Food, Wine, Spirits & Special Guest Experts at Bern's Winefest

Meet the team that makes Bern's Winefest so spectacular!

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With a quiet, friendly demeanor, David Laxer, son of Bern’s Steak House’s founders, Bern and Gert Laxer, is now guiding this venerable legend and its other three siblings – Haven, Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits and B&G Little Midway to success. The four businesses continue to adhere to, and use Bern Laxer’s original philosophy, “We Do Things Differently” as a guiding principle that David Laxer believes delineates the business from competitors. 
This philosophy has kept guests returning again and again and the recognition flowing. Bern’s continues to be celebrated for excellence in food and wine and Haven follows closely winning prestigious honors including a 2012 James Beard semi-finalist nod and recognition annually from DiRona, Wine Spectator Magazine (Bern’s has been awarded the Grand Award since 1981 and Haven, an Award of Excellence since 2002) and Florida Trend Magazine’s, “Golden Spoon Award.” In 2002, Bern’s was inducted into Florida Trend’s newly created Hall of Fame for its dining excellence. One of the greatest honors for the Bern's team was the nod from the James Beard Foundation in 2016 with the award for Outstanding Wine Program.
“As my father did, I believe the customer must always come back. We consider every night a big event for the restaurants and we strive to go above and beyond our guests’ needs and wishes. Our goal is to continue to elevate the dining experience with consistency being rule number one,” says Laxer. Laxer continues to purchase the famous prime beef that is dry-aged at Bern’s; he also approves any and all wine purchases and investments for the three businesses. 
Laxer graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Furman University, and later interned at the prestigious New York Restaurant School; an experience that he believes helped him prepare to guide and create Bern’s and its subsidiaries, and our next generation in The Epicurean. 
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[category] => Leadership [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 318 [youtube_video_id] => ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 12816 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-08 09:14:38 [newsDate] => 2020-02-08 09:14:38 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |030507700201581014891.png [display_order] => 2 [title] => Executive Chef, Haven [meta_title] => Chad Johnson - Executive Chef - Haven [name] => Chad Johnson [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Chad Johnson|Haven|Executive Chef, Haven|||||||||||||Johnson began his career in the modern Mediterranean kitchen of Layla under Chef Frank Proto. At Layla, Johnson was introduced to and influenced by the fresh ingredients and cooking styles of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. After a stint at Layla, Johnson worked in the popular kitchen of Montrachet where, as he assisted the pastry chefs and plated amuses nightly, he learned, from Chef Chris Gesualdi, how a high volume, fine dining kitchen could be organized for maximum efficiency. While at Savoy, under Chef Peter Hoffman, Johnson was exposed to premium products in their natural state. This was the essence and focus of Hoffman's cuisine; great ingredients prepared simply, allowing their natural flavors to shine.

Growing up in Paducah, Kentucky, Johnson decided to pursue a culinary career after spending time at his best friend's family's restaurant. He attended the French Culinary Institute in New York where he was determined to learn all he could from the famed staff which included modern culinary luminaries like Jacques Pepin, Andre Soltner and Alain Sailhac. He paid for his own tuition, came in early and stayed late - always pressing his instructors for more information. From these legends, Johnson learned the techniques and traditions that have made French chefs leaders in dining for hundreds of years.

His natural passion for great food combined with his French Culinary Institute education and exposure to some of the country's best restaurants have all influenced Johnson's signature modern cuisine at Haven. |
|I want to take the great iconic dishes, the ones you've loved your entire life , and elevate them. I want it to be the best you've ever had. [category] => Culinary [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 315 [youtube_video_id] => ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 12880 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-06 13:48:53 [newsDate] => 2020-02-06 13:48:53 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |079799500201581014933.png [display_order] => 3 [title] => Chef de Cuisine, Bern's Steak House [meta_title] => Habteab Hamde - Bern's Steak House - Chef de Cuisine [name] => Habteab Hamde [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Habteab Hamde|Bern's Steak House|Chef de Cuisine, Bern's Steak House|||||||||||||
Affectionately called "Hab" by everyone at Bern's, Habteab emigrated from the small African country of Eritrea in 1983. Since he enjoyed preparing meals for his family when he was young and everyone predicted he would one day be a chef, he attended the Swedish Culinary Institute in Sudan, Africa.
When he settled in the United States, he left his culinary career behind and began attending USF to pursue a degree in accounting, but soon, the childhood predictions came true and he decided to return to the kitchen.
Hab enjoys cooking because it is so similar to chemistry – especially creating new things with his favorite ingredients, garlic, tomato and onion. He says, "It is truly exciting to take different ingredients, textures and flavors and create something completely new and different and at Bern's we have so many opportunities to utilize some of the best products in the world."
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Brooke Palmer is the creative mastermind behind the PR and Event efforts at all of the Bern’s Steak House properties.  With the exquisite taste she inherited from her mother, and an entrepreneurial spirit instilled by her father, she has dabbled in event planning and business since she was a toddler.  Creating tea parties for friends at five, and discovering a knack for event design at her and her twin sister's birthday pool parties, all while managing a profitable lemonade stand, her hidden talent was noticed early on by her inner circle.

