Meet the Man Behind the Heirlooms
Tomato man Craig LeHoullier picks his eight favorite vine-ripe varieties
What the blues are to B.B. King, tomatoes are to Craig LeHoullier: a mission, a passion, and the expression of a natural-born talent. In the thirty years he’s been growing, selling, cataloging, and naming tomatoes, the Raleigh, North Carolina–based farmer has established himself as the seed-to-sauce expert on the subject. And he’s not shy about spreading the tomato gospel. In addition to acting as the Southern Seed Savers’ official tomato adviser and spearheading an ongoing 150-person global cultivation effort, LeHoullier regularly organizes public tastings, including the annual Tomatopalooza. Last weekend, the North Carolina event celebrated its 10th anniversary with three hours of sanctioned gorging on more than 175 vine-fresh varieties. “It’s the perfect venue to share flavors with growers and customers—the equivalent of a tomato-lover’s wine tasting,” LeHoullier says.
For those who couldn’t make it to this year’s Tomatopalooza, we asked LeHoullier to share his favorite heirloom varieties, ranging from Cherokee Purple to Dester Amish. The tomato man has spoken.
>Click to see LeHoullier’s eight favorite heirloom tomatoes