off the vine panelists

How Technology Is Changing The Wine Industry

Nowadays, sommeliers must be knowledgeable about more than the wines they serve—they also have to be on the cutting edge of technology. While technology can often be seen as a hindrance in service and hospitality, it can actually build communities, allow consumers to be in-the-know, and even introduce sommeliers to new information.

At our most recent Off the Vine panel, we spoke with two graduates of our Intensive Sommelier Training program, Anna-Christina Cabrales (Certified Sommelier—General Manager & Wine Director of Morrell Wine Bar) and Jerry Cox (Advanced Sommelier—Sommelier at Le Coucou), to understand how technology impacts sommeliers in their role as ambassadors of hospitality—on restaurant floors, behind the bar, in wine shops and more. Moderated by Nikki Palladino, ICC’s Wine Coordinator, we dove into how sommeliers must adapt to take service beyond the bottle.

Below, check out what our panelists shared about the benefits, drawbacks and learning curves of incorporating new technology into service!

There's Always A New Tool

Picture this: you finally open a bottle of wine that you’ve been saving, but you have to enjoy it in one sitting. Sure, you could try to re-cork it, or put a stopper into the bottle. However, now that you’ve introduced oxygen to the bottle, you know it won’t be the same. Gone are those days thanks to the ever-evolving world of wine gadgets.

coravin

If you work in restaurants, are studying for your Court of Master Sommelier Exams, or just want a single glass of wine, you need to know about Coravin. Coravin is changing the way that the world drinks wine. They are the world’s first wine technology company, and their system allows you to pour wine without removing the cork and introducing oxygen into the bottle. This allows you to prolong the life of a bottle and keep your wine fresher, longer. Sommeliers Cabrales and Cox both use Coravin at home and in their restaurants. While they agree that it isn’t ideal for delicate vintages and aromatic varietals like Rieslings, it’s perfect for bold, young wines and does not compromise the integrity of the bottle. Try it for yourself and see what you think!

New Networks And Communities Are Built Daily

It’s no secret that the world of social media is prevalent in our daily lives. Every day, stories and experiences are shared with the world, creating long lasting memories and communities. This also holds true for the world of wine.

When Cabrales first started her Instagram account, she wasn’t expecting anything to come of it and was simply commemorating the amazing wines that she gets to taste. Now, she has built a community of over 6,000 followers that love to see the wine that she’s pouring. She doesn’t provide tasting notes in her captions as she believes you must taste a wine on various occasions before you’re able to understand its complexity. Cabrales also shared that social media is a great way to meet collectors and learn from other wine lovers around the world!

The Customer's Experience Is Always First

At the end of the day, sommeliers are on the front lines of hospitality and are there to elevate the customer experience. Sommeliers have the opportunity to make a guest’s evening more memorable and provide a lasting impression. But, technology is changing the way that sommeliers provide these experiences to their guests.

Vivino is one of the apps changing the industry all together—especially the way customers do, and don’t interact with sommeliers. This popular app is used by millions around the world to rate bottles of wine, profiling over 100,000 wines on the app. It was designed for wine lovers with little knowledge of wine to help them feel more informed. It recognizes labels and names of wines, even on a wine list, and tells the consumer what people are saying about the wine, average prices, and more.

vivino

Contrary to popular belief, wine apps are not totally icing out the sommelier from a diner’s experience. In fact, customers are more excited and educated about wine than ever before. Now, when Cabrales or Cox approach a table to provide recommendations on their wine list, customers often have the Vivino app pulled up on their phones to make their selection for them. While this can be a tricky situation to navigate, both of our experts agree—it’s best to be on the customer’s side. Use the app as a positive conversational tool to gain the customer’s trust and show them that a sommelier is there to recommend the best wine for their needs.

OFF THE VINE, brought to you by the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, is a series of tastings, discussion panels and networking events designed to support wine professionals in the beverage industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.
wine

Becoming An Advanced Sommelier: 6 ICC Alumni Who Have Done It!

What does it take to join the ranks of Advanced Sommeliers? Look no further than these 6 Intensive Sommelier Training graduates who have achieved this designation!

Here at ICC, our Intensive Sommelier Training program students learn how to taste and evaluate more than 300 bottles from around the world in just 10 or 17 weeks. Since ICC has the only program approved by the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas®, our students have the opportunity to take the Introductory and Certified Sommelier Examinations back-to-back, on-site at ICC upon successful completion of our program.

The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in 1977 as the premier international examining body to encourage improved standards or beverage knowledge and service. There are four certification levels within the Court—Introductory Sommelier, Certified Sommelier, Advanced Sommelier and Master Sommelier. Since the first exam in 1969, only 262 professionals in the world have earned the title of Master Sommelier—14 of them teach in our Intensive Sommelier Training program here in Soho.

