Maîtres d’Hôtel 2018

During the meals throughout the weekend, IPNC Maîtres d’Hôtel will share a selection of current and IPNC library wines with you. While there is always plenty of wine, there are usually no more than 12 bottles of any single wine. Those wines, which are small in quantity and high in demand, will be circulated among the tables by the Maîtres d’Hôtel, so that as many people as possible will have the chance to taste each wine. These individuals are distinguished sommeliers and wine directors who donate their time to ensure our guests experience the finest service. Our thanks to them for their outstanding efforts on behalf of this event.
Thank you to our 2018 Maître d’Hôtels for their sharing their time and endless knowledge of wine with us. You made the event sparkle.
JESSICA ENDSWORTH, ANGELA ESTATE (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel Captain

Jessica got her service start in her mother’s restaurant in St. Charles, MO. She worked in the St. Louis dining scene for chef Lisa Slay and in Chicago for chef Shawn McLain and at marquis wine spots: Webster’s Wine Bar and Hudson Club while she finished her degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. After a trip out West, she landed a position with Maysara winery under the direction of Jimi Brooks in 2004. She opened Peacock Wine Co. in 2005 (a small wineries brokerage) selling the business in 2009. She was then the Oregon portfolio manager for Moet-Hennessy. In 2012, she landed her current role as the GM for Angela Estate in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. She is the current marketing chair for the Willamette Valley Wineries Association marketing committee, an active educator and volunteers for many events and boards. She has achieved her CSW and WSET Level Three certifications.

BRYAN HILL, ÀMAURICE CELLARS (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel Captain

Bryan Hill was formally schooled in accounting and hotel management at Ohio State University. As General Manager and Wine Director at Seattle’s Campagne for four years, his keen interest in wine earned Campagne many accolades such as Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s “Restaurant Wine Award” in 1995 and the Wine Spectator “Award for Excellence” three years in a row. In addition, Gourmet magazine in 1997 named his wine program the “Best in Seattle”. Bryan demands gracious and intelligent service from his wait staff, which led to praise and recognition from publications such as Conde Naste, Esquire, The Atlantic, Gourmet magazine, Seattle Magazine, Northwest Best Places, and the Zagat Guide. As a previous co-owner of Brasa Restaurant, Bryan created a diverse, extensive wine list, which contributed greatly to Brasa being recognized by Food & Wine and Gourmet magazines as one of Seattle’s top tables in 2008. Since 2003, Bryan has been involved in the Wine Service at IPNC. Since 2013, he has been working with aMaurice Cellars as their Sales Manager. Owned by the Schafer family, aMaurice Cellars is located on the Upper Eastside of Walla Walla and produces 4000 cases of wine from their own vineyard and premium vineyards in the Columbia Valley.

JEFF LINDSAY-THORNSEN, W.T. VINTNERSRN74 (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel Captain 

Sommelier Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen’s passion for wine and fine cuisine has taken him around the world in pursuit of the ancient art and craft of winemaking. He has worked the harvest in Burgundy, New Zealand, Washington and Oregon. In 2007 Jeff took his passion to the next level founding WT Vintners and is currently crafting small lot, single vineyard wines in Woodinville, WA. Joining the team at RN74 Seattle and working with celebrated Wine Director Rajat Parr represents the next step in his pursuit of all things vine. Jeff has had the opportunity to work alongside several of the Pacific Northwest’s best chefs, restaurateurs, and sommeliers while honing his craft. His resume includes a laundry list of Seattle’s top restaurants in including Cascadia, and James Beard Award winning Lampreia and Café Juanita. Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen holds an “Advanced Sommelier Certification” from the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild. In 2008, he won the Pacific Northwest Super-Regional Best Young Sommelier Competition and competed as a finalist in the national competition hosted by La Chaine des Rotisseurs International Food & Wine Society. He is amidst the rigorous process that is the Master Sommelier examination.

