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40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under

These 40 up-and-comers—all 40 years old or younger—are changing the way Americans eat and drink, from a vodka distiller who rewrote Nebraska's Prohibition-era laws to a White House chef who's fiercely fighting to improve school-lunch programs.


Food Products & Artisans

brett beach and tim mccollum

Brett Beach & Tim McCollum: Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers

After doing volunteer stints in Madagascar, Beach, 35, and McCollum, 33, returned in 2008 to found Madécasse, a chocolate company in which every step of the process—not only cultivation but also packaging and distribution—is done locally...more

Siggi Hilmarsson

Siggi Hilmarsson: Icelandic Yogurt-Maker

How often can one man claim to have brought a whole new food to the US? Iceland native Hilmarsson, 34, started making skyr—the thick, tangy yogurt of his homeland—and single-handedly popularized it across America...more


Michael Kirban & Ira Liran

Michael Kirban & Ira Liran: Coconut Water Popularizers

In the span of a few years, childhood friends Kirban (photo), 35, and Liran, 32, took coconut water—a super-nutritious, low-calorie drink—and turned it into Vita Coco, the biggest company in the category, with celebrity investors like Madonna...more


Matt Jennings

Matt Jennings: Chef && Cheesemaker

Lots of chefs make their own ricotta or chèvre, but few have gone as far or as deep as Jennings, 34. Not only does he run an excellent cheese shop (Farmstead) and a bistro (La Laiterie) in Providence, Rhode Island, he also regularly collaborates with small farms...more


Emily Olson & Rob LaFave

Emily Olson && Rob LaFave: Online Food Scouts

When they launched Foodzie, a website connecting thousands of food artisans to customers, Olson, 26, and LaFave, 27, created the world's biggest online food market...more


Jeremy Tooker: Coffee Craftsman

Jeremy Tooker: Coffee Craftsman

Coffee's rising star, Tooker, 31, launched Four Barrel in San Francisco in 2008 and quickly started supplying prestigious restaurants like New York City's Maialino...more


Minh Tsai: Soy Artisan

Minh Tsai: Soy Artisan

Compared to processed tofu, the artisanal kind has an entirely different flavor—and Tsai, 39, is on a mission to prove it. He began selling his fresh-that-day tofu at the Palo Alto, California, farmers' market in 2004...more


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Wine, Beer & Spirits

Charles Bieler: Wine Collaborator

Charles Bieler: Wine Collaborator

A visionary marketer and compulsive collaborator, Bieler, 35, takes what could be pure gimmick—selling good Cabernet in a screw-top jug, for example—and turns it into a bona fide opportunity for worthy wines...more


Tracey Brandt: Urban Winemaker

Tracey Brandt: Urban Winemaker

By experimenting with novel techniques—like making wine using grapes growing wild on abandoned vineyard land—Brandt, 40, and her husband, Jared, are helping to change the way wine is made. They're also changing where it's made...more


Matthew Cain: Eco-Wine Importer

Matthew Cain: Eco-Wine Importer

Each carton of Yellow+Blue wine Cain sells has a carbon footprint half that of the average bottle. Cain, 40, who has worked for renowned wine importer Kermit Lynch, sources high-quality organic wine from around the world...more


Rob Cooper: Spirits Inventor

Rob Cooper: Spirits Inventor

A third-generation distiller, the 33-year-old Cooper is one of the most influential spirits makers in the country. His deliciously subtle St-Germain elderflower liqueur—made with petals picked by hand each spring in the French Alps—permanently altered the cocktail menus at bars everywhere...more


Christian Ettinger: Organic Brewmaster

Christian Ettinger: Organic Brewmaster

Portland, Oregon, has long been known for both craft beer and eco-consciousness. Now Ettinger, 37, is combining them: The former brewmaster of Laurelwood, he launched his own organic craft brewery, Hopworks, in 2008—it's a 10,000-square-foot, biodiesel-powered facility...more


Zac Triemert: Craft Distiller

Zac Triemert: Craft Distiller

Triemert, 36, helped rewrite Nebraska's Prohibition-era liquor laws to open the doors to craft brewers and spirits distillers alike. He makes his vodka, Joss, with organic Nebraska wheat and filtered water from the Ogallala aquifer...more


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Brokers of Responsible Eating

Annemarie Ahearn: Farm-to-Table Teacher

Annemarie Ahearn: Farm-to-Table Teacher

The 29-year-old Ahearn created her cooking school, Salt Water Farm, on the Maine coast as a playland for DIY cooks. Guests can learn how to butcher pigs, infuse vodka and pickle vegetables...more


Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru & Jonathan Neman: Eco-Salad-Chain Founders

Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru & Jonathan Neman: Eco-Salad-Chain Founders

...The restaurants run on wind energy, source local ingredients and send a fuel-efficient truck around the city selling organic frozen yogurt...more


Robert Litt: Urban-Farm Pioneer

Robert Litt: Urban-Farm Pioneer

When he opened the quirky Urban Farm Store last year in Portland, Oregon, the 39-year-old Litt officially became a trailblazer in the urban-homesteading movement...more


Chris Parachini & Brandon Hoy: Locavore Leaders

Chris Parachini & Brandon Hoy: Locavore Leaders

Parachini, 38, and Hoy, 33, founded Roberta's not only as a Brooklyn restaurant but also as an incubator for other locavore projects. These include the biggest rooftop farm in New York City...more


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Making a Statement: Food Movements, Art & Charity

Anya Fernald: Slow-Food Activist

Anya Fernald: Slow-Food Activist

...Now the founder of the consulting firm Live Culture Company, she helps small-scale artisans expand their businesses while following principles of sustainability...more


Sam Kass: White House Food-Policy Adviser

Sam Kass: White House Food-Policy Adviser

Within three years, the 31-year-old Kass went from being the Obama family's chef to an unprecedented White House role that's a combination of chef, gardener, educator and policy adviser...more


Anthony Myint & Danny Bowien: Charitable Chefs

Anthony Myint & Danny Bowien: Charitable Chefs

Myint, 32, founded Mission Street Food in San Francisco to raise money for good causes: In its first year, the pop-up restaurant donated more than $20,000 to a local food bank...more


Jennifer Rubell: Food Artist

Jennifer Rubell: Food Artist

Rubell, 40, creates the kind of interactive experiences that rarely happen at art galleries—like encasing desserts in white balloons that guests have to figure out how to pop...more


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Food Entertainiment & Information

Geoff Bartakovics & Nick Fauchald: E-Entrepreneurs

Geoff Bartakovics & Nick Fauchald: E-Entrepreneurs

Bartakovics (chief executive, 33) and Fauchald (editor in chief, 31) founded Tasting Table as a food e-newsletter that scouts trends and discovers up-and-coming artisans...more


Zach Brooks: Food Blogger

Zach Brooks: Food Blogger

...Four years ago, the 34-year-old launched his Midtown Lunch website in Manhattan with the belief that a tasty, $10-or-less lunch is every office worker's inalienable right. Now he has thousands of followers...more


Amanda Hesser: Cookbook Author

Amanda Hesser: Cookbook Author

Hesser, 39, didn't just update the 1961 edition of The Essential New York Times Cookbook; she excavated more than a century's worth of recipes from the newspaper's archives for an account of the evolution of American cooking...more


Kenji Lopez-Alt: Food-Science Whiz

Kenji Lopez-Alt: Food-Science Whiz

An MIT grad and chef, Lopez-Alt, 31, has earned a fanatical following for his blog, the Food Lab, by demystifying cooking techniques like sous vide (his version involves a plastic cooler)...more


Brendan Newnam & Rico Gagliano: Public Radio Hosts

Brendan Newnam & Rico Gagliano: Public Radio Hosts

...At the Dinner Party Download, [Newman] and co-host Gagliano, 40, cover food trends, too—and their hipster podcasts have already been downloaded more than three million times.more


Matt Timms: Contest Impresario

Matt Timms: Contest Impresario

In founding Chili Takedown competitions, Timms, 36, has created a new way for amateur cooks to become part of a food community—through raucous events that are part Pillsbury Bake-Off, part WWE match...more


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Style, Beauty & Design

Tata Harper: Beauty Maven

Tata Harper: Beauty Maven

An up-and-coming skincare entrepreneur, the Colombian-born Harper, 35, grows some of her organic ingredients—calendula, lavender, narcissus flower—on her Vermont farm...more


Peter Karpinski: Hotel Restaurateur

Peter Karpinski: Hotel Restaurateur

A protégé of Philadelphia empire-builder Stephen Starr, Karpinski, 35, of Sage Restaurant Group, is bringing indie style to big hotel restaurants in cities often overlooked by other boutique hoteliers...more


Alison Pincus: Online Housewares Seller

Alison Pincus: Online Housewares Seller

Launched by Pincus, 36, and co-founder Susan Feldman just last year, the website One Kings Lane has registered nearly a million members, who come for 72-hour "tag sales"...more


Frances Ro: Housewares Hunter

Frances Ro: Housewares Hunter

Since taking over her father's Los Angeles–based importing business and department store a few years ago, the 34-year-old Ro has brought incredible new kitchenwares to the US...more


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Published November 2010
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