Latest Posts

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 14th October 2010

Talking Tequila & Thirsty Girls with Tequila Avion’s Ken Austin and Head “Thirsty Girl” Leslie Sbrocco

Please tune in Thursday, October 14th, when I will be joined by entrepreneurs Ken Austin and Leslie Sbrocco to talk about their respective companies, Tequila Avión and Thirsty Girl. First up will be Ken, who’ll talk about his new premium brand, Tequila Avión, which he co-founded with Kenny Dichter. The two also co-founded Marquis Jets, hence the name Avión, which is the Spanish word for plane. Ken, a tequila buff, worked many years for The Seagram Beverage Company and EJ Gallo. Then, we’ll be joined by Leslie Sbrocco, an award-winning author, speaker, wine consultant, television host and founder of the new multi-media company, Thirsty Girl. Leslie’s entertaining approach makes exploring wine, travel, and food fun, and prompted her to start Thirsty Girl, which is geared to women who live life to the fullest.

So grab a glass of your favorite beverage and join the conversation – cheers!

Guest Bios:

Ken Austin

Ken Austin, the founder of Tequila Avión, is a seasoned executive with a broad range of general management skills and entrepreneurial talent. Prior to founding Tequila Avión, Austin was Senior Vice President at The Seagram Beverage Company based in New York City. Reporting to the president, this position had full responsibility for US sales, regional marketing, finance and operations.
Prior to joining Seagram, Austin held various high-level positions of increasing responsibility for the E&J Gallo Winery and Price Waterhouse International Tax Group. Austin is also a founding member of Marquis Jets and oversees business development, marketing, sales support and is a member of the Board.
Austin received his undergraduate degree from The Binghamton University School of Management. He also received an Executive MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and currently sits on several company boards.

Leslie Sbrocco:

Leslie Sbrocco’s first book, Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine has been excerpted by Redbook and Family Circle and won the Georges Duboeuf Best Wine Book of the Year award. Her second book, The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide was released to wide acclaim and she is currently at work on her third book, Adventures of a Thirsty Girl. As Tasting Notes columnist for, and contributor to numerous online and print publications, Sbrocco’s monthly musings are enjoyed by thousands. Whether appearing on television as the wine expert for the cooking show Seasonings, CBS television’s Evening Magazine, or as a regular contributor to NBC’s Today Show, Sbrocco’s humor and passion resonates with viewers. Leslie’s current television project is as host of the PBS series Check Please! for which she has won both the coveted James Beard award and three Emmy awards.

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 4th October 2010

A conversation with Chef, Author & TV Host – Chef Ming Tsai

Please join me on Thursday, October 7th as I chat with prolific chef, restaurateur, television host, author, designer and developer – Chef Ming Tsai. We’ll be talking about so many things – what’s happening on the eighth season of his PBS series “Simply Ming”; his participation in the new “Next Iron Chef” competition on Food Network; his latest cookbook “Simply Ming One-Pot Meals”; his award winning restaurant Blue Ginger; his role as a national spokesperson for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network; food & wine pairings and so much else! Grab a glass of wine or a cocktail and join us!

Guest bio:
Ming was raised in Dayton, Ohio, cooking alongside his mother and father at their family-owned restaurant, Mandarin Kitchen. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale, and spent his junior summer at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. Upon graduating, Ming worked in kitchens around the globe, then enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University, earning a Master’s degree in Hotel Administration and Hospitality Marketing. In 1998, he opened Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA and immediately impressed diners with the restaurant’s innovative East-West cuisine. The James Beard Foundation crowned Ming “2002 Best Chef Northeast”. Ming is the host and executive producer of the public television cooking show, SIMPLY MING, currently in its eighth season. He began cooking for television audiences on Food Network, where he was the 1998 Emmy Award-Winning host of East Meets West with Ming Tsai.