SAVANNA RAY, ARGYLE WINERY (Dundee, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel Captain

Savanna began her love story with wine as a young woman in the restaurant business in Portland and received her pin with International Sommelier Guild in 2007. Over the years she has educated the next-generation of hopeful sommeliers in Portland and San Francisco and has been the Wine Director for many well-known Portland institutions including Wildwood and the RingSide Steakhouse. While growing up in Oregon, she has watched the wine culture and business grow up along-side her. In March of 2017 Savanna joined the team at Argyle winery because of Argyle’s commitment to the community and its influential participation in the Willamette Valley story…and the bubbles. Savanna is honored to serve her 12th year as a Maître d’Hôtel at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, with six of those serving on the Board of Directors. As lead captain she strives to maintain the most knowledgeable, hospitable and stylish team that has ever served this event.

DAWN SMITH, INN AT LANGLEY (Langley, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel Captain

As professionally trained chef, Dawn’s passion for wine emerged as a direct result of her experiences in the kitchen. The daughter of a chef mother, Dawn grew up in the restaurant business. While working as an instructor at a culinary college, she was given the opportunity to take wine classes and one class just led to another, and then another… Dawn has earned certifications from the International Sommelier Guild, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. She has worked as Assistant Wine Director at Canlis Restaurant in Seattle, Wine Director of three restaurants for the Heavy Restaurant Group in Bellevue, the Wine Director and General Manager at Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Lead Sommelier at Stoneburner Restaurant in Ballard, and as a Sommelier at John Howie Steak Restaurant. Having recently moved from Seattle to Whidbey Island, Dawn is excited to have joined the restaurant team at The Inn at Langley as their Sommelier and wine buyer.

KRISTEN YOUNG, JORY: AT THE ALLISON INN & SPA (Newberg, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel Captain

Kristen Young is the Sommelier at the Jory Restaurant at the Allison Inn & Spa. After moving to Seattle in 2001, she served at prominent Seattle restaurants such as Campagne and Nell’s, developing her passion for fine food and wine. Previous to her work at Bastille, Kristen was Director of Wine at Aqua by El Gaucho and opened Tilth Restaurant with chef Maria Hines, overseeing the wine program and front-of-house operations. Kristen holds oenophilic accreditations from both Court of Master Sommeliers and International Sommelier Guild, as well as a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from The University of Toledo. Young was named ‘Sommelier of the Year’ 2011 by the Washington State Wine Commission. Kristen is also proud to participate as part of the Sommelier team for both Taste Washington and the International Pinot Noir Celebration and is also a judge for Seattle Wine Awards.

VANESSA BAZZANI, BERGSTRÖM WINES (Newberg, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

A native New Yorker, Vanessa Bazzani found her way, albeit kicking and screaming, to Portland in 1994. Fortunately, her protestations were brief and she quickly fell in love with Oregon and all the Willamette Valley has to offer. Her love of wine grew out of a family affection for vintage zinfandels from Ridge Vineyards, which quickly evolved into a devotion to the mighty Pinot Noir grape. This passion was further honed during her time working under Tysan Pierce at the Heathman Hotel. As captain of the IPNC Ds, Tysan guided Vanessa into furthering her wine education with the International Sommelier Guild diploma program. Receiving her pin in 2005, her love affair with IPNC and all things wine was sealed. Vanessa joined the ranks of the IPNC wine service team in 2003, and 2018 finds Vanessa in her 15th vintage working for this outstanding event; you may even find her on the lawn celebrating her crystal anniversary with a bottle of Cristal. After years working in the Portland food and wine scene, Vanessa joined the family team at Bergström Wines as Hospitality Manager in 2014. She has since fallen in love with all things Bergström, biodynamic farming, and educating clients about the world-class Willamette Valley wine industry. Today, she stubbornly still lives in Portland, continuing her epicurean and oenological journey across the city and the Willamette Valley.

CARYN BENKE, AVA GENE’S (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Caryn is a born and raised Oregonian who grew up loving Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house and making a mess in the kitchen. Time living abroad in France further cemented her love for food, wine, and hospitality. Upon her return to the states, Caryn sought out a career in the restaurant industry to align her personal and professional interests. She had a sommelier diploma and teacher certification through the International Sommelier Guild and Advanced Sommelier Certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, which help her see the industry through a new lens. She previously served as Wine Educator for McMenamins, Wine and Beverage Director at Andina, Sommelier at Shiftdrinks, and Educator for the International Sommelier Guild. When not at Ava Gene’s, you can still find Caryn making a mess in her kitchen, this time one she has to clean up herself. This is Caryn’s fifth year participating as an IPNC Maître D’ and every year just gets better and better!

