Since 2009, we’ve worked with dozens of experts who share their passion and bring their perspective and create new experiences.
Music tells a story, but Savor events bring that story to life with related sensory experiences and expertise that weave it all together. People want to know that there’s purpose behind the pairings, and they want to hear it introduced and explained by the best minds in the business!
Winemakers tie in tales of their terroir and family secrets to bring a new level of understanding. Chefs share their inspiration and wow crowds with their culinary creations. Choreographers and authors and entrepreneurs are able to express their vision.
We hope to work with you on creative combinations of insightful expertise and musical performance that make a point.
Chef Ryan Smith
International food adventurer/wine specialist
Ryan spent seven years as the Executive Chef and Head Wine Educator of New York Vintners, one of New York’s most popular food and wine destinations. Ryan is currently pursuing his leva 4 Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and has taught hundreds of wine classes. He has an amazing ability to break the complicated world of wine down in a laid back and fun way. Ryan regularly collaborates with some of the world’s best winemakers as well as artists, actors, and musicians to create what he calls “alternative dining experiences.” Ryan just returned from16 months in London, using it as a staging ground to travel Europe, stoke his creative flames and now he is back in New York continuing what he loves doing most – creating epic experiences around food and wine.
“I think it’s important for chefs to look beyond just the food. With everything I do, I’m not only trying to create amazing food but a total experience. Your guests don’t get to keep the food you create — the only thing they get to take with them is the memory of the evening. The food is just the starting point.” Chef Ryan Smith
Master of Wine
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan is fast rising as one of media’s best featured “go to” experts on wine. She holds the world’s top wine title (MW), has trained thousands in the industry and judges in international wine and spirits competitions.
Jennifer is the fourth woman and among only 30 people in the US to ever attain the international title of Master of Wine (MW), the highest wine title to achieve in the world. She was also honored with an international tasting trophy for her palate and holds an additional 5 leading wine and spirits certifications.
She is the author of “The One Minute Wine Master: Discover 10 Wines You’ll Like in 60 Seconds or Less.” She has also co-authored a culinary textbook featured at the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu titled “Pairing with the Masters: A Definitive Guide to Food & Wine.”
Jennifer is also the author and host of five DVD series on wine and spirits with The Great Courses- “The Everyday Guide to Wine,” “The Everyday Guide to Spirits & Cocktails,” “The Everyday Guide to Wines of France,” “The Everyday Guide to Wines of Italy,” and “The Everyday Guide to Wines of California.”
She is a frequent guest on national television including NBC’s Today Show, Fox Business, Fox News, Anderson Cooper, Bloomberg TV, Real Housewives of New York City, and VH1 Morning Buzz. She has also been featured in world-class publications such as Fortune, Businessweek, O The Oprah Magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and Wine Enthusiast. Jennifer is also a columnist with Great Wine News.
With an energetic, dynamic personality, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan has also hosted seminars with famous Food Network Stars such as Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, Mario Batali and Jacques Pépin.
Owner, Gaja Winery
As the daughter of renowned winemaker Angelo Gaja, Gaia represents the fifth generation to own and manage the Gaja winery in the small Italian town of Barbaresco. Affectionally hailed as the ‘Queen of Barbaresco,’ she is a guardian of her family’s illustrious legacy, which dates back to 1859 and has fostered an internationally acclaimed reputation as a leading producer of fine Italian wines. Gaia is considered to be among the most influential women in the wine industry.
Wine and spirits columnist
Brian Freedman is a food, wine, spirits, and travel writer, restaurant and beverage consultant, drinks educator, and event host and speaker. He is Editor-at-Large of Drink Me Magazine online, a contributing writer for John Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet and Philadelphia Style Magazine, and restaurant critic and beverage columnist for Philadelphia Weekly, Suburban Life Magazine, and Philadelphia Life Magazine. In addition, Brian has contributed to Fodors.com and Sommelier India, the largest wine magazine in India, and writes the blog The Food, Drink & Travel Report, at fooddrinkandtravelreport.com. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, he was recognized by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s Keystone Awards for his ongoing food and drink coverage for Philadelphia Weekly.