A self-proclaimed 'closet nerd', with a spunky identical twin, Ms. Palmer graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Molecular Biology , completed studies at the University of South Florida with a Master's in Environmental Science, all before pursuing her MBA.   An accomplished student, golfer, lacrosse player and drummer, beneath those blonde locks, she has a sharp mind, and it is a known fact that she can run in high heels. 

Born and raised in Washington, DC, this happy-go-lucky femme fatale has committed the last twelve years pursuing philanthropic endeavors with all sorts of charitable organizations including The Arts Center (now The Chihuly Collection), the 13 Ugly Men, the Tampa Theatre, and the Florida Aquarium. She is also a former member of the Board of Directors for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.   Brooke additionally shares her talents  in print and on Television, as the scene columnist for Tampa Bay Metro Magazine after stints with TBT* and Bay News 9, and occasionally as party planning expert on ABC Action News and on Daytime, Tampa's NBC Affiliate's syndicated morning show, in over 100 markets. 
With the Bern’s organization since 2009, Brooke is in charge of all Public Relations, Marketing, community Relations efforts for Bern’s, Haven  (formerly SideBern's)  Bern’s Fine Wines, Élevage, EDGE, and Chocolate Pi. She provides support for the Epicurean Hotel in Public Relations efforts as well.  In addition, she has headed up Bern’s Winefest for the last five years, expanding the event and creating a sell-out experience while enhancing sponsorships and overall guest enjoyment.
Brooke was named 30 under 30 by the TBBJ in 2005, and was a finalist for the Tampa Bay Business Journal's 2009 and 2010 Young Businesswoman of the Year. In 2010, she was named an Up and Comer by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.  She was a finalist for National Rising Star 2010 and a finalist in 2011 for Event Planner of the Year by Event Solutions Magazine. Concurrently she was also nominated for Event Planner of the Year 2011 by Biz Bash Florida.  She also is a four-time winner of Best of the Knot, Florida.  Most notably however, was her win as the 2008 Suncoast Woman of the Year by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society raising $60,000 in a ten week fundraising campaign, setting the chapter record for a female.  Her additional interests include her dogs, traveling, good books, golfing, Orangetheory Fitness and pilates.  She remains active through her volunteer work, golf lessons, lacrosse, the occasional good bottle of champagne, teaching herself French, and being 'crafty'-- all while trying to save the world from its perils… or its event mishaps.  Brooke is newly married to Craig Kuhl,  and is obsessed with her Pit Bulls Lily, and Sacrlett, and her Husky Maya.
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[category] => Sommeliers [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 316 [youtube_video_id] => ) [5] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 12884 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-06 13:50:34 [newsDate] => 2020-02-06 13:50:34 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |072189000201581015013.png [display_order] => 6 [title] => Director of Spirits, Bern's Brands [meta_title] => Nate Wilson - Director of Spirits [name] => Nate Wilson [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Nate Wilson|Bern's & Haven| Director of Spirits, Bern's Brands|||||||||||||Nathaniel E. Wilson II, Nate, who is originally from the D.C. area developed a passion for culinary as a young child from spending time with his father in he kitchen.  Because of this passion, Nate has enjoyed over 25 years in the hospitality industry and has held positions involving almost every facet in fine dining.  Since joining Bern’s in 2006, Nate has managed the Harry Waugh Dessert Room and has assisted in overseeing the ever, expanding spirits program here at Bern’s.  Nate is forever looking to expand his knowledge of spirits and dessert wines and what better way to do it than at Bern’s. |
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Brad Dixon, a native of Dixon, Illinois, joined the Bern’s team in 2003. Dixon manages an exceptional team of wine stewards along with two other sommeliers. Brad and his colleagues successfully oversee one of the largest wine collections in the world with 6,500 different selections and more than 500,000 bottles in inventory. His daily operations include managing inventory, cataloging, computerizing, and updating the wine list. Brad also takes the time to consult with Bern’s guests as they survey the 182-page wine list and offers suggestions and pairing choices. 

In order to provide the best service to clientele, Brad continues his education of fine wine with frequent trips to many of the world’s fine wine producing regions. He has frequented regions in France including, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Alsace, Loire, Champagne, and Cognac. As well as, Hunter Valley, Barossa, Rutherglen, McLaren Vale in Austrailia, Mendoza and Salta in Argentina, and including Australia, Europe and Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Wala Wala, Columbia Valley America on the West Coast of the United States. He, along with the wine team, have been featured in numerous publications and television features. Brad represented Bern’s on Star Watch with Sam Hallenbeck and has appeared in two Travel Channel episodes. 