DEREK BIGHAM, NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES (Pacific Ocean, Hawaii)
Maître d’Hôtel

Derek was first intrigued by wine at the age of 19 living in Provence, France with a French host family. Upon returning to the states, still too young to legally drink, stuck his nose in a book and read about wine regions all over the world. The son of a family deeply ingrained in the restaurant world, hospitality came naturally to him. He really cut his teeth in Winter Park, Florida working as Assistant Beverage Director at LUMA on Park and Concentrics Hosptialty. There he began traveling to some of the great wine regions of the world and officially started Sommelier studies. After visiting the wine region of Rioja, Spain and falling in love with Tempranillo, he worked with Vibrant RIOJA in their national accounts marketing campaign and went on to work in luxury hotels such as Ritz-Carlton and Kimpton. Realizing Florida didn’t have much in the way of vineyards, transplanted to Portland, Oregon in 2009 to work in the Willamette Valley and the fabulous world of Pinot noir. Derek has recently accepted a job wth Norwegian Cruise Lines and is working on a ship in the Hawaiian Islands, with plans to transfer to the International Fleet and sail a little closer to european vineyards in the coming years.

JESSE BRANTLEY, FREELAND SPIRITS (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

A path to wine and beverage surfaced for Jesse Brantley as she worked the floors of steakhouses in central Texas to fund an Art History degree. Attempting to understand wine in the context of art, Jesse explores beverage as a cultural expression and connection to place. The love of hospitality and satisfaction of selecting the right bottle fueled a passion to always learn more. After years of study and service, tackling several wine certifications, Jesse acted as Beverage Director and General Manager of several restaurants. A growing interest in logistics to move a bottle from producer to table led to sales with a large distributor. Now, as Sales Director at Freeland Spirits in Portland, Jesse enthusiastically shares the distillery’s story, manages the tasting room and works to move blue bottles around the world!

GREG CANTU, RHONE STREET WINE CO. (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Greg discovered his love of wine while working at Tiramisu in Denver. There, he met Chef Simona Bonelli and formed a lifelong friendship and connection to food & wine. That led to a stint with Chef Bonelli in London, the then Executive Chef at The Ark, in Notting Hill. This put Greg at the helm of The Ark’s front of house.  Upon his return from London, Greg landed at Bistro Vendôme in Denver. This afforded him the chance to round out his wine experience with a focus on France. In 2006, Greg moved to Portland. Eventually, he took a job at Grüner. He quickly advanced to bar manager and ultimately took over the wine program, working to curate a list of Middle-Europe’s finest wine. He has recently opened his own distribution company, Rhône Street Wine Co., and produced a small amount of Rosé under the moniker Hooray For You!

ERICA CATUBIG, CANLIS (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel

Some see themselves as stewards of a family’s tradition. Other sommeliers are walking encyclopedias of a forgotten history. For Erica, the romance of wine is the echo of a childhood playing tag under rented tables and refilling ice buckets. Hospitality is in her blood. Raised in Connecticut, she studied medicine but was never too far from working at a restaurant. College moved her to Savannah, GA where her quest for wine knowledge began. Experimental wine and a yearning to be closer to home moved Erica to the Hudson Valley. From there, a chance meeting with a former chef convinced her that Washington was a promising place for wine. Currently on the wine team of Canlis in Seattle,WA. Certified sommelier, Walter Clore Scholarship Winner, Eater Young Gun 2015, WSET Diploma student.

TOM CHAMPINE, MONTINORE ESTATE (Newberg, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Tom has a rich wine background having worked as a sommelier, a wine buyer, and distributor. For the past 4 years Tom has managed national sales for Montinore Estate, located in Forest Grove, Oregon. When not on the road preaching the gospel of Pinot Noir and cool climate whites, Tom is usually entertaining friends or playing with his sweet Boston Terrier, Frances.

