Marisa Peñaloza is a senior producer on the National Desk. From breaking news to documentary-style features, Peñaloza's productions are among the signature pieces heard on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.
Her work has covered a wide array of topics, from hurricanes, education, immigration, politics and the economy to homeland security and litigation. She has also produced investigative reports and traveled across the U.S. and the world for NPR.
Although Peñaloza's permanent assignment is on the National Desk, she occasionally travels overseas on assignment. She traveled to Haiti soon after the 2010 earthquake hit and she's gone back several times to follow the humanitarian organizations working on the island nation. She's covered education in Peru and a dengue outbreak in El Salvador, the Madrid train bombings in Spain as well as the Tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
In 2011, she traveled to Honduras to cover the sock industry as part of a two-part series on globalization and to El Salvador to produce a series of stories on immigration. Her past productions include coverage of the Elian Gonzalez custody battle from Miami, protests outside the Navy site on the Island of Viequez, in Puerto Rico, the aftermath of the crash of the American Airlines flight 587 in New York. She contributed to NPR's 9/11 coverage. Peñaloza was one of the first NPR staff members to arrive on the Virginia Tech campus to cover the shootings in 2007. She was on assignment in Houston waiting for hurricane Ike to make landfall in September 2008, and she continues to produce coverage of New Orleans recovery after Katrina.
An award-winning journalist, Peñaloza was honored with the 2011 National Headliner Award in investigative reporting and the Grand Award for a series of stories looking at the role of confidential informants - people who pose as criminals so they can provide information to federal law enforcement; except sometimes, these informants are criminals themselves.
In 2009, Peñaloza was honored with several awards for contribution to "Dirty Money," an enterprising four-part series of stories that examined law enforcement's pursuit of suspected drug money, which they can confiscate without filing charges against the person carrying it. Local police and sheriffs get to keep a portion of the cash. The awards for "Dirty Money" include the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award in the investigative reporting category; the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Foundation Award; and the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award in the "best website" category.
In 2008, Peñaloza was honored by the Education Writers Association with its "National Award for Education Reporting" for a year-long NPR on-air and online series following a Baltimore-area high school's efforts to improve student achievement. She won the Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for Excellence in Reporting on Drug and Alcohol Problems in 2007, for a five-part series of stories that examined this country's gains and losses since the war on drugs was launched more than thirty years ago, "The Forgotten Drug Wars." She is the recipient of the 2005 unity award for producing Debbie Elliott's Brown vs Board of Education piece, "Before Desegregation: The Education Migration."
In 2003, Peñaloza produced a two-part story entitled "Corruption at the Gates." NPR correspondent John Burnett and Peñaloza discovered that some U.S. border officials are on the take, illegally passing drugs and immigrants into the country in return for bribes. The reports won them a National Headliner Award in the investigative reporting category.
In 2001, "Globalization and the Return of Dengue" won Peñaloza the Pan American Health Organization's Award for Excellence in International Health Reporting. The story was part of a series of stories for NPR and American Radio Works on globalization and disease.
Peñaloza made the leap from television to radio in 1997, when she joined NPR's National Desk. Before coming to NPR she was a staff at the local NBC station and a freelance writer for the Fox affiliate in Washington, DC.
Peñaloza graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, DC, with bachelor's degrees in Broadcast Media and Political Science.
Prerna is a food photographer and blogger. She spent most of her childhood in a few small towns in central India – a time she fondly remembers for Rotis straight off the clay oven and mom’s cooking with produce plucked right from the farms. She went to business school in India to get an MBA and worked in the advertising industry for a few years. Then she met this guy who she now calls her husband, married him and moved to the US five years back. Later came this angel in their lives who has been keeping them on their toes ever since! But when she’s not running behind her then you’ll find her cooking in a tiny kitchen of her small apartment in Charlotte. “Three things made me this awesome cook (sarcasm!) that I am today” she says… “circumstances, no help and hunger!! But whatever I do in the kitchen today is because of the two moms in my life – my mom and my husband’s mom”. She loves traveling, exploring new cuisines and then trying them in her kitchen to later share them with the world. These days she’s having fun writing her blog Indian Simmer, where she is able to combine two of her biggest passions – food and photography.
What was the dish your mom made you when you were sick as a child? “Khichdi” – a simple rice and dal preparation served warm with ghee!
What’s your favorite childhood food memory? Making sweet treats before festivals with the whole family. And by that I mean, all my uncles, aunts, cousins and of course my family in the same kitchen! It was kind of a big celebration before the actual celebration.
