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America's 50 Most Powerful People in Food 2012

Our favorites among the food-forward achievers.
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The Daily Meal, founded by Colman Andrews of Saveur, has come out with its annual list of movers and shakers in the food world. A portion of the list comprises big corporate players—the No. 1 spot went to Brooke Johnson, president of The Food Network, while John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, and David Dillon, chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co., the largest grocery retailer in the country, placed 21st and 30th, respectively—but you’ll also find a number of familiar faces, influential players who have inspired, entertained and educated us throughout the year. Check out the highlights—and some of our favorite choices—below, and see the full list of the people who have put their stamp on the specialty food world.—Denise Shoukas

 

#13: Wolfgang Puck, Chef-Restaurateur.
 

This world-renowned master chef and restaurateur has crafted a vast empire that includes fine-dining restaurants, premium catering services, fast-casual restaurants, cookbooks and licensed products that have changed the face of food. His recipes are made using fresh, natural and organic ingredients and celebrate local farmers, sustainable seafood and humanely treated animals, from his airport chain of fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Express restaurants to his soups, all-natural stocks and organic broths sold in grocery stores nationwide.

 

#31: Thomas Keller, Chef-Restaurateur.
 

Boasting three Michelin stars for two of his restaurants—The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York City—Keller has set the bar for French haute cuisine and inspires chefs around the world to excel at their craft. Recently, he partnered with a former staff member who created a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour substitute for his restaurants and Bouchon bakeries. Called C4C, or Cup for Cup, the flour can be used in equal parts in place of all-purpose flour in most recipes and its now available at Williams-Sonoma stores. (Read more about it here.) Keller’s cookbooks give home chefs a peek into his brilliance and a chance to learn from the master.

 

#33: José Andrés, Chef-Restaurateur.
 

Aside from being an internationally recognized culinary innovator, author, television personality and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup, which includes Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel and minibar in Washington, D.C., Andrés stands apart from the competition. The passionate food advocate is director and chairman of World Central Kitchen, which seeks to address the root causes of global hunger. He will be the emcee of the annual NASFT sofi Awards ceremony, which will take place on June 18 at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington D.C.
 

 

Here are our favorite picks of those who have positively affected the way we eat, buy and grow food:


#26: Alice Waters
, chef–restaurateur and founder and director of The Edible Schoolyard
#28: Bill Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength
#41: Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA
#45: Arturo Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers
#50: Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power

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