Previously, he worked as wine columnist for Affluent Magazine and The Good Life Report; drinks columnist on CityEats.com, the restaurant site by the Food Network; director of education at the Wine School of Philadelphia; food and wine editor and restaurant critic for LifeStyle Magazine; restaurant critic for AroundPhilly.com, AroundAC.com, and The Evening Bulletin; editorial director for ClassicWines.com; and host of Classic Wines TV, a popular online wine show. Brian also hosted the Philadelphia episode of “Hungry In…Philadelphia” on the Hungry Channel online. For several years, he wrote the UncorkLife blog for Wine Chateau, one of the largest online wine retailers in the United States. He regularly hosts wine dinners and tastings at corporate offices, restaurants, clubs, and private residences, and co-hosted a series of wine tastings at The Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia in 2011. In 2013, he ran a seminar for the hotel’s banquet staff on wine trends and sales. Brian also has worked with Wine Chateau to run their wine tastings at the GBK gift lounge in Los Angeles for invitees to the Emmy Awards, the Golden Globes, and the George Lopez Celebrity Golf Classic. He also spoke about Italian wines in both 2013 and 2014 at the National Italian American Foundation’s gala weekend in Washington, DC.
Brian’s writing has been published internationally, nationally, and locally, and he has appeared on television on Fox 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia,” Comcast’s “Your Morning on CN8,” ABC7’s “View From The Bay” in San Francisco, NBC4’s “Weekend Today in New York,” CBS2’s “The Couch” in New York, and the nationally syndicated “Better Show.” He also discussed Albariño live on-air for Spanish television in Galicia. He has emceed the Chefs Panel at the National Association for Catering and Events conference, worked as host and moderator for the culinary demonstrations at the Catersource and Event Solutions Conference and Tradeshow in Las Vegas, lectured on wine, beer, and spirits at the International Association of Conference Centres conventions in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Miami, and Texas, was a speaker at the Society of Wine Educators conference in Orlando, and has discussed wines live on-air on “Cooking Today” on Martha Stewart Living Radio, SiriusXM, and on “Food Talk with Mike Colameco” on Heritage Radio Network.
Brian has been interviewed for articles in a number of publications, including The Washington Post, Worth Magazine, USAirways Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Grape Magazine, Time Magazine online, and syndicated Associated Press pieces, among others domestically, as well as publications in Israel and Uruguay that have coincided with his visits to those countries to taste their wines and food. He has worked as a consulting sommelier for various restaurant projects and wine dinners, and has consulted on the wine lists for three meals at New York’s prestigious James Beard House. He also has had relationships with private collectors as a personal wine consultant, and consulted on the wine list at, among others, Top Chef Season Seven winner Kevin Sbraga’s flagship Philadelphia restaurant Sbraga, the Stockton Inn, Talula’s Daily, and Talula’s Garden, which was named one of the 10 best new restaurants in America 2011 by Bon Appetit Magazine and one of “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2012, 2013, and 2014. He is currently consulting for Urban Farmer, which will open in the Logan Hotel in Philadelphia by the end of 2015. In addition, Brian has conducted wine-cellar assessments for clients looking to both purchase and sell their collections, and for an insurance adjuster in order to assess potentially damaged bottles. He has consulted for Stephen STARR Events and STARR Restaurant Catering Group for wine and other beverages, has hosted several wine dinners at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, and hosts wine dinners around the country for the officers and high-level clients of PNC Wealth Management. Brian also has hosted several wine-education dinners for Reed Smith LLP, focused on teaching their summer associates how to feel more comfortable with a restaurant’s wine list during dinners with clients and colleagues.
Brian has traveled to 23 countries around the world and extensively throughout the United States to experience the food, drink, and culture for his work. He hosts occasional beverage and food classes at COOK Philadelphia (some based on his international and domestic travels), hosts annual travel and wine seminars at the Lodge at Woodloch, eats hundreds of restaurant meals a year, serves as Membership Chair of the Wine Media Guild of New York, and in 2012 completed his term as the Philadelphia Ambassador for Port and Champagne for the Center for Wine Origins. (He also hosted two seminars for Champagne Bureau USA in 2014 and 2015 in Philadelphia.) Brian was named the first American Ambassador for the Albariño Explorers Club from Rías Baixas, Spain, for 2013, and was rehired again for 2015.