BEN DENTON, PURPLE CAFE & HEARTWOOD PROVISIONS (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel

Ben Denton has worked in the wine industry for the past ten  years as a server, sommelier, retail manager, sales representative, and cellar hand. Six years ago, he moved to Washington State to continue a career in the wine field. He currently works as a Sommelier for Purple Cafe & Wine Bar and Heartwood Provisions in downtown Seattle. He worked harvest at Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla in 2014, and passed his Advanced Sommelier Exam in early 2017.

STACEY GIBSON, PARK AVENUE FINE WINES (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

After receiving a degree in political science from Boston College and moving to Washington, DC, Stacey quickly realized that politics wasn’t going to be her life’s work. She packed up and moved to the New York City and started as a hostess at a restaurant in the Flatiron District. She loved learning more about food and wine and fell hard for the energy and pace of the restaurant floor. After managing the wine list at Momofuku Ma Peche, she moved on to Corkbuzz Wine Studio under the mentorship of Master Sommelier Laura Maniec. At Corkbuzz, she taught classes and managed the staff training program. In 2013, she moved to Portland, OR to start a family and be closer to the Willamette Valley. After managing several wine lists in the city, including for the Bruce Carey Restaurant Group and The Woodsman Tavern, Stacey is now the wine director for the bar at Park Avenue Fine Wines. She and her husband also own a food and wine focused event business, Parallel Food & Drink. Stacey is an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

ERIN GILREATH, CRIMSON WINE GROUP (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Erin Gilreath was first exposed to great wine while attending Johnson and Wales Culinary School in Charlotte, NC and knew that wine was destined to be her career path.  As a native of North Carolina, this Southern gal has been in industry for twelve years, eight of which were spent in wine distribution in both North and South Carolina.  Erin was already a lover of great Pinot Noir, but it was during Oregon Pinot Camp in 2010 that she solidified her love for Oregon and its unique expression of the grape.  She went back to South Carolina to spread the gospel of Oregon Pinot Noir but knew that the state would call her back one-day.  She returned to work harvest with friends at R Stuart & Co. in 2012 and she moved for good the summer of 2014.  Currently, she holds a position with the Crimson Wine Group as Pacific Northwest Key Account Manager covering both Oregon and Washington.

TYLER HAUPTMAN, EITHER/OR (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Tyler Hauptman is very excited to be returning to IPNC for his 5th year, he is currently wine director and bartending at Either/Or, a brand new coffee shop and bar in Portland Oregon.  He was most recently managing nationally acclaimed restaurant Pizza Jerk, and before that founding member of Scandinavian inspired restaurant Fenrir. Tyler loves wine and is looking forward to sharing his excitement with everyone.  

JENNIFER HELMBOLD, COOPERS HALL (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Jennifer Helmbold has spent her career in and around the restaurant and hospitality industry.  She has committed to studying, teaching, and sharing her passion for wine.  As the General Manager and Assistant Sommelier at Coopers Hall, she focuses exclusively on wine in keg. The project is meaningful to her as it emphasizes sustainability in winemaking, as well as taking a very casual and inclusive approach to wine.  She has recently also launched a wine consulting business, continuing to offer the challenge of connecting people with wine and offering the opportunity to have a broader focus on different wine regions. She is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and is working on the Diploma Level certification from Wine and Spirits Education Trust.

COLLEEN KENNY, NOSTRANA & ENOTECA NOSTRANA (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Colleen fell in love with wine while working as a Beverage Manager in downtown Chicago at Bar Toma, one of Tony Mantuano’s restaurants.  She left that job to allow the time to study for the Certified Sommelier Exam. While studying, she applied for internships to work harvest.  Which lead her to packing her life up with one week’s notice to move to Portland. She landed at Pamplin Family Winery, in 2015, and worked harvest as a vineyard intern and in 2017 she was a cellar intern. Previously, Colleen managed bars and restaurants in Chicago, including a venue in Wrigley Field.  In the Portland metro area, she has managed beverage programs for multiple restaurants.  Currently, she is part of the wine team and oversee bar operations as the Assistant General Manager at Nostrana & Enoteca Nostrana.  Colleen is a Certified Sommelier pursuing the Advanced Sommelier Certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers.