Brad maintains his passion and respect for vintage wines and continuously studies many of wineries that produce them. He also teaches wine classes at Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits, holds seminars during Bern’s Winefest, and is always available to educate others on the art of fine wine.
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Raised in the world-renowned wine-growing region of the Red Mountain AVA in Washington State, Gregory was exposed to wine at a young age. It was not until the age of nineteen when he took that life experience to the next level and joined the wine cellar team at Bern's Steak House that he started to really develop his passion. Two weeks after turning twenty-one Gregory took and passed his introductory level sommelier test. Shortly thereafter he accepted a harvest internship position in Washington State at Kestrel Vintners; this three-month long internship helped to solidify his growing knowledge and passion in wine. 

After four years enlisted in the Army, Gregory found himself living in Louisville, KY. Eager to get back into the hospitality industry, he took a job working as the event manager at 610 Magnolia. This gave him the opportunity to reacquaint himself with wine and he would work as sommelier in the restaurant. Just nine months after getting out of the Army, he took and passed the Certified Sommelier test through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Gregory was then offered a position working under Master Sommelier Scott Harper at the Bristol Bar and Grille in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Working as the bar manager, he had the chance to be mentored by one of only 211 Master Sommeliers in the world. While living in Louisville, Gregory received a degree in Beverage Management from Sullivan University. In addition to being a Certified Sommelier, Gregory is also a Certified Specialist of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators.
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Gregory Schwab, a native of Long Island, New York had never intended on working with wine when he began his professional life after college. After receiving a BA in Political Science from SUNY Oswego in upstate New York, he took a job as an organizer and assistant campaign director for a Non Profit in Baltimore, Maryland. However, after making plans to attend graduate school, and earn money as a server before hand, Greg quickly realized that the world of wine and hospitality was calling much louder than anything else he had ever encountered. 

Greg began his new career from square one, working as a server in a mall anchor restaurant in the Baltimore Suburbs. His goal was to make each year count, and continue down this road as long as the challenges kept coming, and the scope became wider. Within three years of taking a job as a server, he was working as a Sommelier for Lidia Bastianich in New York City, and soon after was running a program of his own at Rare 650 Prime Steak and Sushi on the Gold Coast of Long Island. 

After passing the notoriously difficult Advanced Exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and building a nationally recognized program at La Cuchara Restaurant in Baltimore, Greg's life brought him to Tampa, and the Bern’s Restaurant Family, where he is Wine Director of Haven Restaurant. When not at Haven, Greg can be found spending time with his cats Kalis and Charlie, and his fiancée Alexa, usually playing frisbee or watching Star Trek.
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Born in St. Louis, Missouri, SideBern's Chef de Cuisine, Courtney Orwig, grew up around the culinary world. His mother worked in the hospitality industry, and his grandfather owned a spice supply company. This early introduction to the world of food became the foundation for a career that has spanned the last 20 years.
Like his idol, Marco Pierre White, Courtney chose experience in the kitchen over culinary school. When he moved to Florida, he spent the first part of his career learning the art of pastry. Courtney found the precise execution and discipline of pastry to be challenging and rewarding. This knowledge of pastry's science and intricate techniques continue to shape his culinary skills and creativity today.
After several years, Courtney dove into the savory side of cuisine and again excelled at everything he prepared. Eventually this level of excellence landed him the position of Sous Chef at Sidebern's (now Haven). His hard work, creativity and dedication have allowed him the opportunity to cook at some of the premier events and venues in the country, including Mondavi Winery, Star Chefs annual International Chefs Congress, and the Oscar's of the culinary world – the James Beard Awards.
Currently, Courtney's position as Chef de Cuisine at Haven allows him to utilize his unique knowledge of both savory and sweet techniques. His latest passion is blending classic preparation techniques of charcuterie with modern flavors profiles. His enthusiasm for premium, fresh ingredients and a desire to push the envelope of progressive are showcased in the dishes Courtney produces every night at Haven. 
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Brent was born and raised in Rome, GA, just north of Atlanta and not far from his grandparent’s farm in rural Alabama.  Looking back on his childhood, the time he spent on the farm represents some of his fondest memories.  There he learned to appreciate the hard work of producing food.  However, Brent didn’t originally have his eye on the culinary profession. 

He attended college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga working towards an environmental science major and chemistry minor.  After taking a job with friend and successful chef, Toby Willis, his love for food and the fast pace of the kitchen began.  Eventually, he moved to Atlanta, to seek out new opportunities.  He accepted an entry – level kitchen position at the city’s premiere restaurant group, Buckhead Life.  Forgoing a formal culinary education, he questioned recent culinary graduates about what text books to buy and study and went to work early every day to learn a new skill from the chefs. With this diligent attitude Brent quickly worked his way through the ranks of the kitchen and eventually took on the titles of banquet chef, sous chef and executive chef for Buckhead Life Restaurant Group.