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 28th September 2010

Spicy Cocktails and Award Winning Wines With Kara Newman and Amelia Ceja 9.30.10

We’ll be talking spirits & cocktails with two dynamic ladies this week. First, we’ll be joined by Author Kara Newman, who will join us to discuss her latest book, “Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails” as well as her spirits reviews for Wine Enthusiast Magazine. We’ll make a few cocktails from her book to sample, and discuss what she sees are some of the spirit & cocktail trends on the horizon. Then, we’ll turn our attention to the wines of Ceja Vineyards. We’ll be joined by Amelia Ceja, President of Ceja Vineyards, who’ll be here to talk about her family owned & operated business, their wines, and their newest venture “Bistro Sabor”. You won’t want to miss this show – grab a glass and tune in!
Here’s the link to this episode:

Guest Bios:

Kara Newman:

Kara Newman is the author of “Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails,” (Chronicle Books). She is the spirits columnist for Chile Pepper Magazine and spirits reviewer for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and an active member of the New York cocktail and mixology scene. Her writing also has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Imbibe, The San Francisco Chronicle, Gourmet, and Saveur, among others. Follow Kara on Twitter (@karanewman) or check out the Spice & Ice blog.

Amelia Ceja:

Amelia Ceja is the President of Ceja Vineyards, and the first Mexican-American woman to be president of a wine production company in the history of New World wines. Born in Las Flores, Jalisco, an agricultural village in Mexico, her family moved to the Napa Valley in the ’60s when Amelia was 12-years-old. Her father was a mechanic at a local vineyard management company and her mother was a farm worker at the same company. During the summer and Christmas breaks, Amelia worked there as well. She met Pedro Ceja working during harvest, and they soon married. With his brother and winemaker Armando, they bought land in Carneros and planted grapes in the ’80s, and started making wine in 1998. Today, Ceja makes 10,000 cases per year of award winning wines. Amelia is also a noted cook, and the video series “Salud Napa Valley” highlights the family’s bi-cultural blend

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 22nd September 2010

Fabulous Pairings with Marian Jansen op de Haar & Russell Skall of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is one of the ultimate steakhouse destinations for lovers of fine wine, and Director of Wine Marian Jansen op de Haar is responsible for the management of Fleming’s award-winning wine list and overall wine program. Setting Fleming’s apart is Jansen op de Haar’s wine-by-the-glass program, known as the Fleming’s 100, that is renowned for its depth and innovation. Under her direction, Fleming’s is recognized by Wine Spectator magazine’s annual Awards of Excellence and Wine Enthusiast’s Awards of Distinction. Pairing Fleming’s flavorful cuisine with the restaurant’s 100 wines by the glass and reserve wine lists, Corporate Executive Chef Russell Skall works closely with Jansen op de Haar to ensure an outstanding selection of complementary choices. We will chat with Marian & Russell about how they develop their food & wine programs, how they educate their staff & guests, industry trends and what’s new at Fleming’s. Grab a glass of wine and join us!

Guest Bios:

Marian Jansen op de Haar:

Marian Jansen op de Haar began her food and wine career in 1978, upon her immigration to the United States from the Netherlands. She first began working in gourmet shops where she developed an expertise in both cheeses and wines. As her knowledge of fine wines evolved, she worked for several wine wholesalers and as a sommelier for two renowned restaurants in Phoenix, and as a manager for Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Scottsdale. The 1998 debut of Fleming’s in Newport Beach, California, gave her the opportunity to serve as the wine consultant. It was then that she developed the company’s distinctive wine program. In her present position as National Director of Wine, Jansen op de Haar continues to manage the wine program and direct an extensive internal educational program for all associates, managers and partners. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology, and is a frequent “wine expert” contributor to articles in a variety of publications, and a guest on tv & radio programs.

Russell Skall:

As Corporate Executive Chef of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Russell Skall oversees menu development, supervision of the kitchen staff and the purchase of food products for the restaurants. Skall was rewarded for his passion for food with the Warren LeRuth Commitment to Quality Award, given annually by OSI Restaurant Partners, Inc. to the person who best exemplifies its quest for excellence. Before joining Fleming’s, Skall worked in many of the nation’s most renowned restaurants, most recently as the executive chef at Arizona-based Sullivan’s steakhouses. He also served as banquet chef at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dana Point, California, chef at the Princess Resort in Phoenix and chef at the Phoenix and Scottsdale locations of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Skall studied fine cuisine at the Fox Valley Technical Institute, but his roots can be traced to his family’s 250-seat dining establishment in Appleton, Wisconsin, Skall’s Colonial Wonderbar.

