Celebration Weekend 2012 Featured Presenters

Come meet, listen, and learn from the West's top experts in food, wine, home, garden, and travel!

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Guy Fieri, Chef, TV Host, Author, Restauranteur

Guy Fieri, Chef, TV Host, Author, Restauranteur 

Guy Fieri, host of Food Network’s top-rated show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, began his love affair with food at the age of ten, selling soft pretzels from “The Awesome Pretzel,” a three-wheeled bicycle cart he built with his father. By selling pretzels and washing dishes, Fieri earned enough money in six years to study abroad as an exchange student in Chantilly, France. There he gained a profound appreciation for international cuisine and the lifestyle associated with it. In 1996, Fieri launched his culinary career with business partner Steve Gruber, opening Johnny Garlic’s, his first restaurant, in hometown Santa Rosa, California.

Since the first Johnny Garlic’s, Fieri has gone on to create a culinary empire as a popular TV host, chef of six acclaimed restaurants, and New York Times’ best-selling cookbook author. In 2006, Fieri premiered his first show, Guy's Big Bite, on Food Network. Today, this “culinary rock star” also hosts top-rated Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and guest judges on Next Food Network Star. He also collaborates with Rachael Ray in the star-studded competition series, Rachael Vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-off, which premiered January 1, 2012 on Food Network.

Fieri attended University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management.


Yigit Pura, Chef/Owner, Tout Sweet Pâtisserie Tastecatering.com

Yigit Pura, Chef/Owner, Tout Sweet Pâtisserie

Yigit Pura began his training in the pastry arts at The Meetinghouse in San Francisco, and gained further experience at such other local meccas as Postrio and Gary Danko. He moved to Manhattan in 2003 and worked at Le Cirque 2000 and the Four Seasons Hotel, both under executive pastry chef Luis Robledo-Richards. Under the tutelage of renowned chef/owner Daniel Boulud, Pura served at both Restaurant Daniel as pastry sous chef, and at Daniel Boulud in Las Vegas as executive pastry chef.

Pura joined Taste Catering & Event Planning as Executive Pastry Chef in Spring 2007, and is currently consulting for them while focusing most of his attention on their new retail pastry venture, Tout Sweet Pâtisserie. Scheduled to open in San Francisco’s Union Square later this spring, Tout Sweet will infuse traditional American flavors and extensive French technique with a young, fresh perspective.

But this is just the beginning. The winner and fan favorite of the first season of BRAVO’s Top Chef Just Desserts aims to expand nationally, as well as into China and Japan. And he’s at work on his first cookbook, Sweet Alchemy for Chronicle Books, due out in 2013.


Charlie Ayers Chef/Owner of Calafia Café & Market A-Go-Go, Culinary Consultant, Cookbook Author

Charlie Ayers, Chef/Owner of Calafia Café & Market A-Go-Go, Culinary Consultant, Cookbook Author

Though he grew up in New England, attended Johnson & Wales culinary school, and cooked at several Providence and Boston area restaurants, Chef Charlie Ayers made his mark in California as the first executive chef for Google. In a scenario familiar to Chopped and Top Chef viewers, Ayers won the job in a 1999 cook-off judged by the company’s then-40 employees. Capitalizing on the bounty of clean, sustainable foods available in California, Chef Ayers took the “feed their brains” directive given by the company and ran with it. He toured the information superhighway with Google for six years and by the time of his departure, he and his staff were serving 4,000 daily lunches and dinners in 10 cafés at the company's headquarters.

Moving on to a much smaller venture, Chef Ayers realized a long-standing dream by opening Calafia Café & Market A-Go-Go in Palo Alto in 2009. A community favorite among vegetarians and organic fanatics, Calafia is the embodiment of Ayers’ belief that everyone should be able to eat delicious, innovative, fast cuisine that is healthful, good for the community, and good for the earth.

