Australia’s Orlando Marzo Named World’s Best Bartender

Orlando Marzo, from Melbourne’s acclaimed Lûmé restaurant, has been named

Orlando Marzo, from Melbourne’s acclaimed Lûmé restaurant, has been named the world’s best bartender by the largest global bartending competition, WORLD CLASS Global Bartender of the Year 2018.

Orlando competed against over 10,000 bartenders from every corner of the globe.  The competition lasted six months, with over one hundred challenges and countless cocktails. It culminated in a four-day final, where 56 of the best bartenders in the industry battled it out in Berlin.

“Shaking it all the way to the top” was no mean feat for this bartender, his winning cocktails truly blew the judges away. Diageo Global Cocktailian and WORLD CLASS judge, Lauren Mote, said: “All the finalists brought their A game, but Orlando really was on another level. The Zacapa aperitif he made for the ‘Before and After’ challenge was one of the best I’ve ever tasted and the way he held his nerve in the ‘Cocktail Clash’ finale – for me, that’s the mark of a truly WORLD CLASS bartender.”

The standard this year was truly exceptional, but Orlando stood out as the best of the best. Armed with Diageo’s award-winning Reserve brands, he blew the judges away, taking sustainable bartending further than ever before in the Ketel One ‘Better Drinking’ challenge, and reigning supreme in the ‘Flavours of a Nation’ round with his innovative twist on the classic Johnnie Walker Black Label Highball. To seal the deal, he went head-to-head with his fellow competitors in the ‘Cocktail Clash’ Grand Finale and brought the house down with one show-stopping creation after another.

Orlando has an incredible year ahead of him – he will have the chance to travel the world as a Diageo representative, making bespoke drinks in exotic and far-flung locations and judging competitions. He will also join a roll call of the industry’s finest, becoming the 10th member of the WORLD CLASS Hall of Fame.

“I can’t believe it!” said Orlando. “Just being here, competing alongside the best bartenders in the world, judged by some of the most iconic names in the business was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but to actually win? I’m still in shock. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my amazing team back home – they’ve cheered me on every step of the way!”

Here is where you can find winning recipes from this year’s finalists:

http://www.theworldclassclub.com

Chef Interview:  Julien Asseo – Executive Chef Restaurant Guy Savoy Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Chef Julien Asseo –
Executive Chef Restaurant Guy Savoy Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Julien Asseo has achieved what most chefs can only dream of; throughout his career he has worked with renowned chefs Rick Moonen, Joel Robuchon, and Guy Savoy.

After a tour of the kitchen and Krug Chef’s Table (private dining), I chatted with Chef Asseo in the beautiful setting of his restaurant’s dining room.

Julien grew up in Libourne, France on his parents’ vineyard. He earned his bachelor’s degree in culinary arts at Lycée Hôtelier de Gascogne.  Shortly after, he moved to Paris to work at La Fontain de Mars as commis to eventually chef de partie. A number of years later he decided to move to Los Angeles and got a position as a sous chef at the Rivera. In 2009 he moved to Las Vegas to work under renowned chefs Rick Moonen and Joel Robuchon. Julien joined Restaurant Guy Savoy in 2011 as a sous chef, advancing to chef de cuisine, a number of years later, and is now hold the position as Executive Chef. He has never looked back.

Liz Palmer:     What influenced you to become a chef?

Julien Asseo: I loved to eat from a young age – I was always attracted to food.
Especially when my mom used to cook a big meal every day. I first realized when I was 15 years old; I followed my head and moved back to France (from California) and went to cooking school Lycée Hôtelier de Gascogne, Bordeaux. I never stopped my passion, right after I graduated I moved to Paris.

Liz Palmer:     Do you still have time to experiment?

Julien Asseo:  Yes, I’m currently working on a new idea that came from a childhood memory, sweet breads and milk skin (pairing these together).

I also love travelling and reading – I collect lots of books to learn and discover new things.

Liz Palmer:     What are the current restaurant trends in Las Vegas?

Julien Asseo: The big movement now is simplicity – going back to roots, like
heirloom vegetables. I also strive for the best food possible – the best ingredients.
I try to stay local – at least 90% of the vegetables are local.  The meat comes from Texas, the fish from the Atlantic.