To become a Master Sommelier means to pass one of the most notoriously difficult examinations in the world—you may be familiar with this if you’ve seen the documentary “SOMM”. But, that doesn’t make the prior exams much easier. In fact, it is said that the Advanced Sommelier Examination is a significant “jump” from the Certified, meaning that the knowledge level required is much greater. It takes years of preparation, dedication and experience to even be considered for the Advanced Sommelier Course—the court requires a minimum of “two years of restaurant experience in a service/sales position and must be in the restaurant/hospitality or beverage industry” in addition to having passed the Certified Sommelier Examination one year prior. To be invited to sit for the Advanced Sommelier Examination, one must have a minimum of three years of experience and successfully completed the Advanced Sommelier Course. The examination itself is broken down into three parts, written theory, practical service and blind tasting. As the last exam before the prestigious Master Sommelier Examination, the stakes are pretty high!

It is an incredibly rigorous process to join the ranks of the Advanced and Master Sommeliers. Since the inception of our Intensive Sommelier Training program, at least 6 alumni have gone on to become Advanced Sommeliers—an incredible achievement and we’re honored to play a small role in the beginning of their journey. Below, learn what it took for these graduates to achieve their Advanced Sommelier designations, what a career in wine looks like, and who’s preparing for the Master Sommelier Examinations!

jhonel faelnar
Jhonel Faelnar | Wine Director & Sommelier | ATO Company (ATOBOY NYC & ATOMIX NYC)

Graduated in 2014 Passed The Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier Exam in 2016

From Manila to Japan and finally NYC, Jhonel Faelner landed in the Big Apple to pursue his love of wine after a stint in fashion and being swept up by the wine culture in Japan. In 2013, Jhonel received scholarships from both the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center to attend ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program. Upon completion of the program, he successfully passed the CMS Certified Sommelier Exams. After, he worked his way thru One Five Hospitality and the Make It Nice family at The Nomad before running the wine program at one of the country’s hottest restaurants, ATOMIX. In 2017 Jhonel was awarded ICC’s Outstanding Alumni Award for Outstanding Sommelier. Jhonel is an Advanced Sommelier studying for his Master Sommelier; he is a Wine & Spirits Best New Sommelier for 2018 and the Wine Director at ATO Company, overseeing the beverage program at both ATOBOY and ATOMIX in NYC.

aaron babcock
Aaron Babcock | Sommelier | Quince Restaurant

Graduated in 2012 Passed The Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier Exam in 2015

Aaron developed a deep curiosity about wine while working at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in a small town just south of Pittsburgh, PA. Having had the honor of working throughout various restaurants on the property, he honed his skills in fine dining. With wine on the mind, Aaron enrolled at ICC in Campbell, CA in 2012 to complete the Intensive Sommelier Training program as well as the CMS Certified exam at the age of 21. From there he returned to Nemacolin for a year. Soon, Aaron was offered a job at Manresa, the 3 star Michelin restaurant by Chef David Kinch in Los Gatos, CA. There he worked as a Sommelier with Jim Rollston, MS. After passing the CMS Advanced Exam at the age of 24, he became the Sommelier at Quince in San Francisco. At Quince, Aaron has been able to help expand the wine program, as well as being able to be part of the transition from 2 to 3 Michelin stars. While remaining at Quince, Aaron continues to prepare for the Master Sommelier exam and occasionally teaches wine education classes in the Bay Area. Aaron is the 2018 recipient of ICC’s Outstanding Alumni Award for Outstanding Sommelier.

robert v
Robert Vardanian | Wine Director | Wally’s Fine Wine, Spirits & Gourmet Market

Graduated in 2013 | Passed The Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier Exam in 2017

Robert Vardanian is a sommelier and the Wine Director at Wally’s Fine Wine, Spirits & Gourmet Market in California. His career in fine wine began as a sommelier at BOA Steak and Church & State. In 2013, Robert enrolled in ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program and went on to achieve his Certified Sommelier distinction with the Court of Master Sommeliers. After joining Wally’s in 2015, Robert worked his way up and became the Wine Director. In 2017, he became an Advanced Sommelier after years of hard work. Since then, Robert has been avidly working towards higher certifications while sharing his passion and experience with his guests.

beki_200x200
Rebecca Miller | Sommelier | La Toque

Graduated in 2011 | Passed Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier Exam in 2017

Rebecca Miller is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and holds credentials as a Certified Specialist of Wine and French Wine Scholar. Rebecca is a sommelier in the Napa Valley at the Michelin starred La Toque working with a prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award wine list. In 2011, Rebecca graduated from ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program, passing her Certified Sommelier exam immediately following. Before joining the team at La Toque Rebecca was on the opening staff of In Situ, an exhibition restaurant at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Rebecca worked with the wine lists of Prima, Verbena, LB Steak, and Alexander’s Steakhouse in the San Francisco Bay Area.