Chef Ayers spreads Calafia’s “slow food served fast” message in other ways. As a consultant to high-tech companies eager to replicate the Google model, he creates corporate cafeterias, hires chefs, and develops employee-dining programs. As the author of Food 2.0: Secrets from the Chef that Fed Google (DK Publishing, 2008), he shares the same quick-fix, productivity-boosting meals that have enamored diners at his restaurant, among them the late Steve Jobs. And as a philanthropist, Chef Ayers continues to serve on the board of and support such charities as Rock the Earth and Adolescent Counseling Services.


Ahmed Hassan

Ahmed Hassan, Expert landscape designer, Orchard Supply Hardware 

Landscape designer Ahmed Hassan discovered his love of gardening and the outdoors at the young age of 10. To many children, mowing lawns, trimming shrubs, and stacking wood would be considered mundane chores. For Hassan, these activities brought him closer to what he considers his purpose today: teaching the importance of hard work and how to co-exist with nature.

An accredited landscape designer and gardener, Hassan owns and operates his own landscape design and installation firm in Sacramento. Since 2008, he has hosted DIY Network’s Yard Crashers and collaborated on many landscape and construction projects across the country. Each week, his engaging personality, his love of everything green, and his amazing backyard transformations charm millions of viewers. Hassan has also served as a guest contributor for the CBS Early Show, NBC’s Today Show, and HGTV Magazine. The East Bay native currently resides in Sacramento with his family.


Chip Wade

Chip Wade, Expert Craftsman, Belgard Hardscapes 

Coming from a line of experienced carpenters and woodcraftsmen, Atlanta native Chip Wade has building in his blood. His education in carpentry and renovation began at an early age. With a family project underway at any given time, he developed his skill with hands-on learning. This interest developed into a passion as he became proficient in both the design and execution of large-scale remodels.

Wade graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in mechanical engineering and became certified in residential construction while working as a structural engineer at a homebuilding firm.

He gained fame and recognition as the contractor on HGTV’s Curb Appeal: The Block, and this year launched his own program, Elbow Room, also on HGTV. On it, Wade rescues families whose houses no longer suit them. In each episode, he updates and customizes their homes with smart, eye-popping results.

Wade also shares insights with people across the country through his Chip’s Tips column. Homeowners, contractors, and designers can email their outdoor project questions to ChipsTips@oldcastle.com and a new batch of answers will be posted quarterly on the Belgard Hardscapes’ blog.


Karl Champley, Master Builder, Gladiator GarageWorks

Karl Champley, Master Builder, Gladiator GarageWorks

Master builder Karl Champley is a familiar face on the DIY Network and HGTV, hosting over 200 episodes viewed in over 95 million homes in the United States and throughout the world. For two decades, Karl's mission has been to help homeowners learn to use tools correctly and acquire new, do-it-yourself skills. A recognizable personality from home improvement shows such as Wasted Spaces and DIY to the Rescue, Karl has helped hundreds of homeowners overcome the angst related to do-it-yourself projects. He currently hosts the nationwide HOME Live radio program and authored the home improvement book Same Place, More Space.

Debi Lilly

Debi Lilly, Entertaining & Design Expert for Safeway 

Nationally renowned entertaining & design expert Debi Lilly is partnering with Safeway to provide customers with an exclusive collection of inspired home décor, entertaining, and gifting products. A frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and owner of A Perfect Event in Chicago, Lilly truly believes that everyone should be able to entertain and decorate affordably and with style. You can find her line of beautiful floral arrangements, bouquets, contemporary vases, and elegant scented candles in Safeway’s floral department.

Gina Wicker

Gina Wicker, Design and Creative Director, Sunbrella®, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics 

Gina Wicker is the Design and Creative Director for Sunbrella® fabrics with oversight of fabric design for the casual, residential, contract, and catalog markets. With more than 20 years’ experience in the textile industry, Wicker manages the creative elements related to the Sunbrella brand, including photography, advertising, collateral, website design, and sampling. She earned a B.S. in textiles with a concentration in design from N.C. State University and an M.B.A. from Duke University.

