This was the year an increasingly plastic-faced Gordon Ramsay nailed down another season of MasterChef; Anthony Bourdain took aim (again) at the Food Network, this time to bitch-slap Paula Deen; and for a brief moment when Gwyneth Paltrow appeared on the cover of Bon Appétit, it seemed as if new editor Adam Rapoport would turn the magazine into a sort of Us Weekly with Cuisinart ads. Telling as these moments in food were, they weren't exactly cultural touchstones—not like the work of the men and women who make up this year's CHOW 13. Our third annual look at the most influential people in food and drink investigates the things that define us now: social and viral media, kitchen technology, and an overall yearning for authenticity via ingredients either foraged or made.
To create the imagery for this year's CHOW 13, we hired Liz Lomax. The New York–based illustrator has a unique process in which she creates figures out of clay, then houses them in 3-D environments made out of insulation foam. She photographs these dioramas, and voilà!
Ready to meet the people who together make up the face of the zeitgeist? Behold the 2011 CHOW 13. —J.B.FIRST UP: EDDIE HUANG