Brent came to Bern’s in 2006 and found the quality of food and service, attention to detail, and passion for excellence to be exactly what he left in Atlanta.  He feels that his studies in environmental science and his time spent with his family on the farm gives him a deeper respect and appreciation for the food he serves.
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Amber went to Keiser University for the Culinary Arts Program. As a part of the school program she had to complete an internship and Bern's Steak House was her first choice. She learned how the kitchen operated and gained knowledge about the fast paced environment and history of the company, graduating with an A.S. in Culinary Arts. 

Amber began to take art classes and decided that she enjoyed the small intricate details of desserts. Switching over to pastry, she then began to work in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room where she made desserts for Bern's and SideBern’s. Amber’s hard work ethic, creativity, and dedication to the team advanced her through multiple promotions, from pastry cook and assistant pastry chef to her most recent role as pastry chef. Amber’s eleven-year career with Bern’s has provided her the opportunity to collaborate on spectacular events and large menu changes.
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Growing up in a full-blooded Italian family on her mom's side, food was always a part of Heather’s life.  In high school, she wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do, until she took an elective culinary class and her path became instantly clear. The culinary class catered weddings, parties, and even ran a restaurant in the school for the teachers to eat lunch.  Becoming more and more involved in the class, Heather decided to take a chance and apply to a private culinary school. 
She graduated from high school on a Monday, and by that Wednesday she had moved to New York to start culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.  Heather enrolled in the Baking and Pastry Art program and twenty-one months later had an AA at the age of nineteen. 

Heather’s first stint of her career was as a cake decorator with Publix where she learned speed and superb customer service. Next she tried her skills with the Walt Disney World Company where she baked desserts for a restaurant in Magic Kingdom. Wanting to further her career and grow in her field, Heather applied at Bern's and quickly worked her way to the top as pastry chef.  Determination and passion have always been the driving factors for Heather, and you won’t meet anyone on the team who will tell you differently. 
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[category] => Culinary [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 315 [youtube_video_id] => ) [15] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18450 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-08 09:15:31 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |000972600201580827081.png [display_order] => 57 [title] => Executive Chef, Epicurean Hotel [meta_title] => Jason Bamford - Culinary [name] => Jason Bamford [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Jason Bamford||Executive Chef, Epicurean Hotel|||||||||||||As the new Executive Chef at the Epicurean Hotel, Jason Bamford directs daily culinary operations at the signature Élevage SoHo Kitchen & Bar and EDGE Rooftop Cocktail Lounge, and oversees food and beverage offerings for the Epicurean’s 5,200 square feet of function space for meetings, corporate parties, local catering events and special occasions. Prior to joining the Epicurean, Bamford worked as Chef de Cuisine at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. Bamford also worked at the famed Delano Hotel on Miami’s South Beach as the Chef de Cuisine and Interim Executive Chef. With more than 20 years in the industry, Chef Bamford also honed his craft at the Waldorf Astoria Bonnet Creek in Orlando and Bottega Ristorante in Napa. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Bamford is a native of Michigan and now resides in Tampa. |
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[category] => Culinary [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 315 [youtube_video_id] => ) [16] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18451 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-05 17:59:30 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |050162900201580833168.png [display_order] => 58 [title] => Senior Bartender, Bern's Steak House [meta_title] => Doug Coe [name] => Doug Coe [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Doug Coe||Senior Bartender, Bern's Steak House|||||||||||||
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[category] => Spirits [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 317 [youtube_video_id] => ) [17] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18452 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-05 17:59:48 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |021296600201580833195.png [display_order] => 59 [title] => Beverage Manager, Haven [meta_title] => Chris Belk [name] => Chris Belk [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Chris Belk||Beverage Manager, Haven|||||||||||||
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[category] => Spirits [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 317 [youtube_video_id] => ) [18] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18456 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-04 19:51:41 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |014360900201580829037.png [display_order] => 60 [title] => International Export Operations, Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine [meta_title] => Pablo Paredes [name] => Pablo Paredes [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Pablo Paredes||International Export Operations, Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine|||||||||||||
Pablo Paredes was born in 1985 in Valladolid (Spain). The love for the vineyard and wine runs through his veins since he belongs to a family who, in a small town near to the Duero valley, planted their own vineyards more than 100 years ago and have been making wine for friends and family for 4 generations. 

He holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Valladolid. In Madrid, at ESIC Business & Marketing School completed the International Master of Foreign Trade (2011), and expanded his training at the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce in Miami (2012).