Sommelier, co-founder of Wheeling Foward
Yannick is head sommelier at the University Club, and co-founder of Wheeling Forward. In 2003, a car accident left Yannick paralyzed but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams of going to college and becoming a world class sommelier. As a para-athlete, Yannick has competed in several marathons and races including the New York, Boston, and Chicago marathons. Yannick is currently a Master Sommelier candidate with the Court of Master Sommeliers and has worked at Le Du’s Wines for over ten years. His deep connections in the wine world have helped Wheeling Forward to build a broad base of supporters and inspired many sommeliers and wine distributors to give back to the community. He was featured as one of the Top 40 under 40 Tastemakers in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and has recently starred in Esquire Network’s TV show Uncorked.
Chef Flynn McGarry
Executive Chef/Founder, Eureka
At the age of ten, Flynn McGarry wanted to cook. He began practicing his knife skills after school, and soon after started creating dishes, simple at first, for a few of his mother’s friends. At eleven, came the purchase of Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry cookbook, then Grant Achatz’s Alinea. The influence was immediate. Flynn’s dishes became more complicated, sous vide cooking was adopted and tweezers were now a must for plating. By twelve, the number of courses and guests had doubled at what was now called EUREKA (after the street where he lived), a supper club operating out of his mother’s home in Studio City. At thirteen, Flynn began apprenticing at Ray’s and Stark Bar at LACMA under Chef Kris Morningstar, then later went on to stage at Eleven Madison Park under Chef Daniel Humm as well as at Alinea, Next, and Modernist Cuisine in Seattle. At the same time, Flynn and his small EUREKA staff, made up of family and professionals, were serving twenty guests a tasting menu of fourteen courses out of Flynn’s kitchen/bedroom. Flynn then became the subject of a New Yorker Talk of the Town piece, “Prodigy.” Chef John Sedlar graciously invited Flynn to serve his expanding mailing list at his restaurant for a night serving 120 guests. At fourteen, Flynn’s supper club EUREKA relocated to pop up monthly at BierBeisl in Beverly Hills with the support of chef/owner Bernhard Mairinger. Flynn worked for a year at Alma under Chef Ari Taymor in Los Angeles and continued to pop up EUREKA in L.A, S.F and N.Y. In 2014, Flynn was the cover story of the Food and Drink Issue of The New York Times Magazine, became the youngest honoree on Zagat’s 30 under 30 Los Angeles list and was named one of the top 25 most influential teens from Time Magazine. His culinary experiences and the support from inspirational chefs all over the world (thanks to the internet) have enriched Flynn’s talent and ambition. After finishing high school, Flynn traveled to Europe to stage at Maemo in Oslo and Geranium in Copenhagen. He then moved to New York City and put on two successful Eureka multi month pops up. Flynn is now currently working on opening a permanent space.
James and Mark Blanchard
Winemakers, Blanchard Family Wines
Blanchard Family Wines is more than a tale of two brothers, Mark and James Blanchard, with a desire to start a business together. It is the story of how wine can bring people together, shatter barriers, and can ignite passions that make dreams come true. Blanchard Family Wines is a company formed to express two brother’s vision of the uniting qualities of great wine shared between friends and family. Blanchard Family Wines is dedicated to the creation of limited production, hand crafted, artisan wines, sourced from the top vineyards in the Sonoma Valley. We know that great wine is born in the vineyard so we choose growers that have the same focus and passion that we do for quality. We attempt to showcase the world class appellations of Russian River, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley and most of our wines are either 100% varietal or single-vineyard products.
Donelan Family Wines
Cushing Donelan brings diverse experience in brand development and entertainment production to his role at Donelan Family Wines. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Cushing saw the opportunity to enhance the brand’s evolution and create new partnerships and was eager to dig his hands into the family business.
Truly a man of many interests, Cushing studied art history and studio art in college, including sculpture and metalwork. Following a backpacking trip to explore art and architecture throughout Europe, however, his growing interest in arts and entertainment led him to California to pursue a career in production. Through a series of internships, Cushing assumed an executive assistant role for actor Matthew McConaughey and McConaughey’s company, j.k. livin productions.
In this role, Cushing assisted in the launch of j.k. livin’s clothing line, music label, and charitable foundation, in addition to the development of the company’s television and film projects. Gaining valuable experience in business management, branding, and production, Cushing went on to create the production company oneinarow, developing scripted and non-scripted television series – a company he remains involved with while working at Donelan Family Wines.
