At Whole Foods, Amanda Musilli is integrating food into Detroit—one of the country's largest "food deserts." On advice from local activists, she held community meetings, which led to an advisory group of not-for-profit, government, and community organizations to plan outreach and create jobs. "We are really changing the way we do business because of this," she says.
In New York, April Bloomfield has elevated pub grub (the Spotted Pig and the Breslin) and reimagined the oyster bar (John Dory). Last fall, with partner Ken Friedman, she revived a century-old institution in San Francisco, the Tosca Café. Next up: a revamp of the Lusty Lady, a onetime strip club near Tosca; a second cookbook; and, possibly, a return to her U.K. homeland. She won the 2014 regional James Beard Award for Best Chef in New York City.
Anya Fernald is bringing sustainability to vertical integration. From growing the animals' food to processing the meat by hand, her three-year-old operation raises, slaughters, and sells 90,000 pounds of meat from 12 species annually. "I want to help people see meat as a new luxury," she says.
Adam Fleischman's fast-growing experimental Umami Burger chain—launched five years ago with a single outlet in L.A.—has expanded to 22 restaurants in California, New York, and Florida. "I'm able to avoid existing preconceptions," says Fleischman, who previously worked in finance and also has ventures in "global modernist BBQ" and chocolate-tinged fried chicken. "I just do it from an amateur's perspective, and it usually works out really well."
Candy doesn't have to be made in a lab. Jami Curl helps sweet-tooths get their fill with natural, local ingredients with her Portland, Oregon, candy store, which specializes in modern riffs on American classics. "It's pulling-at-your-heartstrings, nostalgia-type food that taps into memories—but better," she says.
Lots of people toast upon finding stardom, but Ida Skivenes has found stardom in toast. By playing with her food, the Norwegian artist has re-created masterpieces—and racked up more than 200,000 Instagram followers in the process. "It resonates with my values: getting people to eat healthy, fresh food in a variety of colors," she says. "I just want [you] to be more playful in your everyday life."
D'Artagnan is America's most influential heritage-meat purveyor. This spring, it debuted Green Circle chickens, which are fed vegetable scraps. "[The food business] messed with nature and went faster and bigger, like the Long Island duck that is ready at five weeks," says Daguin. "It used to be at least nine weeks. People used to take time to raise the animal and have respect for it."