CORTNEY LEASE, MARTINE’S WINES (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel

Cortney is the Western Regional Manager for Martine’s Wines. She began her wine career as a Wine Advisor at Odd Bins in England, where she took the WSET’s intermediate and advanced exams in London. Upon returning to Seattle, Cortney worked at Wild Ginger as a sommelier, Cellar Master, Wine Director, and ended Company Wine Director for Ginsing LLC until 2016, when she started working for the legendary importer Martine’s Wines.  In that time, Wild Ginger Seattle was awarded the Grand Award by Wine Spectator from 2009 to present, along with Wine Enthusiast’s Award of Ultimate Distinction and Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Lists in the country. Cortney passed her Advanced exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2012. In 2014, Cortney was named “Sommelier of the Year” by Seattle Magazine in their 9th Annual Washington Wine Awards.

ED LEFFERTS, WILLIAM MARIE WINES & RINGSIDE FISHOUSE (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Ed’s passion for wine stems from a career of working in restaurants. It began in Arizona, where college baseball was the dream and waiting tables in the evenings fit the college schedule. Along the way, restaurant work led to an interest in cooking and learning more about food and wine pairings. After a decade of working in resorts and restaurants, Ed knew he wanted to be closer to a wine-growing region. In 2010, Ed and his wife Monique moved to Portland, and settled into our amazing local food and wine culture. After making a home at the Ringside FishHouse, Ed was awarded his Certified Sommelier Diploma in 2014, and later that year formed William Marie Winery. Renting space at an urban co-op allows Ed the opportunity to make wine while maintaining the daily work schedule of the restaurant, and share his passion and story at wine events like IPNC.

DAVID LEISCHNER, METROPOLITAN GRILL (Seattle, WA)

David entered the wine industry 10 years ago with an introduction to Anna Shafer of `aMaurice Cellars. After 9 years and multiple positions at her winery, David decided to concentrate on the point of sales side of wine. In 2015, he started at the Metropolitan Grill and worked his way to become the Cellar Master. This will be his third year as a Maitres d’Hotel at IPNC.

DAN MCGARRY, WILD GINGER (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel

When he’s not playing or ski guiding in the beautiful Cascade mountains, he is in a restaurant. He’s passionate about the standards and service of all liquid beverages. Whether it be pouring a nonalcoholic beer into a cold glass, or pouring 1979 Krug Clos du Mesnil into a Zalto coupe. He is currently the bar manager and sommelier at the Triple Dorr/Wild Ginger.

MEGAN MOFFATT, WINO DINO (Eugene, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Megan started in the wine industry training as restaurants in St. louis.  She studied a wine intern at Annie Gunn’s restaurant under Glenn Bargett and Patricia Wamhoff completing her Introductory Certification of the Master Court of Sommeliers.  Her love of wine brought her to Oregon where she became the Wine Director of Cafe Soriah in Eugene, Oregon.  She has worked for wonderful importers and distributors, but she really loves teaching people how to taste while learning about the regions of the world.  She now leads private tasting groups.  Her groups are affectionately called Wino Dino.  Megan has been an IPNC Maitre D since 2004.  

CHRIS MURPHY, EDDIE MARTINI’S RESTAURANT (Milwaukee, WI)
Maître d’Hôtel

Chris first walked into the restaurant when disco was on the radio and hasn’t had the sense to leave yet. His wife and him first volunteered at IPNC in the early 90’s, and haven’t left that either. They operate Eddie Martini’s restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

MACKENZIE PARKS, THE WINE TRUST & JOHN HOWIE STEAK (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel

Mackenzie Parks is a lifelong student studying the service, business, art, culture and production of wine.  She has had the unique opportunity to work and live in several cities around the U.S. and learn from a range of successful restaurants and restaurant groups while working almost every position possible in the restaurant industry.  She now utilizes her keen sense of hospitality and business to serve the wine professionals in her community through The Wine Trust while also having the opportunity to work with and sell one of the best wine lists in Seattle as a Sommelier at John Howie Steak.  After attaining her Advanced Certification with The Court of Master Sommeliers, she is currently working towards earning the Master Sommelier Diploma.