A self-described home décor and garden enthusiast, Wicker is happiest when surrounded by beautiful fabrics and furnishings, abundant plants and flowers, and friends and family. 



David Bazirgan, Executive Chef, Fifth Floor Restaurant, fifthfloorrestaurant.com

David Bazirgan, Executive Chef, Fifth Floor Restaurant 

Culinary star David Bazirgan may have begun as a humble dishwasher back in Newburyport, MA, but he was off to a great start when, at age 20, he enrolled at the Cambridge School of the Culinary Arts in Boston. There, he quickly picked up French technique and caught the attention of Chef Barbara Lynch, winner of Boston Magazine’s “Top 10 Best New Chefs,” who started him at the prestigious Galleria Italiana.

After a stint with Chef Todd English at Olives Restaurant in Charlestown, Bazirgan boomeranged back to Lynch in 1998 for the opening of No. 9 Park in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill. Serving as her chef de cuisine, he meticulously crafted seven- to nine-course seasonal tasting menus and helped her win the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Northeast” in 2003.

Bazirgan then headed west to San Francisco, where he worked first at Elisabeth Daniel and then at the acclaimed Baraka in Potrero Hill. At Baraka, he successfully married his French sensibilities to the restaurant’s Moroccan and Spanish flavors and earned a nod as one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2005 “Rising Star Chefs.”

A stint as Executive Chef at Chez Papa Resto in Mint Plaza gave Bazirgan a chance to show off his flair for la cuisine Provençale, and to earn his second three star–rating from the Chronicle. Now as Executive Chef for Fifth Floor Restaurant, he has finessed New American cuisine with Mediterranean influences, and elevated the restaurant to a coveted 3.5 star review and a spot on the Chronicle’s ‘Top 100 Best Restaurants in the Bay Area’ list. 


Chris Cosentino, Executive Chef, Incanto, Co-creator, Boccalone Salumeria

Chris Cosentino, Executive Chef, Incanto, Co-creator, Boccalone Salumeria 

Growing up in Newport, Rhode Island’s Italian-American community, Chris Cosentino spent his time clamming, commercial fishing, and cranking the pasta machine in his grandmother’s kitchen, developing an early affinity for great ingredients and hard work. He graduated from Johnson & Wales, then went on to such notable restaurants as Red Sage in Washington, D.C., and Rubicon and Chez Panisse in the Bay Area.

He joined Incanto as executive chef in 2002 and his innovative interpretations of rustic Italian fare promptly earned the restaurant its first 3-star San Francisco Chronicle review. Since then, Cosentino has gained national acclaim as a leading proponent of offal cookery. His gutsy approach stems from a belief that no part of an animal slaughtered for food should go to waste. From beef tendon to duck tongue to fish spine, he has demonstrated that the “fifth quarter” offers an untapped array of flavors and textures—and can make for elegant, mouthwatering dishes.

In addition to serving as Incanto’s executive chef, Cosentino is co-creator of Boccalone, an artisanal salumeria. He was a contestan on the first season of the Food Network’s Next Iron Chef America, and can now be seen on the network’s Chefs vs. City show. He has also worked with local company, Cordarounds, to design a pair of “gluttony pants.” In his spare time, Cosentino enjoys mountain biking around Northern California and spending time with his family. 

Tom Douglas, Chef/Cookbook Author/Restaurateur tomdouglas.com

Tom Douglas, Chef/Cookbook Author/Restaurateur 

Almost 30 years ago, Chef Tom Douglas helped put Seattle on the culinary map by cooking global cuisine using regional and seasonal ingredients. It seems he just can’t stop experimenting. He and his wife and business partner, Jackie Cross, now own 10 of the Emerald City’s most exciting restaurants: Dahlia Lounge; Etta’s; Palace Kitchen; Lola; Serious Pie, with two locations; Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie; Cuoco; Ting Momo; and Brave Horse Tavern.

Douglas also runs a retail bakery, Dahlia Bakery; a biscuit sandwich bar, Serious Biscuit; a catering business, Tom Douglas’ Catering and Events; and an event space, Palace Ballroom.

