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Maria Valetta is a media personality, wine and spirits educator, food, travel and hospitality writer, food and wine judge, event host and content creator in the food and beverage sector. Maria is a graduate of the prestigious Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) based out of London England, where she received her diploma in Wine & Spirits (DWS). She is also a Certified Sommelier (CS) through the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS), and a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators (SWE). She is a current member of the Guild of Sommeliers and the Society of Wine Educators. Maria discovered her interest in wine through her love of food, claiming that wine is the world's most complicated "food". She received her food education cooking alongside famous chefs, and from the influence of her mother (an excellent home cook and avid fan of Julia Child). Maria travels extensively around the world focusing on the local culture, wine regions, and epicurean arts. Her approach to wine appreciation is always fun, yet highly educational, with her specialty being the art of food and wine pairing. Her one rule when it comes to wine is "drink what you love". Maria's passion for all things food and wine and undeniable charm lead to linear and streaming media where she showcases her talents as an online media host, educator, writer and co-creator. Some of her past work includes the two popular web-series for The Philadelphia Inquirer's former website Philly.com: "Uncorked" (a wine education show), and "The Philly Dish" (a behind-the-scenes restaurant show). Today you can find her streaming online and on TV showing off her skills in kitchens cooking alongside top chefs while pairing wine with their food, as one of the hosts of the nationally syndicated television cooking show that reaches 75 million households "The Chef's Kitchen".
Grace Hood is a certified sommelier with over a decade of experience in the wine industry. In the past 15 years, she has worked in every facet of the industry, giving her a wide range of wine knowledge, as well as domestic and international hospitality experience. All starting with a summer job during college pouring in a tasting room in New York, her career has taken her all over the country and the world; the Michelin star countertops of Manhattan, the white linen tablecloths of Texas, the Pacific North West wineries of Oregon and Washington, the world-premiere cellars of Napa Valley, the bustling madness of Ho Chi Minh City, the sun drench vineyards of Santa Barbara and the snow-capped mountaintops of Vail and Montana. She also has been running her own freelance sommelier project, Wines with Grace, since 2014, serving as an educator and event coordinator for corporate and private clients, as well as ambassador and consultant for boutique wine brands. On top of her experience in wine, she has spent more than half of her life in the events and hospitality industry, catering high-end events in the Hamptons during high school and moving into corporate events in college. She has been a mixologist for countless events in the Southern California area, and brings an expert level of knowledge in all things food, beverage and event coordination.
Michaela Quinlan is an Advanced Sommelier with over 12 years in the wine industry. Michaela began her wine career in Northern, VA where she shared her time as a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor and working in local family-run wineries and tasting rooms. After experience in wine retail and serving as Sommelier for local restaurants, Michaela returned to New England to continue her wine experience in importing and completing the WSET Advanced Level 3.
After nearly 17 years in the service industry, Alexis decided to specialize and study wine in 2020. The onset of Covid 19 and subsequent lockdown provided an undisrupted opportunity to dive headlong into her studies, earning the WSET certifications of Level 2 With Distinction, Level 3 Advanced With Distinction and Introductory Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Alexis is currently studying for her French Wine Scholar certification. In addition to giving small-group private wine classes and tastings, she is the acting Wine Director/Sommelier for a restaurant with a wine list of over 350 bottles. Her focus in study - and taste preference - are the Wines of Central Europe - France, Germany, Austria, and Northern Italy. Her other interests include history, classic literature, travel, and cooking. Her dream job is to direct the wine program at a health resort in the Austrian Alps.
Wine and spirits authority, writer, educator and raconteur Anthony Giglio has motivated countless imbibers to trust their own tastes and relax the rules. He has appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today Show, Food Network, CNBC, and FOX Business News and been invited to speak at food and wine festivals and events around the world. Currently serving as wine reporter for CBS News Radio, Anthony’s writing has been featured in publications like New York Magazine, Esquire, Every Day With Rachel Ray, Travel + Leisure, and more. He is the Wine Director for the American Express Centurion Global Lounge Networks, a longtime Contributing Editor to Food & Wine Magazine, and the author of 11 books on wine, cocktails and travel, including the annual Food & Wine Wine Guide. Known for his entertaining anecdotes as much as for his wine and spirits expertise, Anthony has twice been invited to speak at The Moth, the Peabody Award-winning not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, and has used his gift of gab as a charity auctioneer for organizations like Cancer Care. From his New Jersey Italian roots, Anthony most loves wine for the way it allows people to come together and spend a moment sharing the good life.
Grant grew up in a 1950s ranch house in the Napa countryside and was introduced to food and wine during his high school days working in catering. While working at Cardinale, a bottle of 2000 Howell Mountain Cabernet Franc changed the way he looked at wine, and his wine career took off. Grant is now a Certified Sommelier and holder of a WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits. Impressive wine creds aside, Grant is happiest sharing wines with those around him. “Whether you’re a guest, a loved one, or a friend," he says, “the person in front of me means the world to me, and I want everyone to feel just a bit more special when they leave than they did before our time together." When not diving into wine study, Grant spends his time cooking wine-inspired meals or drinking meal-inspired wines, and he starts every day with a morning run with his Formosan Mountain Dog, Luna.
Cecilia Bonet is a certified sommelier, half Argentinean and half Spanish, who has been living in Europe for five years, with the aim of continuing her training in the old world of wine. Her first stop was Italy, and then she moved to Ibiza to work with her todays mentor, Javier Perez Caballero, candidate for Master Sommelier, who has given her the confidence to start in the Court of Master Sommeliers program. Cecilia’s next step was participating as Head Sommelier in the opening of the fine dining restaurant VORO, two Michelin Stars, within the Park Hyatt Hotel Mallorca. And finally, after her time in Spain, she moved to end up working alongside the exceptional team of the iconic 67 Pall Mall Private Members Club in London, led by Ronan Sayburn MS.
Josh is Sommelier and former Maître D’ at Marcel, Ford Fry’s swanky ‘European-inspired’ steakhouse in the Westside Provisions District. Born in Boston, Josh began his career in hospitality at the renowned Boston Harbor Hotel and became hooked on fine food and beverage. After graduating from Boston University with a B.A. in Sociology, he relocated to Atlanta with his wife in 2010 and joined Ford Fry Restaurants at the opening of King + Duke in Buckhead in 2013. Since opening Marcel in 2015, Josh has been driven to share the breadth and beauty of French wine with guests, shining a spotlight on Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and the Rhône Valley as hotbeds for exciting grower-producers worthy of a place at the steakhouse table alongside the heavy hitters of Bordeaux and California. In addition, Marcel’s cocktail program, under Josh’s direction, focuses on ‘Mad Men’-era cocktails from the ‘50s and ‘60s updated with European ingredients. Marcel has been recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as one of ‘America’s Top 100 Wine Restaurants’ for two consecutive years.
Alissa Bica is a certified sommelier at the Los Angeles restaurant, 71 Above, as well as US tasting coordinator and contributing editor at Wine and Spirits magazine. Every day, she feels humbled that she was able to turn one of her greatest passions into a career. She lives for the “aha!” moments that her guests experience when they taste a Premiere Cru Chablis next to a Napa Chardonnay and appreciate the differences. Her musings on wine, culture, and memory have been published in Wine Enthusiast magazine, and she runs the popular blog, Off the Beaten Wine Path, where she explores rare grape varieties and what their perfect food pairs.
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