Talking Tequila & Thirsty Girls with Tequila Avion’s Ken Austin and Head “Thirsty Girl” Leslie Sbrocco
So grab a glass of your favorite beverage and join the conversation – cheers!
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’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 Epicurious.com, 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.
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.
Here’s the link to this episode:
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 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
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!
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.
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.
“Daring Pairings” with Celebrated Author and Educator, Evan Goldstein, MS – Thursday, September 16, 2010
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.”
Cocktails, Wine, Food and Festivals with Scott Goldman and Lee Schrager – Thursday, September 9, 2010
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 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.
It’s Cocktail Time with Olympian & Food Network Host Brian Boitano & Cabana Cachaca’s Matti Anttila – September 2, 2010
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, 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.
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.
Talking about BarSmarts with the Legendary “King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff & Pernod Ricard’s Suzanne Freedman – Thursday, August 19, 2010
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.
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.