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Maggie Mariolis

Title: Editorial Assistant

At Food & Wine since: 2010

Born: New Orleans. Was a little kid in Hancock County, Tennessee (nearest town: Sneedville), and a bigger kid in Atlanta.

Background: After earning a degree in sociology from Tulane University, I moved to New York City to act (naturally). I waited tables and tended bar for several years while auditioning infrequently at best. When I decided I needed something more sustainably gratifying, I turned to my love of cooking and baking and enrolled in the pastry program at the French Culinary Institute. From there I worked in pastry for a couple of years (Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC, Bacchanalia in Atlanta) before landing an internship here at F&W, which eventually led to the flabbergastingly cool job I have now. Pinch me.

What I do at Food & Wine: Research food trends and assist the food editors in whatever way I can. Occasionally I get to jump into the Test Kitchen to help out with recipes or retests, which is always a kick.

Best childhood food ritual: Every spring growing up, my family would hit the woods near my grandparents’ farm in East Tennessee armed with grocery bags and walking sticks and fill every one of those many bags with morel mushrooms. I mean, pounds and pounds of those pricey little suckers. Hunting morels—called “dry-land fishing”—was a rite of the season, hours spent lifting rotting leaves with the ends of our sticks, the peace of collective concentration broken by cries of, “Found one! Found another!!” and my brothers throwing caterpillars at me. If there’s anything better than a plump, funky morel dredged in salted cornmeal and fried, I don’t know what it is.

Most amazing restaurant meal: For our first anniversary, my husband and I went to Per Se, where he had just ended a stint as a bartender. They absolutely blew our minds: five hours and 23 courses of the most thoughtful, perfect food—cerebral and sensual simultaneously. I think I impressed everyone with my Joey Chestnut–like capacity for eating.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.