What’s your typical breakfast? Breakfast cereal
What can you always find in your fridge? Lemons, Half n Half and a few varieties of cheese. You can do so much with these three basic ingredients. Sometimes I can go for days with just these three things in my fridge!
Favorite flavor? Anything lemon. I love it in savory dishes, in drinks, desserts or just as is!
Milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Oh, hands down Dark Chocolate!
Fried or Baked? Baked
Pancakes or Waffles? Pancakes
Peter is the Chef on Assignment at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. This means he wears a lot of hats there, including teaching, community relations, media appearances, and good will ambassador. He is a regular guest on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins and is the author of 8 award winning cookbooks. Peter is currently working on his ninth book, this one on gluten free baking, as well as a new website, Pizza Quest and at his blog.
What’s your favorite out-of-the-way place to eat in Charlotte? Thai Orchid and Muellers (for hamburgers)
What was the dish your mom made you when you were sick as a child? Chicken soup with “kreplach” (like Jewish ravioli)
What’s your favorite childhood food memory? Learning how to make Caesar salad for the first time – that was my aha culinary moment
What’s the food you hated as a kid but love today? Beets
What can you always find in your fridge? Condiments, lots of condiments – like hot sauces (at least 10 types), pickles, various mustards, and homemade preserves
Kitchen tool you can’t live without? My plastic bowl scraper
Apron? Always, any color-but it has to have strings long enough so I can wrap them around and tie them in front
What restaurant is Charlotte missing? Creative street food carts like they have in Portland and Austin and many other cities – we need them here!
Favorite Charlotte farmers’ market? Matthews, but I love them all
Bagel of choice? The ones I make myself.
Milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Dark chocolate, for sure, though I’ve recently had some pretty good milk chocolate - let’s face it, chocolate is an essential food group no matter what form it comes in.
Deep dish or NY style pizza? There is no such thing as bad pizza – only good and very good.
Pamela Roberts grew up living all over the world. Her favorite places include Tokyo, anywhere in France, Miami or South Florida and Charlotte.
Food anthropology is a topic she would love to explore around the world. “Starting with my own neighborhood, I would love to knock on everyone’s door and ask what they are having for dinner. I am fascinated by what people eat, everyone is so different!”
Pamela teaches Culinary Arts at Central Piedmont Community College and is the host of Channel 17’s “Charlotte Cooks” TV program. “I love doing the show. People are always stopping me to ask questions. If you recognize me, please stop and say hello. I would love to hear what you are cooking.”
Pamela Roberts writes a food blog, Spoon Feast, about food adventures, recipes and good solid cooking advice.
Dubbed “The Condiment Queen” Pamela can whip up a sauce or condiment to go with just about anything. Her fridge is packed with such homemade goodies.
She tackled a challenge last summer to bake all the bread her family needs. She shares extra loaves (there are always some!) with friends and neighbors who in turn share bounty like lettuce, tomatoes and fresh herbs, sometimes a great bottle of wine.
“I wish I had a bigger oven. I love making bread. It amazes me. The dough is so alive!
When I am happy, I cook; when sad, I cook. When contemplating, I cook and when I want to have fun, I cook.”
Food I don’t understand: Pork belly: all I see is fat. Persimmons: you can actually eat that? How?
Favorite food memory: While in college at the University of Miami, we went to Bimini one weekend on Chalks Airlines. Chalks only operated hydro-planes which means they take off and land in the water. One morning the desk clerk at our hotel told us to “follow your nose” to find breakfast. We went out the door of the hotel and sniffed our way to the back door of this wonderful woman who was pulling fresh bread out of the oven, “Cinnamon raisin?” she asked, “Butter too?” and with the exchange of a mere three dollars we had this warm loaf of cinnamon raisin bread slathered with butter which we ate on the beach. It was so good! She was known for making bread for people all over the island and rightly so. This was a long time ago, in the 70’s; Bimini has drastically changed since then.
Most indispensable kitchen tool: Bowl scrapers – They come in handy so many times from cleaning the cutting board, transferring diced items and dividing dough. Great tool. Heavy duty tongs – These are like another pair of hands but heat proof.
What will you always find in your fridge? Milk, butter, half & half and lots of condiments from pickles, chutneys and mustards; mostly home made
Favorite bagel: Everything bagel with lox, cream cheese, raw red onion, capers and lemon. We used to get the best ones at the Bagel Emporium on US 1 in Coral Gables, across from the University of Miami. This was standard Sunday fare while reading the Miami Herald before hitting the beach.