A passionate man about wine and international playgrounds, he moved into the US in 2012 for 6 years, developing his career involved into 2 family-owned spanish wineries (Matarromera Group, from Ribera del Duero, and Bodegas Vivanco from Rioja), and Wines of Brasil, a Brazilian Government´s organization to promote their wines in the United States. 

As a dreamed job, after keeping an eye for years on the successful evolution of Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine, Pablo Paredes joined the International Department team in January 2016. His mission is to develop and consolidate the international export operations and brand building of Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine in the Americas region. 

In 2017 Pablo Paredes moved into Madrid, and keeps leading operations the company in this region, traveling once a month to the US. Thanks to the fact of being located 1 hour away from Sardón de Duero, he can be closer to the vineyards and the winery technical team, which means a helpful factor in the WSET Level 3 certification progress.
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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [19] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 16121 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-04 20:10:10 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |089866100201486392616.png [display_order] => 61 [title] => Directeur/President, Webster Barnes Wine and Spirits [meta_title] => Bill Barnes - Directeur/President [name] => William Barnes [keywords] => [description] => Wine and fine spirits have been a passionate part of William’s life for over 25 years. [text] => William Barnes|Webster Barnes Wine and Spirits|Directeur/President, Webster Barnes Wine and Spirits|||||||||||||Wine and fine spirits have been a passionate part of William’s life for over 25 years.  Starting in restaurants and teaching others about wine and then moving on to over 17 years in distribution.  During this time, William travelled the world learning hands on about wine and spirits from all the great regions.  He has gained several certifications with wine including becoming a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers.  He is the owner of a Webster Barnes Wine and Spirits with offices in Florida and Bordeaux.  His company represents one of the largest inventories of Classified Bordeaux wine available anywhere in the world.  Webster Barnes Wine and Spirits represents many other areas including Italy, Spain, Germany, Champagne, Armagnac, Cognac and American Craft Spirits. |
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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [20] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18455 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-04 19:46:58 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |007752200201580828770.png [display_order] => 63 [title] => Winemaker, E. Guigal [meta_title] => Philippe Guigal [name] => Philippe Guigal [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Philippe Guigal||Winemaker, E. Guigal|||||||||||||
Philippe Guigal was born in France not far from Ampuis, in Vienne, on January 23, 1975. At the early age of 6, he was inspired by his grandfather and father who worked together. Throughout his childhood he often joined them in the cellars and frequently traveled to visit the vineyards in the Rhone Valley. In 1992, he started his studies in organic chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Lyon and five years later he obtained his oenologist degree from the University of Burgundy.

Philippe became the winemaker at the family company in 1997, at the age of 22, a formidable challenge to say the least. In 1992, he graduated with a Master of Science in Wine and Business Management from the O.I.V. (International Organization of Wine and Wine0), during which he traveled 2 years visiting 17 wine producing countries.

Apart from his company, Philippe Guigal has held a position as French foreign trade advisor since 2009. Married to Eve in 2008, the couple raises their twin boys: Charles and Etienne born in 2010. 

Philippe represents the third generation of Guigal vignerons in Côte-Rôtie. He and his father pursue their common goal, to maintain a family company while producing the finest Rhone Valley wines and serving their customers with satisfaction.

While Philippe’s work is all encompassing, he does have a few outside interests of note. First is a fascination with antique furniture that grew out of refurbishing Chateau d’Ampuis. The Chateau’s restoration was not only done with historical preservation and accuracy in mind, but the chairs, tables and tapestries are all period pieces that the Guigals have acquired.

Secondly, Philippe Guigal’s stage presence and grace were developed at a young age when his mother wanted to learn to dance to rock and roll and forced him to attend dancing lessons, as his father did not like to dance. After a year the dancing teacher suggested he enter competitions. When he was young, Philippe several times was among the top French youth couples dancers, was French co-champion of Latin-American dancing at the age of 16, and won a European dancing challenge. His wife Eve’s mother runs a dancing school in Corsica, and Eve has been dancing since she was 5. Today, Even and Philippe continue to train and compete, specifically in the ballroom dancing discipline. 
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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [21] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18464 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-06 13:57:17 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |005915200201581015437.png [display_order] => 64 [title] => Private Client Manager, Moët Hennessy [meta_title] => Victor Blanquart [name] => Victor Blanquart [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Victor Blanquart||Private Client Manager, Moët Hennessy|||||||||||||

Victor Blanquart has over 8 years of experience within the luxury wine and spirits universe, across Europe, US and Caribbean.

He began his career at Schweppes (Suntory group) as product marketing assistant in Paris.

In 2012, Victor joined Rémy Cointreau group in Paris on a marketing position and in 2014, he took over a role of Senior Ambassador on LOUIS XIII for the Southeast US and Caribbean markets, based in Miami. He developed in the US his expertise within the world of luxury spirits and a strong Private Clients culture.

