Great Taste would not exist without our enthusiastic and generous contributors, which is why we want to turn the spotlight on them! We’ve got chefs and students, teachers and experts – so read on to meet the wonderful people that write for your pleasure. They all have Great Taste!
Graphic Artist – Print
Kristine Schneider – I am currently a happily enrolled student with the OCC Culinary Arts Program in Costa Mesa. I graduated from Cal State Long Beach in May 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies and a minor in Hospitality Management. Being a constant lover of all things food/eating related, I’m delighted to absorb new foodie things with the magazine. I am a part-timer here, but also have a saute cook position at a restaurant in Disney’s California Adventures. My parents have always been enthusiastic eaters, so thanks to them I was introduced to many new tastes. I grew up on an orange ranch in Visalia, CA, located north of here in the Central Valley. I feel it’s because of these roots that I have such a deep appreciation and passion for the culinary industry… I endlessly daydream about all the potentially amazing food concepts out there and I look forward to continued opportunities in the industry as I dive further into my career.
Robert Johnson –My name is Robert Johnson and I am a freelance writer, foodie and language nut. I am originally from Oklahoma, but am now glad to call California my home. I have always had a passion for both writing and food. My introduction into the culinary world began when I lived in Portland, OR and was befriended by the Western Culinary Institute’s graduating class of 2000. Without ever having attended a single culinary class, I am able to make the five mother sauces, can Tourne a potato, and will completely wreck a souffle. I have aB.A. in Spanish Literature and an M.A. in Anthropological Linguistics. When I am not thinking or writing about food, I am writing or thinking about how language is structured and how humans came to speak. I am very grateful to have met Teri and to write for Great Taste where I am ableto combine two of my interests – writing and food.
Linda Mensinga – Linda Mensinga writes, researches and edits for Great Taste. Researching restaurants and hotels, she interviews the best and brightest chefs, not necessarily the most Lindafamous, to learn their secrets and recipes. Their talent and dedication never cease to inspire her. She focuses now on California locations enjoying the diversity of cultures and cuisines.
One Bible verse she lives by:Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Hey! My name is Tiffany Haslacker. I began my love affair with Great Taste as an intern and am currently the Assistant Editor. I get my elbows dirty in writing, editing, and Tiffanyresearching and am willing to try any food once (as long as it’s not spicy, alive, slimy, has eyes, moves when you touch it, looks gross or smells gross).
If my mother had never shoved that Cinderella journal in my hand when I was a little girl or perpetually offered up reading as a solution to boredom, I might not be where I am today. I grew up in no man’s land (also known as Apple Valley, CA), where you could either be creative or get into trouble. I decided to choose the former. Growing up I never fathomed that I could set myself on a career path that constituted my passion. When I hit the real world, I came to understand that it would be difficult but achievable.
I graduated from Cal State Long Beach in Fall 2012 with Bachelor’s Degrees in both English Literature and Creative Writing. All that really means is that I have to work twice as hard to redefine everything I learned in college about what it means to be a writer and apply a new definition to my endeavors. Being a part of the Great Taste team has supplied me with the ideal foundation to do so.
I follow three rules:
(If these sound appealing, feel free to replace number 2 with whatever your passion is.)
Chef Katie Averill – Baking RackI’m Chef Katie Averill, and I am a chef instructor. Used to be that you could find me with a young audience at the Art Institute of California – Santa Ana or at more casual classes at Tspoons in Ladera Ranch. In 2012 I took the plunge and opened my very own Culinary School in Anaheim. At Eat Street Culinary in Anaheim. We cater to many age and demographic groups at varied classes covering a wide range of topics. I also cater, and I write the Baking Rack column for Great Taste! I am from San Diego, but my cooking career has taken me to San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C. Currently, I live in Laguna Beach. I’ve been writing for Great Taste for about six years now. I owned Mirabeau restaurant for five years, and I am planning to open another restaurant – hopefully sooner rather than later. Every day in the hospitality industry is different and you never know what the day will have in store. There is never a dull moment. I also love the instant gratification of cooking and feeding others.
Chef Gabe Caliendo – Spice RackHey, I’m Gabe Caliendo, VP of Food and Beverage and Principalof The Lazy Dog Cafe and author ofGreat Taste’sSpice Rack column. I am a first generation American. My parents and several generations before are from Naples, Italy. I was born in Long Island, NY. I’ve also lived in Tampa Bay, Fl, but I have lived in Southern California almost all of my life – 25 years. I’ve been working withGreat Tastefor nearly four years. If I wasn’t cooking I would be farming. Grapes, coffee, fruits, nuts or anything else that tastes great, like honey or agave. I could see myself as a cheesemaker, brewer, or distiller as well. I could never chooseonething that I love about the hospitality industry – I enjoy creating, I love eating – I appreciate sharing with others. I have become addicted to the adrenaline of working in kitchens that are very busy:.it’s a rush!
Chef Jason Stein – Farmer’s Market ReportHi, Chef Jason Stein here. I’m Executive Chef of Parkers’ Lighthouse in Long Beach and Jaqu’s “The Place” in Huntington Beach. Originally from Westminster, I’m definitely a local boy and it’s great to be able to work in an area I know so well. I’ve been working withGreat Taste Magazinefor about four months, writing the Farmer’s Market Report for each issue. In my spare time, what little I have, I really enjoy growing exotic produce and trying to find unique ingredients to cook. There are so many fantastic options, it’s almost seems a waste to keep using the same old stuff! Like many people, I’m sure, I enjoy the energy and fast pace of the restaurant business. I find it amazing that so many people can cram into a small area like a kitchen and still be able to produce such great things.
Principle Production Voices
Lisa Brink – Graphic Artist – PrintHello, I’m Lisa Brink, and I am a graphic designer, art director and founder of DesignSmorgasbord. I was born in Florence, Italy, spent my teenage years in Vancouver, B.C. and then moved down to Southern California for college. I currently live in Long Beach, CA. The first issue of Great TasteI designed was Summer 2004. Since then, the magazine has evolved and changed into a piece that I am very proud of. Working with Teri and the rest of the crew at Great Tastehas always been a pleasure: and they give me total creative freedom! Now that’s hard to find! In 1996 I graduated from Art Center College of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Advertising. At that time I wanted the high power, high stress, high salary job that a creative career in advertising provides. After a few years in that industry, I ran as far and as fast as I could to the beach, took up surfing and started my own graphic design business. My life now consists of lots of time in the water to keep my creativity flowing and many fun, exciting projects for inspiring people trying to make their mark in the world. The restaurant industry and I are a perfect fit. I was raised in Tuscany, Italy by a mother from New Orleans. So, as you can imagine, I love to eat! The bonus of having restaurant clients as that you always leave meetings with a full belly.
Michael Rutt – Photography EditorMy name is Michael Rutt and I contribute the majority of the photos featured in Great Taste Magazine. I was born in San Francisco but I was raised in England, Sweden and Malta. My specialty is food photography but I love all types of photography whether it be editorial or commercial. Food photography always presents a challenge; some things just don’t look as good in two dimensions. Overcoming that challenge is what makes this field so rewarding. I have been working withGreat Tastefor about five years now and I have seen it develop and grow. Orange County’s restaurant industry is constantly changing and contains a vast variety of flavors.Great Tastekeeps people informed and in touch with this ever-changing service industry.