Cushing graduated from Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., with a degree in Fine Arts. He now resides in Venice Beach, Calif., with his wife and daughter and enjoys being active in the community, playing hockey and lacrosse, and connecting with friends over a bottle of wine.
President, American Sommelier
One of the foremost wine educators in the country, Andrew F. Bell is a Co-Founder and President of American Sommelier. Since entering the industry in 1987, he has forged a distinguished career as a wine educator and businessman. Over the past 24 years, Bell has experienced all sectors of the wine industry and developed a profound understanding of the educational needs of both the consumer and service sides of the industry.
Wine has always had a presence in Bell’s life and growing up. While Bell’s family had Chianti in the traditional fiasco bottle for dinner every night, it was not until his sister offered him a trip to the Napa Valley winery V. Sattui that he developed a real passion for wine. From that experience, Bell knew that he wanted to forge a career in the wine business.
Bell has been involved with many facets of the food and beverage industry. He began his career in San Francisco in 1987 and worked alongside famed hotelier and restaurateur Bill Kimpton at Splendido’s. As part of his experience there, Bell trained with Michael Bonaccorsi, forever impacting his outlook on wine. Bonaccorsi’s engaging and accessible teaching style combined with his extensive knowledge inspired Bell to pursue his discovery of the drink and move to France. While in France, Bell introduced a boutique wine shop Paris’ 6th Arrondissement; worked harvest in Arbois for renowned winemaker Frederic Lornet; and served as number two sommelier at Michelin three-star restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris. Upon returning to his native New York in 1996, Bell embarked on a journey to share his knowledge, passion and rapport with wine with all aficionados. Bell launched Wine Symphony, a wine consulting and import company in New York City, which he continues to oversee.
With a team of like-minded peers, Bell founded American Sommelier in 1998. Together they developed courses designed for wine enthusiasts, aficionados and industry professionals with the unique goal of sharing knowledge and enthusiasm for wine. Bell designed the American Sommelier Blind Tasting class in 2005 and continues to oversee the organization and create the curriculum for each class. In addition, Bell teaches classes for each of the association’s courses and has led the production of the Best Sommelier in America competition since 2002. He is currently crafting a comprehensive sales, service and buying class series.
Bell is a graduate of City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University; he studied cognitive psychology. Bell is married, has three children and lives in New York City. In his downtime, he enjoys photography and playing golf.
Chef Alex Seidel
James Beard Award Winning Chef/Owner, Fruition, Mercantile
Chef/Owner Alex Seidel’s fame found its principle fire through his four-star Fruition Restaurant, which is listed as one of the Top Ten Restaurants in the U.S. by gayot.com and 25 Best Restaurants by 5280 and Number One Restaurant in Colorado by Zagat. Food & Wine named Seidel Best New Chef, and Denver Magazine and 5280 both called him Chef of the Year. He has even been a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southwest. Alex’s focus on local food shines in Fruition Farms Dairy, Colorado’s first artisan sheep’s milk creamery. The farm is home to a heritage breed pork and fruits and vegetables that supply his restaurants’ kitchens. With Mercantile dining & provision, Alex further solidifies the continuity and sustainable relationships between restaurant, farm and market.
Winemaker, Bodega de Edgar
When Edgar Torres’ parents arrived in the Central Coast town of Cambria in 1987, they became immediately aware of the possibilities the wine industry offered and the prospects that lay ahead for their family. Edgar came along a few years later and embraced his family’s passion for work and love for the wine industry. Edgar Torres worked several jobs in the food industry and through the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort & Restaurant in San Simeon eventually made the acquaintance of a number of winemakers and winery owners. He managed to get his first job as a cellar rat and eventually worked just about every winery job imaginable. In 2005 he dropped out of school to follow his passion into the wine industry on a full time basis. He continued his on the-job education until he believed he knew enough about the business to try it on his own. Encouraged by his friends and having maintained a real fervor for the grape, Torres and his wife founded the Bodega de Edgar in 2007.Bodega de Edgar started small—under 250 cases of its initial release. It has grown substantially and will produce around 2,800 cases this year. A sister label, Hug Cellars, will produce another seven hundred cases.Today, Edgar Torres works full time in the winery business. His winery is located on Turley Court in Paso Robles and is accompanied by a tasting room on Adelaida Road in the same town.For the record, bodega is a Spanish term for a wine cellar and Edgar Torres is profoundly dedicated to his Spanish heritage as well as the pursuit of great Spanish wines. “I have always loved Spanish wines,” remarked Edgar Torres, “and I strive to make the best possible wines. We have long term contracts for our fruit and I love the fact that these grapes have distinctive characteristics.