JEFF PASSEROTTI, RYE FOOD & DRINK (Eugene, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

A native Ohioian, Jeffery Passerotti has been in the hospitality industry for most of his adult life. Starting in kitchens as a pastry chef and sous chef, then on to being a operations/general manager – always with a avid interest in the culture of wine. He has worked in almost all aspects of the wine industry including retail, wholesale, and as a restaurant buyer. He has been responsible for many successful wine programs in the Eugene area over the last 15 years and is a committed wine geek with a keen interest in Oregon and Europe, with a focus on the Pinot noir grape. When not drinking, tasting, and buying wine you can find him on the golf course with dreams of the Senior Tour.

PHILIP PATTI, SUBVINO (Nashville, TN)
Maître d’Hôtel

For the last fifteen years I have immersed myself in the world of wine, with a breadth of professional experience that includes work in vineyards, restaurants, education, retail, distribution and production. Through my career in the wine industry I have earned the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Diploma, I am a WSET Certified Educator, and I have passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam. I am sad to leave Oregon after twelve years, but excited for new adventures in Nashville, TN. It is thrilling to have the opportunity to contribute to IPNC for over a decade.

JESSICA PIERCE, WALTER SCOTT WINES & PIERCE WINES (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Jess got her start in Oregon at Domaine Serene in 2007. From 2008-2012, Jess served as the GM at Jason French’s Portland restaurant – Ned Ludd while concurrently working the 2010 & 2011 harvests at Brooks Winery. In 2012, Jess left Oregon for Italy to pursue a Masters degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. After graduating, Jess interned with world-renown German Riesling producers Dr. Loosen and Selbach-Oster. In 2014, Jess returned to Oregon to lead the charge for Riesling education at Brooks Winery. In 2017, Jess began working with Walter Scott Wines. Under the guidance of Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon, Jess was able to start her Riesling label, Pierce Wines, in their cellar. Jess holds a diploma from the International Sommeliers Guild and a BA from Louisiana State University in her hometown of Baton Rouge. Jess is a Court of Masters Certified Sommelier and has received her WSET Level 3 award. Jess has served on the WVWA and EAH Marketing Committees, & the IPNC Program Committee. Jess is also an adjunct professor for Linfield’s Wine Studies program and it’s her 9th year at IPNC.

APRIL POGUE, LOULAY KITCHEN & BAR (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel

April Pogue comes to us with 25 years of experience having worked with some of the industry’s best at Spago Beverly Hills, the 5th Floor in San Francisco, Seattle’s Cascadia, Earth and Ocean, and Wild Ginger. She believes that the years spent in these establishments along with her diligent study through the Court of Master Sommeliers have prepared her for her knowledgeable participation on our team. Through the years April has been inspired by good service and hospitality and is very excited to share this vision along with all our guests at the International Pinot Noir Celebration.

GAIRONN POOLE, CRISTOM VINEYARDS (Salem, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

2002 marked Gaironn’s arrival into the Oregon wine industry from Texas.  With experience in managing a retail wine department, running  wine programs for some of Portland’s top restaurants as a Sommelier, selling wine for Oregon’s most prestigious wholesale distributor, and finally co-running a winery with a specific focus on sales, she’s seen almost everything.  ​With an eye for numbers, and a logical mindset, she delights in helping launch new programs while extending the warm hospitality our region is known for. She is thrilled to be part of the Cristom Vineyards team as she sees it as “the North star of the Willamette Valley”.

BRANDON RASTOCK, ASCEND PRIME STEAK & SUSHI (Bellevue, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel

Brandon entered the restaurant business twenty years ago and quickly fell in love with hospitality and service. While working at the Seattle based restaurant Crush, he started to discover his passion for wine and spirits. Over the next several years, he cultivated his knowledge and honed his passion for wine and food. Brandon is an Advanced Sommelier with the court of Master Sommeliers and is actively studying for the Master Sommelier exam. A new venture just began for Brandon as the Beverage Director of Ascend Prime Steak and Sushi; A contemporary rooftop steak and sushi restaurant offering an elevated dining experience.