Douglas’ culinary savoir-faire extends far beyond downtown Seattle and the South Lake Union neighborhood, however. He is the author of four cookbooks: Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen (Morrow, 2001); Tom’s Big Dinners (Morrow, 2003); I Love Crab Cakes (Morrow, 2006); and The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, due out this fall. In addition, his specialty food line, including Rub with Love spice rubs, and barbecue and teriyaki sauces, is sold nationwide.

Jamie PurvianceCorporate Chef for Weber Grills, Author of Weber’s Smoke™: A guide to smoke cooking for everyone and any grillweber.com

Jamie Purviance, Corporate Chef for Weber Grills, Author of Weber’s Smoke™: A guide to smoke cooking for everyone and any grill 

Jamie Purviance (pronounced purr-VIE-ance) graduated from Stanford University and the Culinary Institute of America before launching his career as a food writer for major publications such as Sunset, Bon Appétit, Better Homes & Gardens, Fine Cooking, Town & Country, and the Los Angeles Times. He has written several cookbooks for iconic grill maker Weber, including Weber’s Way to Grill™, a James Beard Foundation Award nominee, and his latest book Weber’s Smoke™, dedicated to the art of smoke cooking.

Purviance has appeared on top national television shows including Today, The Early Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, and The Oprah Winfrey Show—as well as on PBS, CNN, the History Channel, and the Food Network. As a regular contributor to national newspapers and magazines, he has helped millions of people grill like professionals. Purviance is also certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and has judged many prestigious grilling competitions, including the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

Purviance lives in Sacramento with his wife and three children. He cooks almost every day on at least one of his six grills.


Jeffrey Anderson, Executive Chef, Safeway Inc., safeway.com

Jeffrey Anderson, Executive Chef, Safeway Inc.

Chef Jeff Anderson is excited to be back at Celebration Weekend for his fourth year in a row. “It’s an absolute pleasure to be at Sunset. They do things right and with a huge degree of ‘Wow!’ It’s great to be around such enthusiasm.”

Growing up as he did in a family of chefs, food retailers, and cooks, it was natural for Anderson to pursue a professional career in cooking by attending the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduation, he focused on the newly emerging American cuisine, working at Campton Place Hotel, The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Postrio, and The Cypress Club. In his role as corporate executive chef for Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., Anderson developed several signature items and opened many new properties. As owner of the widely recognized Black Crow Grill and Taproom and The Rawbar Restaurant and Sushi, in Chico, California, he garnered further accolades. He also took an active role in the food community there, teaching and training students, interns, and novice home cooks.

In his current role as Executive Chef for Safeway, Anderson educates consumers about the company’s Ingredients for Life campaign, as well as how best to use its Private Label items. He is always eager to share his extensive culinary knowledge in order to help consumers create better home-cooked meals and is proud to showcase products at special events, such as this one.


Joy Wilson, Baking Blogger and Cookbook Author

Joy Wilson, Baking Blogger and Cookbook Author  joythebaker.com

Joy Wilson is a self-taught cook who grew up baking with her dad. In 2006, she started a wedding cake and wholesale baking business in Los Angeles. Two years later, she began the Joy the Baker blog, which was named “Best Baking Blog” by Foodbuzz website in 2009. It was further nominated for a “Best Food Blog” Bloggie in 2010 and garnered huge attention as one of the “Top 50 Food Blogs in the World,” according to the London Times.

Wilson has been featured in Daily Candy, Taste of Home, Bust, and Sunset. She is also the co-founder and producer of HomeFries Media, an online platform for food and lifestyle audio and video podcasts.


Margo True, Food Editor, Sunset Magazine

Margo True, Food Editor, Sunset Magazine

Margo True has been the food editor at Sunset since 2006. Before coming to Sunset, she was the executive editor at Saveur magazine, and before that, a senior editor and writer at Gourmet. True has won several honors for her writing, including four James Beard journalism awards, and her pieces have been anthologized in the Best Food Writing series. She edited The Sunset Cookbook (Oxmoor, 2010) and with several colleagues wrote The One-Block Feast (Ten Speed Press, 2011), a backyard-farming book based on the magazine’s James Beard Award-winning blog, oneblockdiet.com. True also edited The Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook, published this April.