You have to respect food especially the farmer and never underestimate a vegetable.

For me it’s more of a personal touch and being more honest in my cooking.

Liz Palmer:     Who have been your mentors?

Julien Asseo: It’s hard to say.  I worked for Rick Moonen and Joel Robuchon and learned a lot.  I last trained under Guy Savoy who most inspired me on my career. He’s a very good chef, in every aspect from pleasing guests, being the best host, to cooking.  I learned a lot from him on fine dining.

Liz Palmer:     Champagne and food Pairing – what are your favorites?

Julien Asseo: Champagne brut is best to drink with caviar from Iran (they are make the best pairing).  Also, crab, and other sea food that have briny flavors like oysters. Rose Champagne is best to drink when you eat octopus, meat and fish dishes, seafood that is robust and foods that have earthy flavors (meats and fish from the earth and sea).

Liz Palmer:     What’s next for you?

Julien Asseo: I’m going to work hard and get that third star (Michelin).  Michelin stopped coming in 2009 when we had two stars.  We hope they are coming back after nine years.

I would like to eventually go back to California and open a restaurant, in the countryside – close to the ocean and mountains with great farm great ingredients.  It will be under my name – it’s my dream.

Liz Palmer

Restaurant Guy Savoy
Caesars
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S,
Las Vegas, NV

https://www.caesars.com

Krug Chef’s Table
Restaurant Guy Savoy Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Guy Savoy, Las Vegas, Liz Palmer

 

Women in Wine: Interview with Ann Sperling, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture, Southbrook Vineyards – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

ann sperling-21

This week, I spotlight Ann Sperling, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture at Southbrook Vineyards – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada.
Ann Sperling is arguably leading the charge on organic and biodynamic viticulture in Canada. She has become Canada’s foremost authority.

She has implemented organic certification at Malivoire’s Moira Vineyard (Beamsville) in 1999; has transitioned Southbrook Vineyards to biodynamic viticulture and winemaking in 2006, with Pro-Cert and Demeter certification in 2008.

Ann has also applied these concepts to various International projects including Sperling Vineyards (British Columbia) and Versado Wines (Mendoza).

Liz Palmer:
You have been Southbrook Vineyards’ Director of Winemaking and Viticulture since 2006 – what have been the highlights during your tenure there?

Ann Sperling:
There have been many milestones – we are Canada’s first Demeter vineyard, certified in 2008; also being granted Pro-Cert Organics (previously OC/PRO Canada Organic); and in 2012 we were recognized as “Winery of the Year” by InterVin International Wine Awards.

Liz Palmer:
When did you first become involved in organic and biodynamic practices?

Ann Sperling:
I grew up in Okanagan on the Sperling family farm that has been part of the family since my great grandparents, in the 1860’s. This is where I got my start.

In the early 1980’s I started working closely with growers and vineyard managers to make wines, and late in 1995 in Niagara I worked on start-up projects like Malivoire Winery which started organically and eventually biodynamic practices. For the past ten years (at Southbrook) I’ve had a strong connection with the vineyard and the land.

Liz Palmer:
What has been your greatest challenge as a winemaker to make organic and biodynamic wine?

Ann Sperling:
There are two things ongoing – we have continually have small production (damaged vines and nasty winters); and
What really needs to be addressed is that we receive little or no financial support federally or provincially for organic and biodynamic farming.
We are all self-motivated and find solutions ourselves – this is a good reflection on our team! We are very happy to be a sample.
There are some ongoing developments with Niagara Collage – they have a good understanding of what we are trying to do.

Liz Palmer:
Are all the vineyards in Southbrook organic/biodynamic?

Ann Sperling:
Southbrook’s first 75 acres were certified by Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd. (then OC/PRO Canada) in 2008. Our entire 150-acre property is now certified organic, including the hay and our sheep. Southbrook currently has one Demeter-certified biodynamic 75-acre vineyard.

The last two winters were the worst for growers and the production was small.

What we have come out with for 2016 is not an organic wine, but a “Seriously Cool” label which is an entry level, offering offering Seriously Cool Red and White.

Liz Palmer:
What are some of the most common misconceptions about organic/biodynamic wine?