Chef Dana Rodriguez
Executive Chef, Work and Class, Super Mega Bien
Executive Chef Dana Rodriguez began her formal cooking career at Panzano, an upscale Italian restaurant in the Hotel Monaco in Denver. Under the wing of award-winning chef Jennifer Jasinski (Panzano, Bistro Vend’me, Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen), Dana became Sous Chef at Panzano. She continued working with Jasinski for many years, going on to become a Sous Chef at Rioja and Chef de Cuisine at Bistro Vend’me. In late 2012, Dana’s path crossed with longtime friends Tony Maciag and Delores Tronco, and Work & Class was born. In her role as Owner/Executive Chef, Dana is excited about cooking food that reminds her of home’s food that is close to her heart.
International Food and Wine Explorer, Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur and International Food and Wine Explorer Philippe Lajaunie grew up in Bordeaux, France, where food and wine are the main subject of conversation, most culture, and most entertainment. He moved to New York in 1981, when the food scene was burgeoning in the City, and opened restaurants inspired by the Parisian Brasseries he so loved. He has opened 20 restaurants in the US and Tokyo. One of these was Brasserie Les Halles. His executive chef was Anthony Bourdain. When Philippe took Tony to Tokyo to his new restaurant there, Tony wrote a beautiful piece that was published in Kitchen Confidential. This started Tony’s new career, and he became the much-loved writer and host of many TV shows. Philippe has appeared numerous times with Tony on Parts Unknown, No Reservations, and A Cook’s Tour. Philippe is the founder of American Summits – natural spring water from Wyoming.
Owner of Buglioni Vineyards
Mariano Buglioni is the owner of Buglioni winery, one of the youngest wineries in the Valpolicella Classico area. The Buglioni family has been making wine since 1993, when they purchased an old farmhouse surrounded by vineyards and olive groves in Corrubbio di San Pietro in Cariano.
Today, the Buglionis are a wine success story. They’ve increased their vineyard holdings to nearly 120 acres in Valpolicella Classico, have begun farming organically and are building a new winery. Though about half the production is sold in bulk to “famous wineries,” Buglioni now bottles nearly 21,000 cases a year under its own label, sold in Europe, the United States and Asia. More than 5,000 cases of that are drained at three areas outposts of Osteria del Bugiardo and its more upscale sister restaurant, Locanda del Bugiardo, in the vineyard area of San Pietro in Cariano.
Buglioni makes a line of nine wines—including an IGT white from Garganega and rosé and white sparklers—plus a grappa. But reds are the stars: In the 2007 to 2011 vintages, Buglioni released six wines scoring 90-plus points in Wine Spectator tastings: three Amarones, two sweet Reciotos, and a Ripasso.
Export Director, Champagne Gossett
Bertrand Verduzier, export director of Champagne Gossett. He’s originally from France, between Loire valley and Cognac region, and worked in Champagne for 16 years. He’s a veteran in the wine and spirit industry, and loves all things related – wine, food and music – he’s also a guitar player for 25 years.
Wine Expert / Consultant / Owner of The Wine Store Naples
Bruce Nichols Bruce has spent more than three decades in various facets of the wine industry. His epiphany wine, a Chateauneuf du Pape while working a summer restaurant job in college in New Jersey, was the catalyst for a lifelong pursuit of what Bruce describes as “chasing the grape”. Relocating to Northern California after college, he immersed himself in the then blossoming Napa and Sonoma wine scene. As Director of Restaurants for Sheraton Hotels, based in San Francisco, he developed long-standing relationships with Winemakers, Vintners and industry icons. Prior to a “failed retirement” to Naples in 2004, Bruce spent the last half of his career managing global food services for a major financial company. Today, Bruce’s wine consulting company, Naples Wine Solutions, caters to private collectors, restaurants, and distribution networks. He has consulted to the Naples Winter Wine Festival for the past 11 years where he is also an Honorary Trustee. His eponymous “A Nichols Worth of Wine” website blog and social media networks cover grape-to-glass issues and trends, offering commentary on the commerce, politics, culture and the history of wine and its inextricable link to food, travel and the arts. Bruce’s newest project, “The Wine Store” located just a block away, is slated for an October opening where wine education experiences for consumers will be the focal point.