Elaine Johnson, Associate Food Editor, Sunset Magazine

Elaine Johnson, Associate Food Editor, Sunset Magazine 

In her 20-plus years on and off at Sunset, Elaine Johnson has covered just about everything—from growing and cooking backyard produce to grilling a great steak and making s’mores under the stars. As a writer, she produced January’s cover story on craving greens, the April cover story on garden chicken salads, and the June story on the healthiest ways to grill. As an editor, she fine-tunes recipes for stories such as Mexico’s Moment (March), and the June backyard-entertaining story, as well as monthly columns including Fast & Fresh, Feel-Good Foods, In Season, and Dinner with Friends. Johnson contributed to The Sunset Cookbook and The One-Block Feast, and is part of the team for Sunset’s Outdoor Cookbook, to be published in 2013.

In between time at Sunset, Johnson has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and recipe developer for magazines and cookbooks, contributing to publications such as British House & Garden, Safeway’s Every Season, Weber’s Charcoal Grilling, and Weber’s Way to Grill. She has also worked in catering and at restaurants, and has taught cooking to children of all ages. At home in Palo Alto she enjoys growing her own food and cooking with her husband and twin teenage boys.

Amy Machnak, Recipe Editor, Sunset Magazine

Amy Machnak, Recipe Editor, Sunset Magazine

Amy Machnak grew up in the suburbs of Detroit in a family of avid hunters and gardeners who instilled the foraging and farm-to-table philosophy in her, long before it was trendy. Drawn to the restaurant business at the age of 12, she worked numerous positions in both the front and back of the house before finishing high school. After graduating from Schoolcraft Culinary College, Amy worked as a pastry chef for almost a decade at some of the best restaurants in the country including Tribute, just outside Detroit; Mako in Beverly Hills; and Boulevard in San Francisco. She left professional kitchens to earn a degree in journalism at San Francisco State University in 2006. She currently works as recipe editor at Sunset, where she develops original recipes, writes food-related stories, and contributed to Sunset’s cookbook. Amy won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2009 for her work on Sunset’s One-Block Diet blog.

Stephanie Dean, Test Kitchen Manager, Sunset Magazine

Stephanie Dean, Test Kitchen Manager, Sunset Magazine 

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Stephanie Dean developed a passion for cooking early on. In high school, she extended this passion into small-time catering for friends and family. Along with her interest in cooking, she also developed an interest in health and wellness and decided to pursue a bachelor’s in nutrition at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. There, she worked at a gourmet olive oil company and managed Cal Poly’s student-run chocolate business. On trips back to San Jose, she catered for Restaurant O in Campbell.

After an internship at Mattson and Company, one of the foremost food product development companies in the country, Dean landed at Sunset. Here, she manages the test kitchen, answers reader questions, and writes recipes. She lives in San Jose and spends her free time cooking, singing, and playing the guitar. Dean has her master’s in nutrition from San Jose State University and is currently teaching food culture and hunger and environmental nutrition classes there.

Kathleen Norris Brenzel, Garden Editor, Sunset Magazine

Kathleen Norris Brenzel, Garden Editor, Sunset Magazine

Kathleen Brenzel is garden editor of Sunset Magazine. Born in Santa Monica, she spent summers in the Pacific Northwest and learned early on to love the differences between the cool forests around Puget Sound and balmy, palm-lined canyons of home. While overseeing the magazine’s garden content, she edited Sunset’s Gardening in the Northwest, California Top 10 Garden Guide, Gardening in the Southwest, and the Western Garden Book of Edibles. Sunset’s Western Landscaping Book, which she pitched, developed, and edited, led to a nationwide franchise.