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 13th September 2010

“Daring Pairings” with Celebrated Author and Educator, Evan Goldstein, MS – Thursday, September 16, 2010

If you find yourself wallowing in a wine rut, reaching for the same old chardonnay or cabernet night after night, it’s time to wake up and smell the tempranillo! There is a big wine world out there, and our guest Evan Goldstein, MS will help us learn about some more exciting wine & food pairings. We’ll chat with Evan about some of the recipes & wine pairings in his new book, “Daring Pairings, A Master Sommelier Matches Distinctive Wines with Recipes from His Favorite Chefs”. The goal of the book is to turn food & wine pairing from a lengthy, agonizing process to easily picking a wine that will work, and then enjoying the pairing. We’ll also talk about his critically acclaimed book, “Perfect Pairings : A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food”, his company, Full Circle Wine Solutions, his impressive background in the wine industry as well as his travels around the globe, educating wine consumers and industry members. You won’t want to miss this “daring” show!

Guest Bio:

Evan Goldstein, MS, President and Chief Education Officer of Full Circle Wine Solutions, is one of the nation’s most prolific food and wine industry veterans. His food and wine career started at age 19 in Paris and Napa Valley. In 1984 he joined his mother, Chef and Author Joyce Goldstein, in opening the celebrated Square One Restaurant in San Francisco. In 1987 he became the eighth American and youngest ever at the time to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier examination. Since 1990, he has created education programs, wine training and service hospitality schools with Seagram Chateau & Estates Wines Company, Diageo, Allied Domecq & Beam Wine Estates and continues to train & examine candidates for the Court of Master Sommeliers. Evan is a regular editorial contributor to Santé magazine, a contributing editor for Wine & Dine and Indulgence magazines & a guest wine expert on NBC’s syndicated television show “In Wine Country.”

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 7th September 2010

Cocktails, Wine, Food and Festivals with Scott Goldman and Lee Schrager – Thursday, September 9, 2010

[gallery]We’re covering all the bases this week, talking cocktails, food, wine and festivals! First up, we’ll be joined by Scott Goldman, President of Cadre Noir, an importer of artisanal French liqueurs and spirits to talk about Combier Liquer d’Orange. Created in 1834, Combier is the original orange liqueur commonly known as triple sec. We’ll discuss Combier’s origins, its history and how it came to the US. We’ll also talk about cocktail ideas and their innovative bartender program called Shaker Faces. After that, we’ll be joined by Lee Schrager, the Vice President of Corporate Communications and National Events at Southern Wine and Spirits. We’ll talk to Lee, who founded the South Beach Wine & Food Festival about his upcoming Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook as well as the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, which is happening Columbus Day Weekend and benefits Share Our Strength. Hope you can join us…cheers!

Guest Bios:

Scott Goldman:

Cadre Noir is an importer of artisanal French liqueurs, crèmes and spirits. Led by 3 brothers, Ryan, Curt and Scott Goldman, the company’s roots date back to 2002, when after a successful collegiate hockey career that included two NCAA national championships at Middlebury College, youngest brother Scott left the Green Mountains of Vermont with a hockey bag, a stick, a one-way plane ticket to Paris and a dream to play professional hockey in France. Two months and three training camps later, his dream became reality when he signed a one-year contract in the historic city of Tours in the heart of the garden of France – the Loire Valley. Not long after his arrival, Goldman was entranced by the spectacular farms, vineyards and distilleries that make the Loire Valley world famous and almost instantly settled on one property on the banks of the Loire that stood out from the rest – La Maison de Combier.

Lee Schrager:

Lee Brian Schrager serves as the Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, overseeing projects in 30 states. Most noteworthy in Schrager’s resume is his creation of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival® from a one-day event known as the Florida Extravaganza, into a national star-studded, three-day weekend destination event, attracting the who’s who of the wine, spirits and culinary world. Schrager is working on his Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook, due to be released November 16, 2010. In 2008 he launched the inaugural Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival which benefits both the Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength®. Last year, the event hosted over 30,000 guests. Prior to joining Southern Wine & Spirits, he spent 17 years with InterContinental Hotels. He has studied at the Culinary Institute of America & at the School of Hospitality Management at Florida International University.