Co-founder, Cellar to Table
Born in 1975 in Nice, France, I grew-up most of my life in Lyon, the food and wine capital of France. 300 miles South of Paris, Lyon is perfectly nested between two major wine regions: the Rhone Valley to the South and Beaujolais/Burgundy to the North. I have been luckily exposed to both regions but spent much more of my time in Burgundy where my family is from on both sides and where we had a family country house where we used to go on week- ends and during scholar vacations.
Also, on my family’s mother side there is a fairly large but rather split-up vineyard ownership in one of the famous Burgundy appellation, called Meursault. Therefore, I have been exposed at a very early age to awesome food and amazing wines from Burgundy and from the Rhone. Both of my grand-parents and my parents taught me the pleasures of the table, to appreciate the richness of the local French cuisine and give me that instinct to pair local food with local wines. Wine pairing is now part of what I enjoy the most even though I remain humble and cautious because pairing is one of the most difficult task and knowhow for wine connoisseurs.
I had a pretty classic scholarship back home and graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Marketing and Sales from ESDES, a local business School based in Lyon. After finishing my mandatory military service in the French army, I was eager to travel the world and decided to look for a job in the US. In 2000, I moved to Philadelphia to work in sales for a medium size gourmet food import company. While living in Philadelphia I met my future wife, Tanya and after several back and forth between the US and France we finally decided after 9/11 to get married and we moved together in New York City.
After a short experience in sales for a seafood distributor based in New York City, I got hired in 2004 to represent Paramount Brands, a fairly large wine and spirits distributor covering NY and NJ. In 2007, the company went out of business and I got hired based on my skills and experience by one of the finest wine distributor at the time, Lauber Imports, which just got recently purchased by the largest wine and spirits distributor in the country, Southern Wine and Spirits. The final merging between the Lauber families owned operating business and the corporate giant Southern happened at the end of 2008 and this is when I realized that I was not made to work for big corporations.
I decided in April 2010, in the middle of the recession to quit and join the decedents and veterans of Lauber Imports who just formed a new fresh and dynamic start-up called Verity Wine Partners. The aim of this company was to offer an amazing selection of wines as well as paramount customer service and transparent way of doing business. I have been now happily working for almost three years for Verity and I can say I largely contribute to the success ofthis company; I am currently part of their best salespersons and really enjoy working for an amazing team of people.
National Brand Ambassador, The Macallan
Born in Scotland and raised in Speyside, Molly Melville’s love for whisky was inevitable. Alongside her years studying history, being employed as a tour guide at various distilleries was vital to growing her passion for whisky and where she discovered her love for the drinks industry. Her favorite memories are introducing people from all around the world to Speyside and guiding them on a journey of the many nuances and characteristics of single malt Scotch Whisky. Molly has been a part of the Edrington family for a year and is immensely proud to represent The Macallan as the National Brand Ambassador in NYC and looks forward to being able to share a dram with you all one day. Sláinte!
Chef Sebastian Mazzotta
Executive Chef, Founder
Culinary sensation Sebastian Mazzotta has been gracing theGulf Coast with his exquisite fusion cuisine and original creations for over ten years. Born and raised in Connecticut from a family with a long-standing tradition in the restaurant industry, Sebastian realized his life’s passion early on, making his first loaf of bread at the age of seven. After relocating to Florida, Sebastian attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.Sebastian’s private dining experience includes catering ultra exclusive events for corporate businesses such as Cartier and Saks Fifth Avenue. In addition, he has opened and worked as Executive Chef for some of Naples’ most notable restaurants – Chops City Grill, Aqua Grill, and Naples Tomato. Sebastian’s expertise, impeccable attention to detail, and passion for a worldly range of fare – American, Mediterranean, Italian, French, Asian and International – sets his cuisine apart from the rest.Today, as Executive Chef and owner of Private Chef Sebastian Mazzotta, LLC, Sebastian offers a wide-array of private dining services specifically individualized to meet all of your needs and your budget.