minjoo kim
Minjoo Kim | Head Sommelier | Les Clefs de Crystal

Graduated in 2013 | Passed The Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier Exam in 2017

Minjoo Kim, Advanced Sommelier, began her foray into food and wine training to become a chef and received her Culinary Arts Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia. It was during her time as a culinary apprentice that she realized her passion for wine and sought to further her education at the International Culinary Center in New York, enrolling in the Intensive Sommelier Training program. In 2013, after passing the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory and Certified Sommelier Exams at ICC, she returned to Korea to begin her wine career. Over the years Minjoo has worked as both Manager and Chief Sommelier for Hannam Liquor, retail shop and wine bar, as well as a tasting educator for the International Food and Wine Society, and Judge of the Korea Sommelier Wine Awards and Korean Wine Fair. In 2017 she passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier Exam and in 2019 was named Korea’s Sommelier of the Year.

jerry_200x200
Jerry Cox | Sommelier | Le Coucou

Graduated in 2014 | Passed The Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier Exam in 2019

Jerry Cox is the newest ICC alum to be inducted into the elite group of Advanced Sommeliers. Jerry graduated from ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program in 2014. After passing the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory and Certified Sommelier Examinations, Jerry brought his new wine knowledge to the team at Colicchio and Sons. Today, Jerry is the Sommelier at Le Coucou. He successfully joined the ranks of Advanced Sommeliers in 2019.

elevating hospitality through wine

Off The Vine: Elevating Hospitality Through Wine

OFF THE VINE, brought to you by the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, is a series of discussion panels and networking events designed to support wine professionals in the beverage industry. Each event provides education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.

How Sommeliers Have Become Ambassadors of Hospitality

Thursday, September 26th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

The importance of service is not an unfamiliar concept to the world of Sommeliers. In fact, organizations like the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas® have long been responsible for setting a global standard of excellence for beverage service within the hospitality industry. While standard service techniques and proper mise-en-place remain the same, the role of service in hospitality continues to evolve and Sommeliers are being asked to expand with it. As ambassadors of hospitality, Sommeliers must adapt to take service beyond the bottle to fit the needs of today’s customer.

So how can sommeliers stay relevant in this changing industry?

In our next Off the Vine panel, we’ll sit down with wine industry professionals Anna-Christina Cabrales (Certified Sommelier—General Manager & Wine Director of Morrell Wine Bar) and Jerry Cox (Advanced Sommelier—Sommelier at Le Coucou) to discuss how sommeliers can maximize their value in restaurants. We’ll explore the role of sommeliers as ambassadors of hospitality—both on and off the restaurant floor—and how it’s evolving with the use of social media. In addition, we’ll discuss how sommeliers are driving taste trends both in service, and as wine list curators, and the outcomes of such change—think the rise of natural wine or the stunted appearance of varietals like Pinot Grigio! Plus, they’ll share professional words of wisdom that every sommelier should know, such as the do’s and don’t(s) of service, balancing wine knowledge with guest experience, and how to provide customers with the information they can’t get from a Google search! Come with your questions—there will be an open Q&A with the panelists following the discussion, and the opportunity to network with other professionals.

Looking to break into the industry? You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about how ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program can help you pursue your wine career.

Light refreshments will be provided.

MODERATOR

nikki palladino
Nikki Palladino, Certified Sommelier, ICC Wine Program Coordinator

Nikki Palladino joins her alma matter as ICC’s newest Wine Program Coordinator. Nikki began her career in publishing, earning a certificate in Books & Digital Magazine Media from NYU’s SPI Program.  Thereafter, she secured a Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law – clerking for a judge and working for a legal consulting firm in Manhattan.

After traveling to Napa, however, she was drawn to the vine and decided to shift her career focus to hospitality. After graduating from ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training Program, Nikki joined B&B Hospitality Group, where she worked first as a Server at La Sirena and eventually as a Sommelier, at beloved neighborhood spot, Lupa. More recently, Nikki worked as Head Sommelier at the seafood staple Oceana, in Midtown.  While at Oceana, Nikki was featured in Food & Wine Magazine and was responsible for purchasing wines for the Italian portion of the List.

She is a member of Women of the Vine and is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas®.

PANELISTS

Anna Christina Cabrales
Anna-Christina Cabrales, Certified Sommelier
Beverage Director and General Manager of Morrell Wine Bar

Morrell Wine Bar Beverage Director and General Manager, Anna-Christina Cabrales brings a wealth of wine and culinary experience to her position. Growing up in a large family of chefs, Anna’s love of food and wine led her to the International Culinary Center where she received a Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts and graduated from the first Intensive Sommelier Training program. Since joining Morrell in 2012, Anna-Christina has expanded the by-the-glass selection to, at one point, more than 150 wines. Her efforts have been recognized and awarded by The World of Fine Wine in 2014 naming Morrell Wine Bar’s glass list “Best by-the-glass Wine List” and the 2015 Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator for growing the bottle list well over 1,200 selections. Outside of work, she enjoys her time dining and enjoying wines from the regions of Champagne, Northern Rhone, Bandol and Burgundy.

