Gary Ibsen and Dagma Lacey
Gary Ibsen was the founder and executive director of the nationally renowned, Carmel TomatoFest®, in Carmel , California from 1991-2008. The annual TomatoFest event celebrated the food & wine from chefs and wineries from around the nation, and featured an expansive tasting display of 300 heirloom tomato varieties from around the world. An advocate of organic farming and seed saving, Gary has been a driving force in the growing popularity of heirloom tomatoes and sustaining the bio-diversity of heirloom tomato seed varieties for more than 33 years.
In the 18 years Gary operated the Carmel TomatoFest®, he and Dagma revitalized the appreciation and desire of heirloom quality tomatoes by chefs, farmers and consumers alike. They ensured the highest quality fresh tomatoes products from harvest to table due to their hands-on production and harvest techniques. For 20 years, their TomatoFest® Farm brand supplied best-tasting varieties of fresh, certified organic heirloom tomatoes to preferred restaurants and produce markets in selected areas of California and the U.S. In 2004 they discontinued providing fresh heirloom tomatoes to the marketplace to focus on their organic tomato seed business, "TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds."
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 national "Maggie" awards for his magazine publishing ventures, Adventures In Dining and Monterey Life magazine. He has extensive experience in food and wine, having managed wine marketing for The Wine Spectrum, a division of The Coca Cola Company, owned an upscale restaurant in Carmel, California and served as a Founding Member of the National Board of Directors of The American Institute of Wine & Food with the late Julia Child, Robert Mondavi and Richard Graff.
Gary's love of cooking led him to study with Marcella Hazan in Italy and many regional cooking styles throughout North America, win a cooking award with actor/director Clint Eastwood, and cook for a national television audience on Good Morning America with Joan Lunden.
Gary is also author of The Great Tomato Book, published by Ten Speed Press, which was nominated by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for best cookbook in the single subject category. The Great Tomato Book provides an astonishing diversity of vine-ripened delights, offering background and cultivation tips for more than 80 tomato varieties along with outstanding recipes.
Gary and Dagma are currently active in supporting numerous urban, school and community gardens world-wide with their TomatoFest Tomato Seed Donations Program in their effort to support bio-diversity, ensure that heirloom tomato varieties will be preserved, and to feed those in need. They remain a source of inspiration through their passion for sharing and practice of feeding people through sustainable organic gardening.