Ann Sperling:
Consumers are now eating, drinking and recognizing the benefits to a healthy lifestyle and they don’t resist reaching for these products (biodynamic and organic wines and foods). It’s been positive and there has been an increase in sales.

Liz Palmer:
Are you finding any challenges related to climate change and global warming?

Ann Sperling:
Its been difficult to manage the radical swings in temperatures; especially the last two winters in a row.

Liz Palmer:
How closely do you work with the vineyard manager and team?

Ann Sperling:
Being Southbrook’s Director of winemaking, I oversee 150 acres of farm animals, forest and vineyards. I work closely with Scott Jones (Vineyard Manager) to oversee the activities; to see that they meet the standards, with the purpose of making the best wine possible. We’ve been working together for ten years.

Liz Palmer:
What are your winemaking goals in the next year or two?

Ann Sperling:
I also manage a winery with my sister, her husband and my niece in British Columbia; also own a small organic vineyard with my husband/winemaker, Peter Gamble in Mendoza. I’m looking at stylistically more age-able wine; producing clean fruit; watching current trends; creating elegant wines with more texture, and whole-cluster fermentation in all three locations.

Liz Palmer:
How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Ann Sperling:
I don’t…. but, I do have some flexibility at Southbrook. With travelling to three different places my children, and husband Peter Gamble understand my work. My husband works in the same industry – we help each other out and we are both passionate in what we do.

Liz Palmer:
What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career in wine?

Ann Sperling:
Women have always been involved in the wine industry and they have had many challenges along the way. Nowadays women have opportunities at every level: winemaker; managing a vineyard; and education. There are lots of opportunities with lots of like-minded people. You do have to put in lots of time and just wait for the right opportunity to advance to the next level in your career!


www.southbrook.com
@SouthbrookWine

Southbrook Vineyards
581 Niagara Stone Road, RR4
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
L0S 1J0 Canada

Interview with: Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, Director of Winemaking at La Crema Winery – Sonoma, California [Women in Wine Business]

elizabeth-grant-douglasThis week, I spotlight Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, Director of Winemaking at La Crema Winery – Sonoma, California.

About La Crema Winery

La Crema was founded in 1979 as La Crema Viñera or “Best of the Vine.”

It’s a Jackson Family winery and is located outside of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. For over 35 years, the family-owned winery focused exclusively on cool-climate coastal appellations. La Crema is currently leading the way on sustainable agriculture, with early certification as a sustainable winegrower, and being named and recognized as “The Green Company of the Year” by the beverage industry.

About Elizabeth Grant-Douglas

Elizabeth’s interest in winemaking grew out of an early passion when she gained her initial experience alongside her parents, who were hobby winemakers, in the basement of their Niagara Falls home.

Now Director of Winemaking at La Crema, Elizabeth’s unique training in cool-climate oenology has given her the patience and practice required to produce award-winning Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir varietals.

Initially studying Economics at the University of Waterloo, Elizabeth shifted her career studies to Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture program.

“Brock had just announced  the program I was finishing my Economics degree”

“I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do—I still can’t!”

Liz Palmer: 
You joined La Crema as an enologist in 2001, became Winemaker in 2010, and promoted to Director of Winemaking in 2013 – what have the highlights been during your tenure?

Elizabeth Grant-Douglas:
Watching the evolution of the brand from 2010 to now, and adding new vineyards in Oregon. The wines have also become more interesting and more complex – very exciting! I’ve been with La Crema for fifteen years and it never gets dull.

Liz Palmer:  
How closely do you work with the vineyard manager and team?

Elizabeth Grant-Douglas:
I manage five teams with a total of eight.  I work with the teams from pruning to harvest by checking the quality of the grapes and tasting the blends – they all provide me with their feedback.

Liz Palmer:
La Crema Winery has integrated some environmentally-sustainable practices. Can you tell me about this?

Elizabeth Grant-Douglas:
We are very dedicated to sustainability. This is a family business and we look what is best for next generation, in the long term.  We try to be as sustainable as possible in every phase of production—not only in the vineyard, but in the winery. We have analyzed all our procedures, and we’re working to be 100 percent sustainable.

Liz Palmer: 
Are you finding any challenges related to climate change and global warming?