Jerry Cox, Advanced Sommelier
Sommelier at Le Coucou

Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Jerry graduated from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University with a degree in Marketing. After college, he spent a year in Buenos Aires, Argentina studying culinary arts at Gato Dumas Colegio de Gastronomía. In 2013, he moved to NYC where he began working at Colicchio & Sons. Jerry enrolled in ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program in the spring of 2014, passing the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas’ Introductory and Certified Sommelier Examinations upon completion of the program. After several months of travel in 2015, which included a stage at a B&B in the Loire Valley, Jerry returned to NYC in 2016. Shortly after, he began working as a Sommelier and opening member of the Le Coucou team. Since opening, the team has achieved such accolades as the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the U.S. and Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Jerry passed the CMS Advanced Sommelier Examination in July of 2019.

wine enthusiast

14 ICC Grads and Instructors Awarded Prestigious Honors from Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast Magazine is one of America’s foremost experts and voices on wine. With over 300 million magazines printed since 1988, to reaching millions across their social platforms, their knowledge and expertise is far reaching around the world.

Each year, Wine Enthusiast publishes a list of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants that honors “a selection of restaurants where wine is shared and celebrated, and where, the selection, food, service and atmosphere are all exceptional.” With knowledgeable experts bringing consumers information on the fascinating world of wine and spirits, this list speaks to the hard work and dedication that restaurant owners across America are bringing to the table.

We are proud to congratulate the six members of the ICC community who have been named on this prestigious list—from an Intensive Sommelier Training alumnus and instructors, to graduates of our Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts and Art of International Bread Baking programs, the versatility of the awardees speaks for itself.

If that’s not enough, check out these eight restaurants owned or operated by ICC alumni that were inducted into Wine Enthusiast’s Restaurant Hall of Fame. These standouts have appeared on their list of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants four or more times, and they’re still operating at the top of their game.

Congratulations to all for continuing to raise the standards of food and wine in America! We couldn’t be more proud. Below, check out the winners and their respective restaurants, then click on the links to view the full lists.

Angler, CA

Joshua Skenes, Founder, Professional Culinary Arts ‘01

Atomix, NY

Jhonel Faelnar, Advanced Sommelier, Wine Director & Sommelier, Intensive Sommelier Training ‘14

Gotham Bar and Grill, NY

Jason Hedges, Beverage Director, Culinary Entrepreneurship ’11

Lafayette, NY

Josh Nadel, MS, Beverage Director, Intensive Sommelier Training Program Instructor

Racines, NY

Pascaline Lepeltier, MS, Partner, Intensive Sommelier Training Program Instructor

Vetri Cucina, PA

Mark Vetri, Chef/Founder, Art of International Bread Baking ‘98

Click here to view the full list

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, NY

Dan Barber, Chef/Owner, Professional Culinary Arts ’94

Fish & Game, NY

Zak Pelaccio, Owner and Executive Chef, Professional Culinary Arts ‘98

Frasca Food and Wine, CO

Kelly Jeun, Co Executive Chef, Professional Culinary Arts ‘07

Gramercy Tavern, NY

Howard Kalachnikoff, Chef de Cuisine, Professional Culinary Arts ’04

L’Etoile, WI

Tory Miller, Chef/Owner, Professional Culinary Arts ’00

Manresa, CA

David Kinch, Executive Chef, Dean

Per Se, NY

Anna Bolz, Executive Pastry Chef, Professional Pastry Arts ’07

Quince, CA

Aaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier, Intensive Sommelier Training Program ‘13

Click here to view the full list

world's 50 best

ICC Alumni Named To The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List!

On June 25th, in the late hours of the evening in Singapore—luckily the morning for us in NYC—the moment the culinary world had been waiting for had finally arrived: the release of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 sponsored by San Pellegrino.

While the list has seen many changes since its inception 18 years ago, it still arguably holds significant power in today’s foodie world. Take Chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, for example, who visited ICC for a demonstration last September. In 2013 and 2015, his restaurant took home 1st place, then received over 2 million reservation requests within 24 hours (Time). The impact that this list has on the culinary world is immense.

That’s why, we couldn’t be more excited to congratulate the three ICC alumni and their respective restaurants who have been named to this year’s World’s 50 Best list. It is truly one of the greatest honors in gastronomy! We would also like to extend our congratulations to 2019 Professional Culinary Arts graduate Matthew Boronat, who is a line cook at Cosme. After graduating just three months ago, he secured a job at the No. 23 restaurant in the world!

