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Food Heroes: 16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition

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  • Posted September 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    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

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    Posted October 18, 2010

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