By rights, native Iowan Nancy Loseke should’ve grown up with a passion for corn oil. But it was olive oil—the younger, the better—that turned her head during a sojourn to Sicily several years ago. Her only regret…besides the money she calculates she’s wasted on bad olive oil…is that she didn’t discover fresh-pressed olive oil sooner.
Now she’s making up for lost time by searching the world for the finest examples of what Homer reverently called “liquid gold.” Several times a year, she travels to olive oil-producing regions to visit olive oil operations, interview producers, and of course, taste newly bottled olive oil.
Loseke is a food journalist, editor, and a recipe developer for cookbook author and television personality Steven Raichlen. She is the former Research Director of The Rosengarten Report, an award-winning publication devoted to food, wine, and travel. She is a formally-trained chef, and sharpened her olive oil evaluation skills in the field and at the University of California-Davis. Loseke is a member of the California Olive Oil Council.
Currently, Loseke writes a bi-weekly olive oil e-zine, Fresh Press. With almost evangelical zeal, she preaches the pleasures and benefits of fresh extra-virgin olive oil and rails against the poor-quality, chemically-altered oils (especially “light” oils) being sold in America. Recipes, travel tips, and information on the rituals of tasting olive oil are part of the editorial mix.
Loseke has a B.A. in Finance. In her spare time, she barbecues (she owns five grills and is working on a new book with Raichlen), reads, and plays Scrabble. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and Santa Monica, California.
Tj Robinson grew up in the heart of the majestic Mountains of Western North Caroilna, in Asheville. Every summer, when he was just a little tyke, he could be found running barefoot around his grandparents’ vegetable garden—plucking little, perfectly ripe, Heirloom Tommy Toe tomatoes fresh from the vine and popping them directly into his mouth. While growing up, his entire family was obsessed with eating incredibly fresh food—they were always stringing beans, shucking corn, digging potatoes, picking concord grapes and fresh strawberries, foraging for seasonal wild berries or making their way up into the mountains to fill up glass jugs with cold mountain spring water. These early-childhood farming, foraging, and eating rituals programmed Tj to seek out the best when it comes to all things edible.
As a teenager he began to travel and discovered and fell in love with diverse cultures, especially their cuisines and people. Tj flunked out of “real college,” as he calls it—for lack of interest. So, he went to Culinary School on a whim. He said that at least he would be able to have good dinner parties and backyard barbecues. Immediately upon his acceptance to culinary school, he acquired a part-time cooking position at The Biltmore Estate in Asheville—eventually working his way up to Chef of the Winery. Tj enjoyed going to school so much that after he received his Culinary Degree he earned degrees in Hospitality Management Baking/Pastry Arts.
While working as the Chef at the Biltmore Estate Winery, Tj met food and wine writer and Food TV personality, David Rosengarten, as he was one of the estate’s visiting celebrity chefs. Tj was in charge of “taking care of David” for the weekend. They immediately hit it off. Late one evening, after all their work for the day was done, on a little BBQ tour of the area they got to chatting about New York. “I was enthralled by David’s stories about eating in New York,” Tj recalls. After a few more hours of chatting and way too much’que, he popped the big question….“David, might you be able to help me secure a job in NYC?” And David replied, “Yes!”
A few weeks later Tj packed a few suitcases and moved to NYC to work alongside David. He readily credits Rosengarten with teaching him how to be a “professional taster” and for sponsoring an extraordinary number of food and wine experiences—experiences that now shape the way Tj thinks about food.
A few years into his tenure with David, they decided—as business partners—to start a food, wine, and travel-related newsletter, called The Rosengarten Report. Tj became an Associate Editor, and the new publication went on to win the prestigious James Beard Award. While living in NYC, Tj spent his days researching and tasting all sorts of gourmet specialties. By night, he could be found dining in New York’s finest restaurants, or on the hunt for the city’s cheap ethnic gastronomic gems along with foodie friends.
Tj has always been an intrepid world traveler and explorer and his collaboration with Rosengarten allowed Tj to fully explore the world in search of the best—from tracking down the tastiest salumi in Corsica, visiting beautiful dairies in Israel, following the global olive harvest, or hunting for a great Malbec in Argentina. His travels have taken him to over 30 countries.
Along the way, Tj saw an opportunity: There were food products and wines in the world that were not available in America. So Tj, along with David’s help, and their Publisher, Salt Pig Publishing, decided to start importing top-notch foodie items that would fulfill the needs of America’s most discerning palates. He enjoyed this task so very much that he decided to devote himself to this activity full-time—as a super-niche, gourmet food product developer and direct marketing specialist.Currently, Tj is living, in the Washington, DC area—when he’s not globe trotting for new discoveries that is…(Tj gives thanks to his cats, “Ollie” Noodle and Tigger for their unwavering support and devotion, even though he’s never at home!)