Over the years, ICC has had the pleasure of hosting many of the chefs and restaurants on the Worlds 50 Best Lists for demonstrations at the school. We’d like to send our congratulations to Chef Virgilio Martínez, Chef/Owner of No. 6 restaurant Central in Peru, Chef Rubens Salfer, Head Chef of Alex Atala’s No. 54 restaurant D.O.M in Brazil, Chef Manish Mehrotra, Chef/Owner of No. 60 restaurant Indian Accent in India, and Chef Ángel León, Chef/Owner of No. 94 restaurant Aponiente in Spain, .

Additionally, the publication also includes the top 51-100 restaurants. This year, in a surprise twist, the list was expanded to include restaurants 101-120 to celebrated sponsor San Pellegrino’s 120th anniversary!

Below, check out the alumni who were named to the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list for 2019!

No.2 Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark

Kevin Jeung, Chef of Research and Production, The Fermentation Lab, Professional Culinary Arts ’10

No. 28 Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY

Dan Barber, Chef/Owner, Professional Culinary Arts ’94

No. 47 Benu, San Francisco, CA

Lauren Reed, Pastry Chef de Partie, Professional Pastry Arts ’11

No. 70 Saison, San Francisco, CA

Joshua Skenes, Founder, Professional Culinary Arts ‘01

No. 76 Momofuku Ko, New York, NY

David Chang, Owner, Professional Culinary Arts ‘04

No. 115 Per Se, New York, NY

Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef, Professional Pastry Arts ‘07

No. 119 Atomix, New York, NY

Jhonel Faelnar, Advanced Sommelier, Wine Director & Sommelier, Intensive Sommelier Training ‘14

off the vine: uncorking today's trends in wine

Off The Vine: Uncorking Today’s Trends in Wine

OFF THE VINE, brought to you by the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, is a series of tastings, discussion panels and networking events designed to support wine professionals in the beverage industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.

DISCOVER THE EMERGING TRENDS CREATING A BUZZ IN WINE

Wednesday, May 8th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

The world of wine is constantly evolving!  While rich with history and often rooted in ancient tradition, wine is anything but static. This multi-billion dollar business continues to change, challenging established, and aspiring, wine professionals to stay on the cutting edge of today’s trends and rising regions.

Join us for a lively conversation exploring a range of emerging trends creating buzz in the wine industry today. Elizabeth Smith, Wine Program Coordinator at ICC, will be joined by two of NYC’s top sommelier talents—Master Sommelier Alexander La Pratt and Advanced Sommelier Theo Lieberman—to get their insight on what’s in vogue, what’s here to stay and what’s just a fad. We’ll talk about everything from the rise of sparkling, natural & orange wines and indigenous grapes, to the effects of climate change and changes in consumer behavior. Plus, hear predictions from experts at the forefront of the industry on the future of these trends and what’s to come! Come with your questions—there will be an open Q&A with the panelists following the discussion, and the opportunity to network with other professionals. Don’t miss this chance to discover how today’s hot topics are evolving and how you can utilize them to your advantage on the floor, in sales, and more.

Looking to break into the industry? You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about how ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program can help you pursue your wine career.

Light refreshments will be provided.

MODERATOR

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith, Certified Sommelier, ICC Wine Program Coordinator

Elizabeth Smith is the Wine Program Coordinator at ICC, where she assists in running the Intensive Sommelier Training program and coordinates the Court of Master Sommeliers AmericasTM Introductory and Certified Exams.  She also teaches ICC’s introductory wine classes, and organizes extracurricular wine lectures and tastings.

Elizabeth began her career at Food & Wine magazine, and spent 8 years in various sales, marketing, and business insights roles at F&W and American Express.  In 2016 she decided to take her love of wine to the next level, graduating ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program, followed by a happy year at Astor Wines and Spirits.  Elizabeth is a CMS Certified Sommelier and is currently pursuing her WSET Diploma in Wine.

She is a passionate lover of wine and food, and documents her culinary adventures on Instagram @in_vino_glorias.

PANELISTS

Theo
Theo Lieberman, Advanced Sommelier
Head Sommelier, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Theo Lieberman has worked in the New York City food and wine business for nearly a decade. Beginning in the cocktail industry, Theo worked alongside Sasha Petraske at Milk & Honey, and then went on to become the Head Bartender and General Manager. He then moved on to serve as Head Bartender at Eleven Madison Park.

