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Gary Ibsen (aka "The Tomato Man")

Gary Ibsen
Gary Ibsen aka ("The Tomato Man")
Few people can turn their passion for enhancing the quality of lives of others through food and wine into a profession as successfully as Gary Ibsen has done.

Gary Ibsen is the founder and executive director of the Carmel TomatoFest located in Carmel, California. An advocate of certified organic, sustainable farming and seed saving, Gary is an industry leader due to his knowledge and innovation in developing and growing heirloom tomato varieties for more than 30 years.

This year, he is growing more than 600 varieties of certified organic heirloom tomato seeds, many of which were originally sourced from family farms around the world. Gary delights in the many stories families share with him concerning how they have passed down beloved heirloom tomato seeds through many generations in order to sustain the tomato variety and keep them in the family.

In the years that Gary has operated the Carmel TomatoFest event, he has revitalized the appreciation and desire of true heirloom quality tomatoes by chefs and consumers alike. He ensures the highest quality product from harvest to table due to his hands-on production and harvest techniques. His TomatoFest Farms brand supplies best-tasting varieties of fresh, certified organic heirloom tomatoes to preferred restaurants and produce markets in selected areas of California and the U.S.

Other successes centered on food and wine have found a way into Gary's life. He has extensive experience in the marketing and publishing arenas, having received numerous "Maggie" awards for his Adventures in Dining magazine, a publication he developed into a quarterly magazine with more than four million readers. He was also the founder and creator of the national award-winning Monterey Life magazine.

Gary Ibsen
Gary Ibsen
He has extensive experience in food and wine, having managed wine marketing for The Wine Spectrum, a division of The Coca Cola Company, and The Seagram Classics Wine Company, served on the National Board of Directors of The American Institute of Wine & Food with Julia Child and Robert Mondavi, and co-founded the Monterey Bay Chapter of A.I.W.F..

His love of cooking led him to study with Marcella Hazan in Italy and many regional cooking styles throughout North America, open a popular Cajun/Creole restaurant in Carmel California, win a cooking award with actor/director Clint Eastwood, and cook for a national television audience on Good Morning America with Joan Lunden.

An advocate of sustainable agriculture, he has given talks about growing tomatoes for the University of California, regional garden clubs and the Culinary Historians of Southern California and has made several presentations on P. Allen Smith's nationally syndicated television show, Gardens.

Gary is also author of The Great Tomato Book which was nominated by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for best cookbook in the single subject category. The Great Tomato Book guides you through this astonishing diversity of vine-ripened delights, offering background and cultivation tips for more than 80 tomato varieties. Outstanding recipes include Fried Green Tomatoes and Arabian Gazpacho. This essential reference book covers everything from the vine to the kitchen. The Great Tomato Book delivers everything a tomato connoisseur could want.