Along the way, Brenzel appeared regularly on TV gardening programs, including the Grow-It series for HGTV, House Doctor for ABC-7 in San Francisco, and The Victory Garden for public television (for which she served one season as West Coast hostess). She has lectured on gardening topics in Alaska (aboard the cruise ship Crystal Symphony), Hawaii, and at garden shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Boston. In 2000, Brenzel’s passion for Hawaii’s native and endemic plants, which she wrote about in the magazine, earned her an Environmental Journalism Fellowship at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawai, Kaua’i. In 2007, she received The American Horticultural Society's Horticultural Communication Award. This ninth edition of the New Western Garden Book is her fourth as the book's editor.


Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal

Phot credit: Diane Leach

Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal

Novella Carpenter, Urban farmer/Journalist, Ghost Town Farm

Novella Carpenter  is an urban farmer and journalist based in Oakland, California. She is also a truck driver, a biodiesel station owner, and a biologist by training. Her work has appeared on Salon.com, in Mother Jones, Food & Wine, and elsewhere.


Willow Rosenthal, Founder, City Slicker Farms, Garden Teacher, Berkeley Rose School

Willow Rosenthal is the founder of City Slicker Farm in Oakland, California. She serves on the City Slicker Farms Board, teaches adults and children about urban gardening, and consults with various groups to implement urban farming strategies.


Julie Chai, Senior Garden Editor, Sunset Magazine

Julie Chai, Senior Garden Editor, Sunset Magazine 

As Sunset’s senior garden editor, Julie Chai trawls Western gardens seeking out inspiring designs, innovative solutions, and impressive garden makeovers. She writes regularly about small-space gardening, growing your own food, and outdoor decorating. Chai is an avid do-it-yourselfer who enjoys helping new gardeners get off to a great start.

Baylor Chapman

Photo by Lisa Leigh Photography

Baylor Chapman, Founder/Principal Designer, Lila B. Design 

As founder and principal designer for Lila B. Design, Baylor Chapman brings more than ten years of experience and a warm smile to the world of garden and floral design. Before creating Lila B. Design in January 2007, she worked on a team of talented gardeners at an ecologically minded private estate while completing UC Berkeley Extension’s Garden Design Program. Now, when Chapman is not knee-deep in flowers, listening to clients, or translating ideas to designs, you can find her scouring plant nurseries for new varieties to share.

Chapman is perpetually invested in envisioning things in new way, in using relationship and circumstance to showcase the spectacular nature of both the ordinary and extraordinary. Her approach is personal and her eye for combining living things in arresting color combinations is impeccable. Her work has been featured in publications such as Sunset, California Home + Design, and Brides.


Ian Ballentine & Danielle Gellis

Ian Ballentine & Danielle Gellis, Marketing Client Manager and Back-Country Specialist, Sports Basement

Ian is the one in the bow tie and Danielle has the curly brown hair.  They will be doing a joint presentation on the travel stage.

As a marketing client manager at the Sports Basement–Bryant Street location, Ian Ballentine manages the triathlon, swim, and run channels for the company and just loves her job! She swam for San Jose State University and recently transitioned into doing triathlons. She competed in her first Half-Ironman last year and has her sights set on a full Ironman in 2013. When not working at the Basement, Ballentine enjoys volunteering at the SPCA and being outside, challenging herself. She lives life with passion and embraces every single day!

Prior to working at the Sports Basement, Danielle Gellis spent five years as a backpacking guide and outdoor educator for children and adults. Among her favorite trips are a 14-day backpacking trip through the Sierras; a 7-day canoe trip down the Colorado River; and a thorough exploration of the Joshua Tree Wilderness. Gellis is the queen of “glamping” at Sports Basement, a title she attributes to the 3 years she spent camping at the Burning Man festival. She can whip up some delicious backcountry meals and, when not working, enjoys costume parties, reading, and hiking.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Colby EiermanLandscape designer/Consultant/Author

Colby Eierman, Landscape designer/Consultant/Author

Emily Jane FreedRegional Production Manager, Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, Inc.

