating. And as she says, "When this tie to tradition is undone, food is much less satisfying."

In this book, Pellegrini explores the practice of 16 Culinary Artisans who are working to preserve and strengthen the traditions that tie us to our food, just like the cover says, and their stories are as beautifully written as beautifully lived. The topics covered in this book are filled with the potential to drone on and bore, but the passion and beauty that fuels the daily work of these Food Heroes also fills each page with the energy needed to save our culinary traditions and transform the relationship we have with what's on our plates.

Through this page-turner, we meet a potato breeder, striving to preserve the potatoes of our history. While most of the world imagines the brown russet potato with it's dense white "meat," David Langford nurtures potatoes of all shapes and shades of color. His description of each potato reads as if he's describing a beloved relative's personality and quirks. Our insistence on an easy and profitable potato crop has made us strangers to the many varieties David spends his life trying to preserve.

We meet a seed saver who is cataloging the many varieties of tomatoes and beans that, for the same reason as the potato (convenience and profitability), are disappearing from our plates. Bill Best, the seed saver, receives seeds from all over the world, from people hoping to preserve a piece of their culinary history and heritage. With so much of our cultural knowledge tied to our tastebuds, Bill's work is the work of an archaeologist, uncovering and protecting the clues to our past.

There's a salami maker whose tie to the land of his ancestors' is in his meat curing room. From the process he follows to achieve the perfect salami and cured meats to the healthy bacteria smuggled in from the homeland, he's spent his life successfully preserving a practice that has been in his family for generations. But his success wasn't easy. He's had to battle USDA representatives who know less about the meat curing process than I do. The organization cannot understand a traditional process that boasts a healthier product than the new, scientific, chemical-based processes.

There's a bee keeper hard at work protecting our bee populations. Small town farmers making cheese, butter, beer, whiskey and olive oil in the same way its been made for generations. Despite the efforts of government regulations, costs, and consumer demands, these artisans are quiet rebels, fighting against a system that creates obstacle after obstacle for their traditional methods. Yet, these artisans are the very people who maintain the integrity of their own practice without the interference of oversight agencies.

Because Pellegrini knows you'll be inspired to live a piece of the life these artisans have carved out for themselves, she gives several recipes after each section and a to-do list at the end.

To see the rest of this review visit:[...]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love food, you'll love this book 3 Nov 2010
By James J. Pellegrini - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm not a fan of most food books these days. The ones that aren't just plain trash are overtly commercial vehicles for celebrities hawking their latest line of pots & pans. Wait a minute, those are just plain trash, too.

But once in a while, a book comes along that's written by somebody who obviously loves what they're writing about, and can do it well. This is one of those books.

Chef Georgia Pellegrini (unrelated to me) is a breath of fresh air in a culinary scene that worships 30-minute-meals and the wonders of boneless, skinless meats. She's a real food lover who values timeless traditions embodied by the slow foods and artisan producers profiled in her book. This is not a "how-to" book (though it does contain a handful of brilliant recipes), or a deep dive into a narrow area of culinary minutiae. It's an eclectic celebration of the art of artisan food processing, delivered in the form of artisan profiles. The stories are moving, heart-felt descriptions of artisans and their craft, and will make you long for the foods described in each chapter.

The only criticism I have, if you can call it that, is the Euro-centric focus (considering that most American food traditions are handed down from Europeans). Perhaps this is an opportunity to even further expand horizons for future works. I vote for a chapter on miso artisans in your next book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nourishing! 9 Feb 2012
By David L. Jenkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book, very well written with simple yet wonderful recipes. It has inspired me to spend more quality time in the garden and kitchen!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hunting for the real 30 Sep 2010
By wogan - Published on Amazon.com
Georgia Pellegrini grew up with a family that used sustainable foods, she drifted to Wall Street in adulthood but quickly returned to the food world and has picked out 16 culinary heroes from across the world to write about. Her writing is both easy to read and illuminating, even if you are not quite `into' the world of sustainable ingredients. She will teach you that you definitely need to enter it and appreciate and support these men and women who are continuing the practice of good natural foods.

These heroes are ones who preserve food types and preparations of: potatoes, smoking hogs, fungus-mushrooms, beer, salami, olive oil, heirloom seeds, honeybees (containing a very interesting theory for the worrying disappearance of a number of honeybees), oysters, cheese, butter, chocolate, tamales, persimmons, whiskey and figs. The stories of these individuals and Georgia's visits to them are engrossing, she includes a to-do list and a listing of names, addresses phone numbers and web sites of those and more than she writes of. A conversion chart is included, as is a recipe index for the several recipes that follow each chapter, as well as a normal index.
Hint... do not miss the whiskey salad and bourbon pecan tart recipe - they are amazing..

As Georgia writes, people today "seek satisfaction in the drive-through. In response chefs today seduce patrons with novelty and food pyrotechnics; little towers of nothing in the center of oversized plates, while customers are increasingly distracted by what is stamped `healthy'. Artisanal beer is abandoned for a lower-calorie version. Fat is avoided like the plague. And as a result, good food has lost its luster."
This sums up what the goal of this book is and if you wish to gain knowledge of what real food is, you would do well to read and learn.
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