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 30th August 2010

It’s Cocktail Time with Olympian & Food Network Host Brian Boitano & Cabana Cachaca’s Matti Anttila – September 2, 2010

We are honored to welcome Brian Boitano, Olympic Gold Medalist and host of Food Network’s “What Would Brian Boitano Make?” to our show this week. Few athletes have enjoyed the artistic & popular success that Brian has achieved since winning the Gold Medal for the US at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. We will be chatting with him about his legendary career, his hit show on Food Network, which will also be shown on the Cooking Channel, and his passion for cooking and entertaining. We will also make a few of his favorite cocktail & hors d’oeuvres recipes to taste on the air. Then, we will turn our attention to one of the hottest spirits to hit the market in recent years, Cachaça. We’ll be joined by Matti Anttila, Founder & President of the ultra-premium Cabana Cachaça, who’ll talk to us about the brand, some of the great cocktails made with it including the Caipirinha and his plans for the upcoming Brazilian Independence Day. You don’t want to miss this episode! Cheers!

Guest Bios:

Brian Boitano

Brian began his figure skating career in 1972 at the age of eight after viewing a performance of “Ice Follies.” At 14 he became the U.S. Junior Men’s Champion and gained world recognition when he was 19 as the first skater to complete all six different triple jumps in a World Championship. In total, Brian, a three-time Olympian, has won more than 50 titles, including the Olympic Gold Medal. Brian has been inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, and the National Italian-American Hall of Fame. In 1998, Brian founded Youth Skate, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to introduce San Francisco’s inner-city youth to the sport of ice skating. More than 6000 children aged 5-15 have participated. With a lifelong passion for food & cooking, Brian premiered the Food Network series, “What Would Brian Boitano Make?” in August 2009, where he takes viewers on a reality cooking adventure, creating amazing food for a new event in each episode.

Matti Anttila

Matti Anttila, a spirits entrepreneur from Montecito, CA, launched the super-premium double distilled Cabana Cachaça, in 2006. He graduated from Amherst College in 2001 and shortly thereafter, began working as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in New York. While at J.P. Morgan, Matti was given the opportunity to travel to Brazil for work, where he was introduced to Cachaça, Brazil’s national spirit. In March 2005, Matti was inspired by the country and the Cachaça category and masterminded the concept for Cabana. A year later Matti switched careers and launched Cabana in the United States. Matti learned the skills needed to start his own company by growing up around two very prominent family businesses; his mother’s family created the American Brewing Company in St. Louis, Missouri, which was bought by Anheuser Busch, while his father’s family is in the timber industry in Finland. Matti and his wife, Jennifer currently reside in Manhattan.

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 23rd August 2010

Cocktails with “The Modern Mixologist”, Tony Abou-Ganim – Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tony Abou-Ganim, the legendary “Modern Mixologist,” is a global leader in the craft cocktail renaissance. Over the past 20 years he has worked with food and hospitality
icons including Mario Batali, Steve Wynn, and Harry Denton, and also appeared on Iron Chef America. In his new book “The Modern Mixologist”, he’s compiled a guide to home mixology, featuring his 60 best drink recipes—both signature creations and his unique variations on the classics. We’ll talk to Tony about his career, his cocktails and the basics of mixology. We’ll also try a few of his signature cocktails live on the air, discuss how to pair them with different foods, as well as what he thinks are some of the best new trends and ideas on the cocktail scene today. Whether you’re a mixology aficionado or merely curious about the mixed-drink phenomenon, you don’t want to miss this conversation with “The Modern Mixologist”!

Tony Abou-Ganim grew up in the bar business, learning the craft from his cousin Helen David at the Brass Rail Bar in Port Huron, Michigan. After graduating from college, Tony learned an appreciation for a well made cocktail using only the freshest ingredients at Jack Slick’s Balboa Café and Harry Denton’s in San Francisco, at Po with Mario Batali in NYC, and then back in San Francisco at “Harry Denton’s Starlight Room”, atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. He was later hand-picked by Steve Wynn to create the cocktail program at the Bellagio Resort. Today, Tony operates his own beverage consulting firm in Las Vegas, specializing in bar staff training, product education and cocktail development. As the National Ambassador of the US Bartenders Guild, and Associate Member of the Museum of the American Cocktail, Tony continues to educate about the history and lore of cocktails as well as lead the bar industry into continually improving the art of the cocktail.