Emily Jane Freed, Regional Production Manager, Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, Inc. 

Emily Jane Freed is the Assistant Production Manager at Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, Inc., where she manages eight ranches and greenhouses with more than 250 acres of organic culinary herbs and edible flowers. She was the Chair of the 2009 Hazon Food Conference and served on the 2008 Hazon Food Conference’s Executive & Planning Committee. Freed was featured in Fortune’s online article “Look Who’s Farming Now,” as well as in Mother Nature Network’s “40 Farmers Under 40.”

She is a board member of the U. C. Santa Cruz Friends for the Farm & Garden, which is committed to promoting community outreach, education, and organic agricultural practices on California's Central Coast. Freed was raised in Sonoma County, received her B.A. in Journalism and Spanish from the University of Oregon, and currently lives in Santa Cruz’s Upper West Side neighborhood.


Debra Prinzing, Garden writer/lecturer

Photo credit: Mary Grace Long

Debra Prinzing, Garden writer/lecturer 

Debra Prinzing is a Seattle- and Los Angeles-based outdoor living expert who writes and lectures on gardens and home design. She has a background in textiles, journalism, landscape design, and horticulture. A frequent speaker for botanical garden, horticultural society, and flower show audiences, Prinzing is also a regular radio and television guest. Her five books include The 50 Mile Bouquet (St. Lynn's Press, 2012) with photographer David Perry; Garden Writers Association gold-award–winning Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways (Clarkson-Potter/Random House, 2008), and The Abundant Garden (Thomas Nelson Press, 2005).

Prinzing’s feature stories on architecture and design appear regularly in the Home section of the Los Angeles Times. She also contributes to Sunset, Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design, Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Cottages & Bungalows, Metropolitan Home, Landscape Architecture, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Old House Interiors, flower, Romantic Homes, and others. Prinzing co-founded greatgardenspeakers.com and serves as president of the Garden Writers Association.


Johanna Silver

Johanna Silver, Associate Garden Editor, Sunset Magazine 

As associate garden editor and test garden guru at Sunset, Johanna Silver designs and builds small-scale gardens for publication in the magazine. She regularly writes about her adventures in the test garden, including such topics as growing edibles, small backyard projects, and a beginning gardener Q&A. In 2009, Silver won a James Beard Award for her contributions to Sunset’s One-block Diet blog. At home, she can be found digging the dirt out from underneath her nails and enjoying city life in San Francisco.

Tim Balon

Tim Balon, Paint & Design Expert 

After growing up in a household of what he calls “makers,” Tim Balon traveled and studied art history and architecture. He also worked at design and restoration firms in Chicago, experiences that lend his subsequent work a bit of that city's aesthetic. Later, he earned a Master's in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis, but he returned to crafts and interior design in order to make things with his hands. Balon’s interior spaces reflect his preference for patterned wall painting, color, furniture design, and restoration. His work was featured in the January 2012 issue of Sunset Magazine.

Laurie Furber

Laurie Furber, Founder, Greenhouse Design Studio 

It’s Laurie Furber’s job—and passion—to look for ideas, inspiration, and products to make America beautifully green, one house at a time. Laurie’s lifelong love of home décor, great design, and art has translated into a rewarding career in home furnishings. After spending 12 years running the mail-order division for Pottery Barn, she launched her own sustainable brand, Greenhouse Design Studio, in September 2011.

With Greenhouse Design Studio, Laurie worked to create a company that provided beautiful, affordable, and sustainable products for the home. She believes in buying products that are handcrafted in small batches; in giving vintage items new life; in using sustainable materials; and in engaging with socially responsible companies that give back to their communities, all while generating as little waste as possible.

When not working in her home office, Laurie is out sharing good food with good friends, and enjoying her children while they are still young.


Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones, Designer/Fabricator 

With a degree in urban planning and a natural skill for architecture and carpentry, Aaron Jones specializes in design-build solutions and industrial design in the Bay Area. He’s a regular projects contributor to Sunset magazine. Always juggling multiple design jobs for his own home and for clients, Jones finds creative ways to think outside the blueprint and the typical inventory of materials—whether it be for a bathroom remodel or a frame fabrication. Aaron is also acclaimed as the brother to Sunset's style editor, Miranda Jones.