Since November 2018, Victor is managing all the Private Clients and collectors of fines champagnes, wines and spirits for Moet Hennessy Private, dedicated team of Private clients within the LVMH Group.

Victor lives in Miami Florida and travels around the southeast of the US to host intimate experiences for dear friends of our beautiful Maisons.

Victor holds a degree of Master of Science in International Marketing and Business Development from SKEMA Business School in Nice, as well as a bachelor’s degree in history.

Passionate of ice hockey where ice is difficult to find in the sunshine state, Victor used to play ice hockey for 15 years in France where we won the National Championship title.

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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [22] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18457 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-04 20:08:25 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |092086600201580829102.png [display_order] => 65 [title] => Director of Business for North America, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou [meta_title] => Cathleen Burke-Visscher [name] => Cathleen Burke-Visscher [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Cathleen Burke-Visscher||Director of Business for North America, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou|||||||||||||A New York based strategist, marketer and founder of Wine Works & Co., Cathleen specializes in fine wine and spirits consulting. She is a board member, educator, baker, industry speaker, coach and mother. Known for brand development and creation using a strategic approach to the market, Cathleen is a resource for importers, wine estates, winemakers and wine regions seeking a platform on which to build an identity.

Cathleen has experience as chief marketing officer for blue chip brands including Taittinger Champagne, Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Louis Jadot, St. Francis, Bollini, Caposaldo, Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca, Cakebread Cellars and Christian Moueix and The Seeker. She was named one of the Ad Ages Top 100 Marketers, lectures on wine and food.
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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [23] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18454 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-04 19:45:27 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |043804300201580827754.png [display_order] => 66 [title] => Winemaker, Iron Horse [meta_title] => David Munksgard - Winemaker [name] => David Munksgard [keywords] => [description] => [text] => David Munksgard|Iron Horse|Winemaker, Iron Horse|||||||||||||
David Munksgard is the winemaker at Iron Horse. He is an enologist, a graduate of the enology/viticulture program at California State University, Fresno. He joined the extended family in 1996, bringing with him 16 years of experience in producing both sparkling and still wine in California's Russian River Valley and New York's Finger Lakes region.

David evolves with the vineyards and the wines. “Our goal here is to make better wines each year. That really keeps you on your toes, forcing you to re-think everything. Nothing is sacred; nothing is cast in stone.” Believing that great wines start with great grapes, David works closely with the vineyard team. His winemaking decisions are made as the grapes come into fruition. The first, most important is when and where to harvest on the estate. “Here I am 40 plus years into my career and I’m so excited about our future wines, I can hardly be contained.”

He says, "I'm doing everything I've always wanted to do. I'm working with estate-grown grapes; I'm making still and sparkling wines; I'm working for and with some very fine people, all of whom are driven by one single goal - to make wonderful wines that we can all be proud of."

David describes himself as a hopeless romantic. He is a devoted family man. His passion and enthusiasm for wine is contagious.
Summing up his feelings about winemaking, David concludes, “For those of us fortunate enough to be making wine, it is not that we should be winemakers, we simply MUST be winemakers. Nothing else will satisfy that need to craft; to imprint onto and into our wines what we feel and see when we walk the vineyard and dream of what it might be.”

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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [24] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18453 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 14:34:13 [newsDate] => 2020-02-04 19:08:38 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |081291800201580827545.png [display_order] => 67 [title] => Trade Engagement & Events Manager, Pernod Ricard [meta_title] => Elise Cordell - Manager, Trade Engagement & Events - Champagne [name] => Elise Cordell [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Elise Cordell||Trade Engagement & Events Manager, Pernod Ricard|||||||||||||Hailing from Northeast Ohio, Elise called several places ‘home’ before settling in Dallas, Texas. The one constant through the various changes has always been WINE! 

Through family gatherings at the several local vineyards in Ashtabula and Lake Counties, and a diverse cellar courtesy of her father, she developed an understanding and appreciation for the craft. The epiphany of a career did not come until much later, when she took the famed ‘Introduction to Wines’ course at Cornell University. Enjoying the experience so much, she became a TA the following semester. After finishing with a degree in International Relations, she decided to move abroad to work for the British Chamber of Commerce in Bratislava, Slovakia. Once her contract was finished, she returned home to find that economic climate was less than hospitable, and looked to her parents for advice. Her father introduced her to the Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producer’s Association, and an opportunity to work with them as a Special Projects Coordinator arose. 