Elizabeth Grant-Douglas:
We are looking at this.  There is no consistency – early rain – rain during bloom – there is no pattern.

Liz Palmer: 
What are your winemaking goals in the next year or two?

Elizabeth Grant-Douglas:
This year we are looking to reveal our first “sparkling wine” from Oregon – I’m really excited about this! It will be brut and I’m really looking forward to it.

Liz Palmer:
I’d like to ask you about the evolving role of women in the wine world. Historically, women have encountered resistance and prejudice when they enter the wine industry?

I’ve had no issues – my generation have been very fortunate as the trail blazers have paved the way.

I work with a lot of other female winemakers – we work well together.

Liz Palmer:
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

Elizabeth Grant-Douglas:
Barbara Banke, the Chairman & Proprietor of Jackson Family Wines – she supports sustainability and has created a company for families.

Liz Palmer:
How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Elizabeth Grant-Douglas:
During the harvest – I make sure I have family dinners with my son and and husband. I take my son with me on weekends into the vineyards – he actually likes grapes!

Liz Palmer:
What is your advice for other young women entrepreneurs?

Elizabeth Grant-Douglas:
Travel as much as possible earlier on in your career.  Be fearless – look to find something that excites you!

www.LaCrema.com

 

My Interview with: Olga Bussinello, Director, Consorzio Valpolicella – Italy [Women in Wine Business]

March 8th is International Women’s Day and is a day to celebrate women’s achievements, past and present. March is also women’s history month, a time to note women in history, but also women making history.

Here is my interview with one such woman, Ms Olga Bussinello, the Managing Director of the Consortium of Valpolicella wine region.

The Consortium of Valpolicella was founded in 1924 and includes the growers, producers and bottlers and regulates every aspect of cultivation and winemaking, up to promotion. This great red wine from Verona has shown a positive trend at the guidance of Ms. Bussinello. At year end 2015 it reached a turnover of 310 million euros (a 6% increase over the previous year); and where six out of ten bottles are exported.

Q   How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

A   I have had very diverse yet complementary life and work experiences. After graduating in law I worked in both public bodies and in private companies, changing workplaces and cities up until six years ago when I began my adventure as Director of the Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella. The flexibility and courage to understand when my career path had to change direction are what have made me grow.

Q   How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Consorzio Valpolicella?

A   Mainly the period I spent working in the world of agricultural associations in Rome where I got to comprehend the complexity of the relations among the various players in a production chain. Even if there are common goals, drawing together the farming world and the industrial sector is extremely difficult.

Q   What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Consorzio Valpolicella?

A   While the wines have become famous by now, instead, Valpolicella—as in the production area—is not very well known as a rural landscape. Having people get to know its genuine beauty and the history of its places is a very important challenge. Naturally, even for that which concerns the wines you have to work to keep the demand and the appeal of Amarone and the other products of the Valpolicella high.

Q   How do you maintain a work/life balance?

A   You have to reserve the same amount of attention and sensibility to work and family to establish your daily priorities. Work, just like family, is a creature and in a certain sense we have to take care of it. I do owe a lot to my husband who has always supported me and taken my place with my daughters so that I could be relaxed as I dealt with more difficult engagements.

Q   What do you think are the biggest issues for women in the wine industry?

A   The same as in the other industries: the difficulty of covering roles that historically belong to men, the stress of having to demonstrate that you’re always perfect, the inability to form a team with other women. This is the generation which, first and foremost, has to fight stereotypes and ancestral insecurities to prepare the way for the generations to come.

Q   Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

A   Many, citing just a few would be doing a disservice to the others. I like women who focus in well on their role and therefore manage to work in a team. The individualism that has to do with being used to facing many things alone can become a limitation in one’s personal and career growth path.

Q   What do you want Consorzio Valpolicella to accomplish over the next year?

A   I would like to fine-tune a format of wine and territory presentation that I am already working on, which brings out the differences between the terroirs and company styles.

Q   What do you love most about your position as Director for Consorzio Valpolicella?

A   The relationship with the member companies, going to the vineyards and the wineries, understanding the history of each and building new projects with them.

Q   What is your advice for other women entrepreneurs?

A   Don’t ever lose your enthusiasm for your work and think of each difficulty as a challenge that will help you grow

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