While working in fine dining, he discovered a deep love of fine wine, which he has continued to pursue as the Head Sommelier of Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. He has been named one of America’s “Best New Sommeliers” by Wine & Spirits Magazine as well as Zagat’s “30 under 30.” He is the Co-Founder of Thunder Mountain Consulting and is currently pursuing the Master Sommelier Diploma through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

alex lapratt
Alexander LaPratt, Master Sommelier
Beverage Director & Co-Owner at The Atrium, ICC Intensive Sommelier Training Instructor

While many sommeliers have paid their dues as waiters or captains, few have donned a chef’s jacket in a professional kitchen. Alexander LaPratt is an exception. No stranger to working with renowned chefs dedicated to the quality of their restaurants’ wine cellar and service, Alexander has held positions as Chef Sommelier for renowned Chef Jean-Georges; Sommelier for Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin; Head Sommelier at Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne; and the first ever Cellar Sommelier at Thomas Keller’s renowned French Laundry. In 2014, Alexander then went on to become the 217th person to ever pass the coveted Master Sommelier exam. Today, Alexander is co-owner and Beverage Director of Atrium DUMBO and Beasts & Bottles, and an adjunct instructor for the International Culinary Center’s Intensive Sommelier Training program.

Throughout his career, he’s received many accolades for his achievements including the title of “Best Sommelier in America” at the 2011 American Sommelier Association competition; 2nd overall in the 2011 Chaine des Rôtisseurs Best Young Sommelier National Finals; winner of the 2nd Annual StarChefs Somm Slam; Wine & Spirits Magazine “Best New Sommelier 2011”; and represented the United States of America in the 2013 Best Sommelier of the World Competition in Tokyo, Japan. Read Alex’s full bio here.

Off the Vine: Careers in Wine

How to Jump-start Your Career in Wine

OFF THE VINE, brought to you by the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, is a series of tastings, discussion panels and networking events designed to support wine professionals in the beverage industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.

The wine and beverage industry is dynamic & diverse, and offers many opportunities to build an exciting career—with options that suit different backgrounds, personalities and lifestyles. For those who are seriously considering a career in the wine industry, the possibilities are endless.

This month, we gathered for a dynamic panel discussion with Slim Mello, Head Sommelier at the Mandarin Oriental; Michele Thomas, Assistant Manager and Buyer at Greene Grape Wine & Spirits; Patricia Alazraki, Brand Manager for Monsieur Touton; and Cristina Coari, Wine Education and Press Manager for Vias Imports.

Together, we explored topics like career paths, hiring practices, qualities that employers seek and the paths that each panelist took to get to where they are today. Below, learn what our panelists said about translating skill sets, building your network, hiring practices, and salary expectations!

How can my skills translate to the wine industry?

wineWhen people consider changing careers to enter the wine industry, they are often worried that their skills won’t translate to wine. It’s intimidating to think about starting a new career at any point in your life, but if you share a passion for wine, you’ll fit right in to this new industry.

Your resume doesn’t always have to be perfectly polished—many of your previous work experiences can be translated into the skills needed to pursue the wine career of your dreams. So what are some of the skill sets that you can utilize in your future wine career?

For starters, a desire to learn, listen and study are all very helpful. Pursuing your wine education requires a dedication to study. Even as a professional, you’ll find it important to continue to learn about new wines, taste new producers, etc. Previous front of house or service experience is a plus, as well as any sales background. Being a people person and feeling comfortable speaking with others is very important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—being able to read a room and help identify what someone wants is not a small task. Make sure you can talk about your previous experiences and apply them to what you want to do in the future. Use your qualifications as leverage and know that all experience is good experience!

How do I build my network?

Building your network is key in any industry, especially within the tight-knit community of wine. If you want to be a part of this community, you have to put yourself in the position to meet people. Attend a tasting event. Frequent industry meet-ups. Reach out to a professional contact on social media. Making a connection, even through social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can introduce you to new people who can become great resources in this business.

Panelist Patricia Alazraki, ICC alumna and Brand Manager of Monsieur Touton, found her current job through a friend’s social media post on Facebook. After reaching out to a mutual friend and asking to get coffee to learn from her expertise, her new contact ended up offering her a job. Never be afraid to reach out to someone already working in the industry or at a company you want to work for—more often than not, they are more than willing to help in any way that they can.

Speaking of social media, use your channels to build your own wine presence. Demonstrate your knowledge of wine by posting tasting notes and using popular wine hashtags. You never know who might reach out to you!

What do hiring managers look for when interviewing?

wine pouredAlthough a resume is important in any interview, all of our panelists—who are hiring managers themselves—agreed that two of the most important skills you can bring to your interview are not actually on your resume. Passion and people skills are integral to how you sell yourself in any interview. By bringing your passion for wine to the forefront of your interview, you’ll show that you’re able to connect with customers and consumers.

Interactions that you have in your interview are a good indicator for how you will interact with your customers. You have to be able to carry a conversation and learn about someone’s interests so that you can recommend the right wine to them and have them coming back for more.

What can I expect for my salary?

Like any industry, salaries in wine vary greatly. According to our panelists, who all have years of combined experience, you can expect to start at around $15-$20 while working in retail. Then, anywhere from $25,000-$50,000 is a great ballpark when you begin in a restaurant, not including what you’ll make in tips! From there, Head Sommeliers can make $70,000+ with experience, higher level certifications and percentages of monthly sales or tips. Brand Ambassadors can make anywhere in the $60,000-$90,000 range and added sales commission can increase salary.