With responsibilities centering around the annual Vintage Ohio Festival, Elise was exposed to the more than 100 wineries around the state, and knew that wine education was a key component in strengthening the industry. This has held true through her time in the business, and whether it was working as a Wine Consultant for major retailer ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, as a Manager at the famed Bern’s Steak House/SideBern’s, Fine Wine Specialist with the unique portfolio of Augustan Wine Imports, or with Pernod-Ricard USA, Elise strives to share the stories of her producers to help give novices and experts alike a ‘taste’ of this dynamic world. 
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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [25] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18467 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-14 12:01:58 [newsDate] => 2020-02-14 12:01:58 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |010019500201581446157.png [display_order] => 68 [title] => American Whisk(e)y Ambassador, East Coast - Beam Suntory [meta_title] => Tim Heuisler [name] => Tim Heuisler [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Tim Heuisler|Beam Suntory|American Whisk(e)y Ambassador, East Coast - Beam Suntory|||||||||||||

Tim, a Philadelphia native and veteran of the bar and restaurant scene, has spent many years sharing his love for bourbon and rye.  Using his contagious passion for our native spirit, Tim promoted whiskey education and helped spark the interest of guests and colleagues alike. This lead to him becoming the youngest ever general manager of Time, a renowned whiskey bar in Philadelphia.

 

Tim accepted the role of Beam Suntory American Whisk(e)y Ambassador, East Coast in 2017.  Since then, he’s worked with the distilleries and the company’s advocacy team to help showcase what he considers the industry’s top American Whisk(e)y portfolio. With a knack for networking, Tim likes to connect the dots between people, places, things and whiskey. 

Covering Boston to Miami, he enjoys sharing knowledge with bartenders, influencers and whisk(e)y enthusiasts from city to city.

 

When he doesn’t have someone to chat and chew bourbon with, Tim can be found within ear shot of any concert venue or riding his motorcycle to visit his crew of 6 nieces, nephews and 4 older siblings.  Tim’s career and widespread family keep him on the move…anyone want to impulsively buy plane tickets and explore a new city?  Call Tim.

 

 

Place of Birth – Philadelphia, PA

 

Cocktail of Choice – Bakers Manhattan, served “up down” (it’s a Philly thing)

 

Advice to Spirit Drinkers – Price never equates to quality, only rarity

 

Drink Name and Garnish – It would be called Tall Trees as that’s my bowling name and served with a water back to keep you hydrated.


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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [26] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18472 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 16:41:49 [newsDate] => 2020-02-11 16:40:40 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |025124400201581457240.png [display_order] => 69 [title] => Chief Executive Officer, Chateau Montelena [meta_title] => Bo Barrett [name] => James P. "Bo" Barrett [keywords] => [description] => [text] => James P. "Bo" Barrett|Chateau Montelena|Chief Executive Officer, Chateau Montelena|||||||||||||

James P. “Bo” Barrett took over the role of Chief Executive Officer at Chateau Montelena Winery following the passing of his father, James L. “Jim” Barrett, in March 2013. Prior to becoming CEO, he served as Master Winemaker for over 30 years. Bo’s career in the wine industry began in the summer of 1972, when his family purchased the historic stone building and estate vineyards in Calistoga, California. He spent the first summer working in the old vineyards, pulling star thistle and picking up rocks in preparation for replanting.

 

Bo has been involved in every vintage at Chateau Montelena since the winery’s rebirth 1972. His intimate knowledge of the Estate vineyard, gained over 40 years, provides him with a wealth of experience that allows him, year after year, to “bring the vintage and the vineyard to your table in a wine that is elegant, balanced and enjoyable.” 

 

In 1976 Bo transferred to Fresno State University, where he was an honors student in Viticulture and Enology. As 1981 drew to a close, Chateau Montelena’s Winemaker left to pursue other opportunities and Bo was offered the job by his father, the winery’s Managing General Partner. “When I told my dad I would think about it, I was concerned about what it would do to our relationship.  I thought about it for two days and finally told him that I would need to have the freedom and professional respect he had shown the previous winemakers.  He agreed, and that’s how its was.”

 

When not making wine, Bo enjoys flying, scuba diving, skiing, and spending time with his wife, Heidi, and his three children.


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Born in 1983 the small city of Lelystad, The Netherlands, Joram Roukes earned his BFA in fine arts at the Minerva Academy of Arts in Groningen in 2006. After which, he was nominated for the Young Talent Award curated by Dutch arts magazine, Kunstbeeld.  In 2008 Roukes was awarded a stipend from the Dutch National Arts Foundation, ‘Fonds BKVB (currently known as Mondriaanfonds), which he used to set up an artist residency in Brooklyn, NYC.  Roukes currently lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

 

Joram Roukes’ work is a dark, humorous play on topics that range from popular culture, global affairs and personal experience. Roukes creates juxtapositions of imagery to create abstract narratives and figures that evoke introspection and contemplation. His work gained attention from several international galleries such as CASS Contemporary in Tampa, Thinkspace in Los Angeles and StolenSpace in London. He work has been exhibited in cities world-wide, including Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Tampa and London.