Miranda Jones

Miranda Jones, Style Editor, Sunset Magazine 

Miranda Jones is style editor for Sunset. She grew up in Missoula, Montana, in a home with a Sunset subscription and a fabulous cutting garden. Her parents named her after the destination of their first road trip together (Miranda, California) and instilled in her a love of Western living, from camping to gardening to outdoor dinner parties. Jones is currently trying to cook her way through Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques, and she admits to an obsession with peonies and the Dahlia Dell in Golden Gate Park. She also loves San Francisco’s Alemany Farmers’ Market—and not just because she can walk there from her house.

Will and Cara Meyers

Will and Cara Meyers, Garden designers, DIG Gardens and Hidden Gardens Nursery 

Cara and Will Meyers are the garden designers and horticulturists responsible for this year’s installment of the Sunset Ultimate Backyard Living Room. Together, they own two garden stores in Santa Cruz County: DIG Gardens and Hidden Gardens Nursery. They also do interior and exterior residential garden design and installation.

In their designs, the Meyers love to mix natural and contemporary styles, and they rely mostly on succulents and other drought-tolerant plants. They try to use as many reclaimed and repurposed materials as possible.

The Meyers are passionate about sharing their garden and design knowledge with the community; they offer weekly classes and DIY workshops at their nursery.


Cathy Keyani and Lisa Fulker

Cathy Keyani and Lisa Fulker, Cofounders, Acme Party in a Box

Cathy Keyani and Lisa Fulker met when their kids became friends at school. These kindred spirits quickly discovered that they both loved to throw fabulous parties—everything from big soirées to intimate dinners. Keyani and Fulker believe celebrations are the best thing in life, and they will jump at the chance to throw one. So it was only natural that with their strategy, catering, art education, and design backgrounds, their entertaining passion would soon become ACME Party Box Company.

ACME’s motto, “Party. Rinse. Repeat,” is born out of Keyani and Fulker’s mission to throw a no-trash party. You can forget hauling out a huge wastebin after one of their bashes because all of their party products are designed to be reusable, recyclable, and sustainable. They are made by local artisans and craftspeople who care about what they are producing.

You’ve heard of the Slow Food Movement? Well, ACME Party in a Box invites you to join what they’re calling the Slow Party Movement, where you can experience easy, earth-friendly celebrations you’ll be proud of.



Garrett Finney

Garrett Finney, Founder, Cricket Trailer

As an accomplished residential and commercial architect, professor, lecturer, blacksmith, and industrial designer, Garrett Finney had long been fascinated with small environments, especially ones where the rituals of daily life feel more directly connected to the outside world. And then in 1999, he moved to Houston to work at NASA’s International Space Station. His mission: to revamp their “habitation module” (the place where astronauts eat, sleep, bathe, and relax). It was exciting, but he wanted to design things that would actually get built in his lifetime. He returned to Earth, not sure what would follow.

Life went on. He got married. He had kids. He wanted to share his longstanding love of camping with this family. However, the annual kindergarten campout demonstrated that camping with small children in a tent was not what he (or rather, his wife) had dreamed of. So, he combined his NASA experience with his love of the outdoors and created a lightweight, compact, and flexible environment in which to travel and explore the world.

The result is Cricket.


Thomas J. Story

Thomas J. Story, Staff Photographer, Sunset Magazine 

Thomas J. Story is a staff photographer at Sunset Magazine. He has spent the past decade traveling around the West, documenting all the wonders that make living out here so special. Some of his favorite shoots have meant being in a WWI biplane; boating in the San Juans; and hiking 13 miles through the snow in Yosemite. When he is not travelling on a boat, train, or plane, or haunting one of the many thrift stores he comes across in his travels, he can be found spending time with his ceramicist wife and their two small children in Emeryville, California.

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