Co-founder, Courtier Wines
Paul was twenty-one and on a trip to the Napa Valley when he had his first taste of fine wine. Graduating from the University of Virginia later that year, he worked the harvest at a local winery and began his education on grape growing and winemaking.Curious about the wines of the world, he moved to San Francisco to study in the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Diploma program while pursuing an interest in cooking. Exploring fine dining restaurants and participating in various groups, his palate developed through extensive tasting and learning.A career in sales began with a strong knowledge of fine wines and a well developed network of enthusiasts and professionals. As a sales associate, he developed a specialized knowledge of Burgundy and Italian wines, and began to build an impressive collection of his own while advising clients on their cellar plans and inventory management.Paul continued to expand his capabilities while working one-on-one with discerning collectors around the world – sourcing and exporting from the European markets, directly from producers and negociants . As a buyer, he secured allocations of the most sought-after current releases, as well as acquiring significant collections of old and rare wines with impeccable provenance.
Amy Dixon been in the wine business for 16 years-including retail, import and restaurant. In recent years, Dixon lost 97% of her eyesight to a rare eye disease, and she now travels with her wonderful Guide Dog Elvis from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Her passion for wine started while working in the restaurant business during university. She traveled each year to Germany and France, where she developed her palate and a love of Riesling and Burgundy. Dixon became WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) certified, and began public speaking and teaching seminars throughout the region. Several years later, and dozens of trips abroad, she became the Fine Wine Buyer at Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk, CT. Recently, Dixon achieved the CWS (Certified Specialist of Wine) Certification through the Society of Wine Educators.
Brand Ambassador, Krug Champagne
Nicole brings nine years of experience as Sommelier/ Beverage Director at leading NY restaurants including Eleven Madison Park, The Nomad, Acme Restaurant, and Momofuku Ssäm Bar (a 3-star New York Times restaurant and 2018 Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence” winner). She was profiled in the women-in- wine documentary, Somm State of Mind.
• Advanced Sommelier & Rudd Scholar (CMS)
• Ruinart Challenge Winner (2014)
• Wine & Spirits Magazine’s “Best New Sommelier” (2016)
Food & Beverage Manager & Sommelier, Master Naturalist
Ron was born and raised in New Orleans, where he learned saxophone and music theory at a young age. His focus was marine biology until Katrina hit. He got into hospitality when he returned from displacement. From then he got a job at a fine dining restaurant which sparked in interest in food and wine. He shortly switched majors and progressed at the top of his class at the university of New Orleans school of hospitality, where he earned a culinary degree and became president of the student Louisiana restaurant association. After working in many kitchens. His sister got him a job at small boutique wine store. This is where his passion for wine grew. After college he worked at the greenbrier and honed in skills for detail and service. After that endeavor he transitioned into private clubs which helped fund his certification as sommelier through the court of masters sommeliers. He found spring island and fell in love with the culture of f&b, nature and the great outdoors. He is now a master naturalist, certified croquet pro and fishing instructor as well as a kayak guide.
Nissley Vineyards and Winery
Situated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where garden-fresh fruits are a culinary tradition, Nissley Vineyards is a family-owned winery that has been producing has been producing varietal and proprietary wine for nearly forty years. They are dedicated to making quality wines, which have won numerous awards over the past ten years in state and international competitions. The pioneering spirit of the Nissley family is carried on by grandson Jonas Nissley, whose energy and passion is ushering in a new chapter of success for the winery.
Chef David Wooding
David Wooding has gained a reputation for elevating “normal” cuisine, recreating it to be as exciting as it is accessible. Previously as Executive Chef at Maxwell’s, Chef de Cuisine at the Lobar, and Executive Chef at the Secret Stash and The Red Room, David is a daring chef. He thrives on spontaneity driven by freshness, his imagination excelling as his dishes take on additional French, Italian, and Nouveau American airs. Formally, Chef David attended the Johnson County School where he studied Culinary Arts. He additionally served with Chef Michael Turner of the Classic Cup and Linda Dewar of JJ’s, both in Kansas City.