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 16th August 2010

Talking about BarSmarts with the Legendary “King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff & Pernod Ricard’s Suzanne Freedman – Thursday, August 19, 2010

[gallery]“BarSmarts” is the most innovative and direct-to-the-bartender spirits, mixology and service training certification program available. Designed exclusively for Pernod Ricard USA and instructed by the celebrated partners of Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) – Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour & David Wondrich – BarSmarts is the only program of its caliber to provide a comprehensive mixology education. There are 2 levels of BarSmarts Education – BarSmarts Advanced is offered by invitation only in a few select cities each year; BarSmarts Wired is an online certification program open to bartenders twice a year. We will talk to Dale and Suzanne about the “BarSmarts” program in detail, including the differences between the courses, how it started and how to get onboard. We will also talk to Dale about his legendary career, his best-selling books, The Museum of the American Cocktail, Tales of the Cocktail and much more…cheers!

Guest Bios:

Dale DeGroff, aka King Cocktail, is a master mixologist who developed his techniques tending bar at many establishments, most notably New York’s Rainbow Room where he pioneered a gourmet approach to recreating the great classic cocktails. He is the founder & president of The Museum of the American Cocktail, the first museum in the world dedicated to education in mixology and preserving the rich history of the American cocktail. Dale is the author of “The Craft of The Cocktail”, winner of the IACP Julia Child Award, and “The Essential Cocktail”, winner of the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail “Best New Cocktail Book”. Also the winner of the 2009 James Beard Wine & Spirits Professional Award, Dale appears regularly in the press and media, writes a monthly column for Beverage Media, and blogs for several websites. Recent industry awards include the Mentor Award at Tales of the Cocktail & 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from Nightclub & Bar Magazine.

Suzanne Freedman started her career in spirits marketing in 1993 at William Grant & Sons, Ltd., as Marketing Manager, spearheading the advertising and public relations efforts for their brands, including Glenfiddich, Frangelico and Dry Sack Sherry. She was instrumental in the formulation, packaging and launch of The Balvenie in the USA. She then joined the marketing division of Southern Wines Spirits of America, managing all aspects of marketing for the company’s import brands, and in 2001, moved back to New York to become a Brand Manager at Pernod Ricard USA in White Plains, New York. At Pernod Ricard, Suzanne managed the Jameson and Bushmills Irish Whiskey brands, and then was promoted to Brand Director on Beefeater London Gin. Suzanne was selected to be Director, On Premise, where she has developed many new strategic programs for the company. One of her major contributions is the development of the BarSmarts program, which has been called the “industry standard” in bartender education.

Posted by Catherine Schiff on 9th August 2010

Thursday, August 12th – Bill Samuels, Jr., President & Ambassador-at-Large of Maker’s Mark

Our guest this week is Bill Samuels, Jr., the seventh generation of the Samuels family to make whiskey. The legend of Maker’s Mark dates back to 1784 when Robert Samuels, a Scottish-Irish immigrant, arrived in Kentucky and started making whisky. In 1953, Bill Samuels Sr. (Robert’s great, great, great grandson) decided to make a more distinguished style of bourbon. With a flair of dramatic departure, he set fire to the 170-year-old family recipe, paving the way for the creation of Maker’s Mark bourbon. He reinvented the bourbon recipe to include winter wheat (instead of the harsher rye) while baking bread in his own oven. Today, Bill Samuels Jr. continues the family’s hand-made bourbon tradition, and remains true to his father’s innovation of fine bourbon whisky and vision of Maker’s. Bill and I will talk about the history and making of Maker’s Mark, their iconic advertising campaign & Ambassador program, Makers 46 – the first new product in the brand’s history – and much more. Cheers!

Guest Bio:

Bill Samuels Jr., President of Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, is the 7th generation in a long line of bourbon makers. Samuels took over the family business from his father, Bill Samuels Sr., the man who invented the Maker’s Mark recipe & the premium bourbon category. It’s only natural that Bill Jr. wound up taking over the family business – as a child, he played Lincoln Logs with an aged Col. Jim Beam. Bill had big ideas about playing basketball, becoming a rocket scientist & lawyer. So, he did all three -college at Case Western Reserve, where he studied rocket science; UC Berkeley where he helped design the fuel injector nozzle for Polaris IIA, & Vanderbilt University to study law. Upon finishing law school, he returned to Kentucky to work “temporarily” for his father – 13 years later he was still there. In 1980 The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article about Maker’s Mark, which rapidly became known for its irreverent ads, written by Bill Jr., and smooth taste.