Want to learn more about how ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program can help you pursue your wine career? Check out our next Off the Vine panel in April!

Off the Vine: Careers in Wine

Off The Vine: Careers in Wine

OFF THE VINE, brought to you by the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, is a series of tastings, discussion panels and networking events designed to support wine professionals in the beverage industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.

RESTAURANT SERVICE? DISTRIBUTION? MEDIA? WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU.

Thursday, February 28th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

Find out where you fit in the wine industry during a panel discussion with industry professionals at ICC!

The wine and beverage industry is dynamic & diverse, and offers many opportunities to build an exciting career—with options that suit different backgrounds, personalities and lifestyles. For those who are seriously considering a career in the wine industry, the possibilities are endless.

Elizabeth Smith, the Wine Program Coordinator at ICC, will moderate a panel of professionals representing the diverse avenues available to wine career seekers including distribution, restaurants, media and more. Together, we’ll explore topics such as career paths to explore, hiring practices, qualities that employers seek and the paths that each panelist took to get to where they are today. Come with your questions—there will be an open Q&A with the panelists following the discussion! Plus you’ll have the opportunity to network and learn more about how ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program can help you pursue your wine career.

Light refreshments will be provided.

MODERATOR

Elizabeth Smith, Certified Sommelier, ICC Wine Program Coordinator

Elizabeth Smith is the Wine Program Coordinator at ICC, where she assists in running the Intensive Sommelier Training program and coordinates the Court of Master Sommeliers AmericasTM Introductory and Certified Exams.  She also teaches ICC’s introductory wine classes, and organizes extracurricular wine lectures and tastings.

Elizabeth began her career at Food & Wine magazine, and spent 8 years in various sales, marketing, and business insights roles at F&W and American Express.  In 2016 she decided to take her love of wine to the next level, graduating ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program, followed by a happy year at Astor Wines and Spirits.  Elizabeth is a CMS Certified Sommelier and is currently pursuing her WSET Diploma in Wine.

She is a passionate lover of wine and food, and documents her culinary adventures on Instagram @in_vino_glorias.

PANELISTS

slim
Slim Mello, Certified Sommelier
Head Sommelier at The Mandarin Oriental | ICC Alumnus

Slim started his hospitality career at ICC (International Culinary Center) in New York with the Intensive Sommelier Training program under the instruction of Master Sommelier, Scott Carney.  In the same year, he was granted the Walter Clore Scholarship at the Court of Master Sommeliers certified examination for achieving the highest score in NYC.

In 2016,  Slim began his work at Mandarin Oriental NYC with the Internship program under the mentorship of the Master Sommelier Laura Williamson. In 2017 proceeding the internship he became the Sommelier at Asiate Restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental.

During this exciting learning process, Slim was able to expand  his knowledge at the WSET level 3 course. As well as becoming a certified Sherry Wine Specialist with the House of Lustau in 2018.

Currently, Slim resides at Mandarin Oriental as the Head Sommelier taking on new challenges that will allow him to achieve the next level on his educational journey.

michelle
Michele Thomas, Certified Sommelier
Assistant Manager and Buyer, Greene Grape Wine & Spirits, Writer & Educator | ICC Alumna

Michele Thomas is the assistant manager and buyer for Greene Grape Wine & Spirits, located in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene, neighborhood, and a writer, editor, and educator with deep roots in food, wine, and publishing. A certified sommelier (IST ’15) and former executive editor for curriculum at the International Culinary Center, she is co-author of Culinary Careers for Dummies (Wiley), and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Edible Brooklyn, and Activist Philanthropist. She has also consulted for several food and hospitality companies, including Garnish Global Studio and Gumbo Bros, and documents her varying adventures in food, wine and culture on Instagram as @Bedstuysomm.

Patricia
Patricia Alazraki
Brand Manager, Monsieur Touton | ICC Alumna

Patricia was born in Uruguay and lived a life outside the wine world until her late 20s.

She initially pursued a career in Psychology and Culinary Arts and learned from working at her family’s food import business about sales, distribution and marketing. It wasn’t until 2016 that she decided to make a career change and move towards wine.

She is an alumni of the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC. Later on she took on an apprenticeship at Wine and Spirits Magazine, and moved to Bordeaux where she pursued a Master in Wine and Spirits Management. In Bordeaux she worked in wine tourism and education for visitors from around the world. She recently moved back to Brooklyn, NY and took on the position as US Brand Ambassador for a selective group of Bordeaux wine makers. You might find her waking around Prospect Park every morning with her yellow lab, her second passion after wine.

Cristina
Cristina Coari
Wine Education and Press Manager, Vias Imports

Cristina Coari is a native Italian from Gorizia in Northeast Italy. She joined the Vias Imports Marketing Team in 2014, and today she is especially involved in wine education projects and media/public relations.