Chef Tim Kuklinski
Tim Kuklinski received his formal culinary training from Denver’s Johnson & Wales University before joining Chef Jorel Pierce to become the backbone of Denver’s award-winning Rioja kitchen. Tim has augmented his style from working alongside Rioja Chef/Owner Jennifer Jasinski and Work + Class Chef/Owner Dana Rodriguez with a personal pursuit of new ingredients and innovative techniques to incorporate into the Mediterranean influenced Rioja menu. Tim has also cooked at Denver’s Euclid Hall as well as staged at Michelin-starred Grace and Graham Elliott in Chicago.
Wine Director, Madison Wine Exchange
Joe Dolce is a 30 year veteran to the hospitality industry. Through his career he has worked as an oyster shucker, sommelier, cook, manager, server, bartender and dishwasher. Joe is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and has developed innovative beverage programs and restaurants around the country. He is the author of Dolcé Drinks blog and lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland running The Imperial Hotel & Front Room restaurant in Chestertown. Joe conducts over 40 tasting seminars on Wine & Spirits every year. “Wine and crafted beverages are an important part of my life, one I like to share. It is a passion and at times an obsession that I try not to take too seriously. It is supposed to be fun!”
Senior Manager at Veuve Cliquot at Möet Hennessey
After seven years in management consulting, Rebecca began her wine career at Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy in the Estates & Wines division. She then spent two years at Banfi Vintners, the renowned Italian producer and importer. Currently, she serves as Head of Operations & Education at Duclot La Vinicole, a Bordeaux importing and distribution company with U.S. operations in SoHo and L.A. Rebecca earned an Advanced with Merit certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. She graduated from Duke University and received an MBA from Columbia University.
Co-founder and CEO at Cult Wines
As CEO, Tom Gearing oversees the company’s overall strategy, global operations and technology innovation, which has distinguished Cult Wines from its competitors as an industry leader. Tom has grown Cult Wines from a burgeoning start-up to an award-winning global company with over £265 million assets under management and more than 100 employees in six offices across the United Kingdom, North America, and Asia Pacific. Under his direction, the company has been named to the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 in 2015 and again in 2017, the SME Export Track 100 in 2016 and 2017 and the International Track 200 in 2018 and 2019.
Tom cultivated a passion for fine wine in his formative years, learning first-hand from his father who led numerous wine companies throughout his childhood. Tom spent a significant amount of time travelling with his father to the Cote d’Or, visiting vineyards and studying Bordeaux from the ground up, where he developed a keen interest in business and a bold vision for the future of fine wine. Tom’s expertise, entrepreneurship and innovative mind have been widely regarded and he is regularly quoted in the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade and the Spear’s 500. Tom holds a WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and graduated from Nottingham University with a BA in History.
Favourite Wine: Whilst Tom’s wine preferences often see him focussed on chardonnay and pinot noir, he likes to try as many different styles and grape varieties as possible. His most memorable vinous experiences to date are Petrus ’61 en Magnum, Liger Belair La Romanee ’09 and Domaine Leroy, Richebourg ’03.
Director of Winery Hospitality, Burgess Cellars
Raised in Westchester, Elizabeth founded and ran a successful personal training business, Elizabeth Miller Fit, LLC. As a foodie and wine appreciator, she stressed with her clients the balance between indulgence and food appreciation, and health and fitness. This approach and growing curiosity for food and wine inspired her to moonlight at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in 2009. Their training and staff education sprinkled the seeds for interest in the wine industry, and she soon began studies with the American Sommelier Association. Elizabeth moved on to manage at a local French restaurant and found the most enjoyable part of service was wine recommendations and the conversations with guests that followed. With a growing and voracious interest in wine, she embraced an opportunity in wine retail. As Manager of Vintology Wine & Spirits, and Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, she continually enjoys varied experiences of the wine industry.
Tuhina De O’Connor is an experienced and passionate oenophile with experience in sales, relationship building, event planning and wine retail. Tuhina previously worked at two leading wine retailers in Manhattan: Eli Zabar’s W.I.N.E & Spirits Shop and Pet Wines & Spirits. She recently earned “with distinction” the Level III Advanced Certification at the International Wine Center and is working towards her Master of Wine Diploma certificate.