The Daily Meal has long benefited from the informal advice and assistance of some of our nation's top culinary figures, people we've gotten to know personally or professionally through the years, who have been generous with their expertise in helping us to make this unique food and drink mega-site ever better.
About a year ago, we announced the creation of The Daily Meal Council, through which we could both acknowledge and formalize our relationship with those valuable friends of ours. The roster included chefs, restaurateurs, writers, purveyors, food historians, and others who play key roles in the food world.
The Council isn't an official organization — just a loose-knit group of people who know and love food, a collection of knowledgeable people who have agreed to share their opinions and their expertise with us from time to time. Some of them are famous (for instance, Mario Batali, Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud, and Ruth Reichl), others are not as well-known but are extremely savvy about various culinary matters (like Portland Meat Collective founder Camas Davis, Virginia-based food historian Patrick Evans-Hylton, and Middle Eastern food authority Charles Perry).
The Council is, by design, an exclusive group. We haven't invited every good chef and smart writer we know — if we did, the Council's ranks would number many hundreds — but instead have chosen each member for a particular specialty or field of interest. The diversity of our choices is reflected in the five new members we are now welcoming to The Daily Meal Council. In alphabetical order, they are:
As vice-president of strategic initiatives and industry leadership at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Drescher oversees and helps organize conferences, leadership retreats, strategic partnerships, and more for the Napa Valley branch of America's most prestigious culinary school. He was also the creator of the acclaimed annual Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival and Worlds of Healthy Flavors and Menus of Change programs, among other CIA “think tank” initiatives.
One of the best-known and well-liked of American celebrity chefs and food television personalities, Flay is the proprietor and executive chef of numerous restaurants, among them Mesa Grill in Las Vegas; Bobby Flay Steak in Atlantic City; Bar Americain in New York City and at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut; and the new Gato, also in New York City, where he surprises and pleases customers with the un-celebrity-chef-like practice of often actually cooking in the kitchen. He also has 18 outposts of Bobby's Burger Palace in 11 states.
An American of Greek descent, Kochilas has written 18 books on Greek cuisine and countless articles on the subject and on other food topics for numerous magazines and newspapers. She consults for the Hellenic Gourmet shop at the Athens International Airport, is consulting chef for three popular Greek restaurants — Pylos in New York City, Avli in Chicago, and Axia in Tenafly, New Jersey — and recently created the opening menu for Volos in Toronto. She runs her own web-TV operation in Greece, GreekFoodTV, and has appeared on numerous American cooking shows — including Throwdown with Bobby Flay. With her husband, Vassilis Stenos, Kochilas owns and operates Glorious Greek Kitchen, a cooking school on the island of Ikaria. She divides her time between Ikaria, Athens, and New York.
One of America's most prominent and prolific food writers, Mariani has been the longtime restaurant columnist for Esquire and Bloomberg News, and is the author of numerous books, including The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, The Four Seasons: A History of America's Premier Restaurant, The Dictionary of Italian Food & Drink, and How Italian Food Conquered the World.
He was the editor of Italian Cuisine: Basic Cooking Techniques, which became the textbook for Italian cooking studies at the Culinary Institute of America, and wrote the food and restaurant sections of The Encyclopedia of New York City. Mariani also publishes a weekly newsletter, Mariani's Virtual Gourmet.
A veteran of the kitchens at Le Cirque (under Daniel Boulud), Le Bernardin, and Gotham Bar & Grill, among other New York restaurants, Telepan came into prominence as chef at midtown's Judson Grill. He has since earned acclaim, and a Michelin star, at his own Telepan restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Telepan is active in school nutrition programs, and since 2008 has been the executive chef of Wellness in the Schools (WITS), a non-profit organization dedicated to making school food healthy. In 2009, he was chosen to participate in Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to School task force.