Cristina received Master Sommelier status from AIS, the Italian Sommelier Association, in collaboration with ALMA, La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana. Prior to that, she worked in communications at Marco Felluga winery in Italy and was an intern at Domaine Select Wine Estates in New York.

Prosecco

DUELING BUBBLES: Prosecco ConVal Workshop with Alan Tardi

The two most popular sparkling wine categories in the world today are undoubtedly Champagne and Prosecco. Despite fundamental differences in image, production, process and price, the two bubblies have — surprisingly — much in common, such as their origin, history and evolutionary development of these otherwise different wines.

Monday, October 15th | 3:00-5:00pm
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St, 5th Floor | New York, NY 10013

Cost: $25 per person

*Must be at least 21 years of age and an ICC Intensive Sommelier Training Student, Graduate, or Industry Professional*

 

EVENT DETAILS

Join us for a special workshop and tasting with Alan Tardi, award-winning wine author, comparing Champagne and Prosecco—noting the obvious differences, while focusing on the many fundamental aspects the two wines have in common. Through the tasting we’ll clarify what makes Champagne and Prosecco essentially unique categories, while also showcasing the commonalities in their individual trajectories. We’ll also showcase the surprisingly diverse and complex terroir of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene area and the many different typologies within the appellation. In the end, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of both wines, and the nature of sparkling wine in general.

Some of the wines we’ll taste will be coming directly from Italy for this event, including the sneak preview of a brand-new soon-to-be-released prosecco with super-extended lees aging in autoclave.

Wines tasted will be focused on uncommon prosecchi including:

  • Still prosecco without bubbles
  • Bottle re-fermented prosecco
  • Prosecco with extended lees ageing
  • Single village and/or single vineyard prosseco from a variety of different terroirs
  • Proseccos in a variety of residual sugar levels

Examples of corresponding Champagnes will be noted, but not tasted.

Who is Alan Tardi?

AlanAlan Tardi initially became interested in wine while working as a cook and chef in some of New York’s finest establishments (Chantarelle, Lafayette, Le Madri). After opening his own restaurant in New York City in 1992, Alan began sitting in on panel tastings at the nearby offices of Wine and Spirits and eventually began writing for the magazine. In 2003, Alan moved to the village of Castiglione Falletto in the heart of the Barolo region in Piemonte, Italy, where he spent several years working in the surrounding vineyards and wineries through all phases of the growing and production process, an experience which completely changed his perspective on wine. His first book, ‘Romancing the Vine: Life, Love and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo’ (St Martins Press, 2006) won a James Beard Award for Best Wine and Spirits Book of 2006. His new book, “Champagne, Uncorked: The House of Krug and the Timeless Allure of the World’s Most Celebrated Drink” (Hachette 2016) won a Gourmand Best in the World Award in the French Wine category. Alan currently divides his time between New York and Castiglione Falletto.

Picture

Boost Your Food Business: Hosted by Instagram

Learn the tips, tricks and information that everyone wants to know directly from Instagram in an afternoon of hands-on workshops, presentations & panel discussions.

With 200 Million+ Instagrammers visiting at least one Business Profile a day, and 60% of users saying they discover new products on Instagram, it’s no wonder that Instagram has become a key tool for brands & businesses to reach new & existing audiences. So what does it take to harness the power of Instagram to promote your restaurant or food business? Come to our FREE workshop to find out!

RSVP to join us for this exclusive event!

Thursday August 30th | 3:30-5:30pm
 3:30 pm-5:30 pm
ICC Ampitheater
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor | NYC

 

*SOLD OUT* To join the waitlist, please email events@culinarycenter.com.
We will contact you if a seat becomes available.

EVENT AGENDA

101 COURSE

 

201 COURSE

 

HANDS ON

 

PANEL

Food Passions & Social Media: Learn from the Instagram team why food & social media are a powerful match, as well as how to get started

From Discovery to Action: Learn from the Instagram team advanced tips for how to drive new or existing customers into your restaurant, cafe, or other business establishment

Stories School: The Instagram team will walk through an interactive exercise on how to create compelling stories content that inspires customer action

Examples and Q&A: 4 successful culinary establishments will explain their unique social media journeys, and then open up to audience questions

PANELISTS

Mike Bronfin

Product Marketing, Instagram Local Team

• Worked on launching Business Profiles, Insights, Direct features for Businesses, Transactions
• Previously at Twitter and Boston Consulting Group

Gemmy Tsai

 Product Management, Instagram Local Team

• Worked on Instagram Business Profiles and Transactions
• Previously at OpenTable and Hired

Aishwarya Bhake

 Product Marketing, Instagram Local Team

• Worked on Instagram Business and Influencer Legitimacy
• Previously at BloomReach, ESPN and Walt Disney