 

In addition to his gallery exhibits, Joram Roukes has completed large scale murals all over the world.  His walls can be found in Seattle, Honolulu, Portland, Florida, Las Vegas and throughout Europe. 


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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [28] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18465 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 16:41:38 [newsDate] => 2020-02-06 18:45:21 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1350 [image] => |019998300201581015471.png [display_order] => 71 [title] => Brewmaster, Coppertail Brewing Co. [meta_title] => [name] => Casey Hughes [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Casey Hughes|Coppertail Brewing Co.|Brewmaster, Coppertail Brewing Co.|||||||||||||

At age 18 Casey hightailed it down to Florida from his childhood home in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York to pursue his dream of brewing beer in paradise.  Before the ink was on his high school diploma was dry he found employment at Key West Brewing working on the bottling line.  He worked his way up to a brewer position before he turned 21, putting him in the unusual spot of being a professional brewer who was legally prohibited from drinking his own product.

 

In 2002 Casey became the Head Brewer of Flying Fish Brewing in New Jersey.  Over the next decade he developed a series of critically acclaimed beers and led the brewery through a period of rapid growth, winning GABF medals for his IPA, Trippel, Dubbel, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Belgian Chestnut Specialty Ale and Super Friends Collaboration.  It was also during this time that Men’s Journal chose his Trippel as “Best Belgian Beer in America”, and he served as President of the Masters Brewers Association of America, District of New York.  However, despite his brewing success up north, with each miserable New Jersey winter the siren song of Florida grew louder.

 

Casey’s brewing career now comes full circle as he returns to Florida to lead Coppertail Brewing in 2014.  


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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [29] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18468 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-11 16:41:26 [newsDate] => 2020-02-11 13:43:59 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |091973400201581446639.png [display_order] => 72 [title] => Head Brewer, Motorworks Brewing [meta_title] => Bob Haa [name] => Bob Haa [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Bob Haa|Motorworks Brewing|Head Brewer, Motorworks Brewing|||||||||||||

Bob Haa, Head Brewer at Motorworks Brewing

Bob is the mastermind behind the beer and as a founding member he has taken production from zero to over six thousand barrels annually. When he’s not formulating recipes and brewing beer Bob enjoys hiking and attending music festivals. He grew up in Cullman, Alabama then studied Biology at St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland and Mycology at the University of Minnesota.

During his college days Bob started home brewing as a hobby and took several medals in competitions. He began a career in commercial brewing in 1998 at Hops Restaurants in Minneapolis and then a year with St. Sebastiaan brewery in 2004. Bob spent 8 years selling craft beer in Florida before taking the dive back into the production side at Motorworks.

Over the 6 years since opening, Motorworks has brewed hundreds of different beers and won over 60 awards including Silver at 2018 World Beer Cup, Brew of the Year at 2017 Best Florida Beer Championship, Gold at 2014 Great American Beer Festival, Gold at 2019 U.S. Open Beer Championship and many more.


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[category] => Guest [video_link] => [start_time] => [finish_time] => [code] => 1 [category_website] => 92 [category_sort] => 0 [type_category] => members [category_id] => 319 [youtube_video_id] => ) [30] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 18475 [website] => 92 [entryDate] => 2020-02-13 11:52:35 [newsDate] => 2020-02-13 11:52:35 [section] => members [lastUserID] => 1263 [image] => |012737700201581612755.png [display_order] => 73 [title] => Head Brewer, Gulfport Brewery + Eatery [meta_title] => Jason Toft [name] => Jason Toft [keywords] => [description] => [text] => Jason Toft|Gulfport Brewery + Eatery|Head Brewer, Gulfport Brewery + Eatery|||||||||||||

Ready to bring exciting new beer to sunny Gulfport, Jason is a veteran of the Tampa Bay Area craft beer industry. Getting his start in 2011 learning to homebrew in his backyard, Jason quickly grew in experience and knowledge, becoming a BJCP Certified beer judge in 2013. He pursued a career in craft beer, interviewing with Green Bench Brewing Co., Pair O’ Dice Brewing, and Mad Beach Brewing before landing at Crooked Thumb Brewery in Safety Harbor as their Assistant Brewer. 


After four years of experience learning from Kenjiro Tomita, Jason was offered the Head Brewer position with Gulfport Brewery + Eatery and started in August of 2019. Eager to bring a craft brewery back to Gulfport, Jason brews beer for all palates. 


Since 2017, Jason has served as the Vice President Of Commercial Brewing for Best Florida Beer, where he has managed and grown the statewide professional competition and Brewer’s Ball, an awards ceremony for the competition and celebration festival.


His favorite beer is Miller High Life. Ask him why!“


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