Cover image of OBSESSIVES on CHOW.com


This is a regular series called Obsessives, in which CHOW explores the worlds of singularly focused food-industry figures. These are the people with the dirty hands, answering detailed questions about the work they do.

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Jeremiah "Jere" Gettle is saving food from extinction. Hyperbole? Yes. But every time a rare heirloom vegetable cedes its patch of dirt to a generic variety, bred for efficiency rather than flavor, that piece of food becomes extinct. When Gettle was 17, he started Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in his bedroom, which then became a successful store in his hometown in Missouri, and he has recently converted an old bank into a seed bank in Petaluma, California. In this video he defines what heirlooms seeds are, explains why genetically modified crops are bad, and gives some good tips on how to save seeds yourself.


5 May 2010

Rank #1

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John Nese is the proprietor of Galco's Soda Pop Stop in LA. His father ran it as a grocery store, and when the time came for John to take charge, he decided to convert it into the ultimate soda-lover's destination. About 500 pops line the shelves, sourced lovingly by John from around the world. John has made it his mission to keep small soda-makers afloat and help them find their consumers. Galco's also acts as a distributor for restaurants and bars along the West Coast, spreading the gospel of soda made with cane sugar (no high-fructose corn syrup if John can avoid it).


19 Aug 2009

Rank #2

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Here's the cliche: Alex Hozven craved pickles when she was pregnant with her first son, 12 years ago. And the twist: She started her own pickling business. The Cultured Pickle Shop sells pickles ranging from classic sauerkrauts to unusual kimchees and Kombuchas- way beyond the sour dill. But it's the experiments, like the mysterious nuka pot or pickled blood oranges, that really get Hozven excited. There's plenty of zing, zest, pow in all her pickles, though.


17 Mar 2009

Rank #3

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Sean Thackrey is a winemaker, indeed, but he is so much more: an archivist, historian, linguist, photographer, art collector. Thackrey shares his views on the importance of barrels, respect for ancient techniques like letting grapes rest, the word terroir (he hates it), and much more. For wine aficionados, he's an inspiration. For wine novices, he's a deep source of knowledge.


26 Feb 2009

Rank #4

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Nach Waxman is owner of one of the largest food bookstores in the country, Kitchen Arts & Letters, in Manhattan. From his perch behind the counter, he sees customers-famous chefs, not-famous line cooks, and civilians alike-streaming in to peruse his bountiful, unusual collection. Waxman shows us the basement, where he's got some truly rare books. And he shares an unlikely bookstore success story: beating Barnes & Noble.


19 Dec 2008

Rank #5

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Ann Cooper was a celebrity chef before she wrote a book, Bitter Harvest, that got her thinking about the connection between food and health. She has spent the past five years as head lunch lady for the Berkeley, CA school system, writing another book, Lunch Lessons, along the way. Ann's mission? To make sure every kid gets the healthy breakfast and lunch they need.


15 Oct 2008

Rank #6

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Author, television host, entrepreneur, and cheese expert Will Studd has fought to allow raw-milk cheese to be sold in Australia (those same laws can have an impact on U.S. restrictions as well). Studd has traveled the world with a film crew trying to record the traditions of artisanal cheesemaking.


12 Sep 2008

Rank #7

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Rebecca Federman, librarian, blogger, and menu aficionado, takes CHOW into the bowels of the New York Public Library, sharing stories about the library’s menu collection and its founder, Miss Frank E. Buttolph.


28 Aug 2008

Rank #8

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An oven built by hand, tile by tile. Four pizzas on the menu, with no fancy-pants toppings. Anthony Mangieri does one thing at Una Pizza Napoletana, and he does it the very best way he can.


27 Aug 2008

Rank #9

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It’s very simple: alcohol, wormwood, and some anise characteristics. But not simple at all: The carefully calibrated mix of aromatics and herbs that goes into the absinthe made by Lance Winters of St. George Spirits took extensive testing to get just right.


26 Aug 2008

Rank #10