Illustration by David Badders

Illustration by David Badders (April 18, 2012)

"The subhead is 'Thoughts on food and life,' and it's my life and it's about me," she said.

Calling the blog Hogwash is an insider's nod to Seattle. Her introduction to the city took place at the Pike Place Market, whose unofficial mascot is a big bronze pig named Rachel. The market is the focus of her book, due out in May, called "Pike Place Market Recipes: 130 Delicious Ways to Bring Home Seattle's Famous Market" (Sasquatch, $23.95).

With the book projects out of the way, Thomson has a big list of story ideas to tackle. And she's finding more editors interested in working with her.

"One of the helpful things about having a strong voice is editors get to know me easily," she said.

Michael W. Twitty

He's a food writer, yes, but also a culinary historian, a Hebrew school teacher, a living history interpreter and a proponent for social justice.

"For me, all food has meaning. All food has import. All food is contextual," said the resident of Rockville, Md.

Twitty's focus: "the foodways of Africa, enslaved African-Americans, African America and the African and Jewish diasporas." His writings and recipes can be found on his blog, A second blog,, attempts to trace his ancestry back through the centuries via food. He has also written articles for "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America" and a soon-to-be-published book, "Rice and Beans."

For this summer, he's planning what he calls "The Southern Discomfort Tour," a culinary journey from Maryland to Louisiana and back that he hopes will result in a book or a documentary. Using his own family's enslaved past as the touchstone, Twitty wants to explore the plight of black farmers today while showing how food links to family, identity and community.

"What sets me apart from others who do this writing is I'm totally immersed in the foodways of the rural antebellum South," Twitty said. "There are not many people willing to go to the creative and mental space of the Old South, come to terms with it and look at that history. You don't want to touch it, but I will. I have to, or the story won't get told."

Virginia Willis

Having worked behind the scenes for such bold-type folks as Martha Stewart, Anne Willan and Nathalie Dupree, the Atlanta writer has been largely under the radar outside of the food community. But now she's flying solo — and her profile is rapidly gaining altitude.

"I can tell by the people calling me that something has shifted recently, and in a good way," said Willis, author of the recently published "Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company" (Ten Speed, $35).

Willis is getting justifiable recognition as an authority on Southern cooking. Just named a contributing food editor for Southern Living magazine, she respects tradition but is willing to be creative, too.

But Willis doesn't want to be pigeon-holed into one cuisine — or medium.

"I think food writing is a much broader term," she said. "I can write for magazines and newspapers, do cookbooks and also write a blog."

Bill Daley is a food and features reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

Cook like them

Click here to link to recipes from each food writer's work.