LARS RYSSDAL, ART CULINAIRE MAGAZINE (Healdsburg, CA)
Maître d’Hôtel

Co-Publisher, Beverage Editor and Managing Partner Lars Ryssdal comes to Art Culinaire with a deep background as a wine educator and twice-certified sommelier. As Lars puts it, “I’ve spent my entire life carrying a bag.” Among his many roles, Lars served as General Manager of Ackerman Family Vineyards, Brand Manager for Corliss Wine Estates and working sommelier for Seastar Restaurant, The Herbfarm, and Cascadia. Lars takes pride in his 10-year stint as Chef Sommelier for the Children’s Hospital Auction of Washington Wines, and his appointment by the Washington Wine Commission as the state’s first and only “Ambassador of Wine.” Currently Lars is the Chef Sommelier for the San Francisco Chapter of Meals on Wheels and leads a volunteer team in service for the Star Chefs and Vintners Gala annual fundraiser. Lars has helped facilitate the careers of many aspiring sommeliers with his heartfelt involvement in the Court of Master Sommeliers and Society of Wine Educators. Before wine, Lars hustled records in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years. He promoted the early Huey Lewis and the News albums (among many others), represented Motown and Stevie Wonder the night John Lennon was shot, and made San Francisco the breakout market for Bobby Caldwell’s hit, ‘What You Won’t Do for Love.’ Lars chaired the Strategic Partner Committee and was on the Marketing & Promotions team for Napa Valley Vintners. He still listens to a lot of music.

CHRISTOPHER SKY, RESTAURANT ST. JACK (Portland, OR)
Maître d’Hôtel

Christopher’s passion for the world of wine is all encompassing; he appreciates its place in history, in culture, and, of course, on the table. His interest was sparked working at a French restaurant in Seattle ten years ago. Inspired to join the discourse of his mentors, Christopher began his education at the Northwest Wine Academy, continued his study with the International Sommelier Guild, and went on to become a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. As Wine Director at Restaurant St. Jack in Portland, OR, Christopher curates a list showcasing local pioneers complimented by the canons of the old world. Christopher prides himself on his pursuit of knowledge, support of the community, and ongoing quest for the next bottle that will blow your bangs back.

PAUL SWANSON, RN74 (Seattle, WA)
Maître d’Hôtel

In 2008, Paul moved to Seattle to immerse himself in the world of wine. The burgeoning Washington wine industry, the sommelier community, and starting a family were all at the top of his list. Over the last decade, He has had the great opportunity to visit and get to know nearly every wine growing region in the Pacific Northwest. However, it is in Seattle that he has honed his craft while working for a pair of wine centric restaurants; Michael Mina and Rajat Parr’s RN74 and Wild Ginger. RN74 has proven a most amazing and formative opportunity. He has been able to learn and study from some of the most talented Sommeliers in the business. He has worked his way up from Server to Sommelier. In 2016, Paul traveled to Europe to explore the classic wine producing regions of France and Italy which only reinforced his obsession with the fermented grape. In Spring 2017, Paul obtained Advanced Sommelier Certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and is looking down the road towards pursuing the challenging Master Sommelier exam. Paul has expanded his wine repertoire by working as an Account Manager for a local Importing/Distribution Company – Walden Selections. Most recently, he has begun consulting with local restaurant’s wine programs. Paul’s belief and immersion in Seattle’s vibrant wine culture has proven the perfect place for his passion and growth as a wine professional.

JOSHUA THOMAS, MAVERICK TEXAS BRASSERIE (San Antonio, TX)
Maître d’Hôtel

Having worked his entire life in restaurants, Joshua realized his passion for wine after several years spent in the back of the house cooking. Having established a firm understanding of what makes great food, Joshua has made the next step in his career a focus on learning all there is to know about wine. The more he learns the more he finds there is to learn. Joshua has completed his International Sommelier Guild Diploma and has passed the Advanced exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers. In 2013 Wine & Spirits Magazine named Joshua as one of their “Best New Sommeliers” in the United States. For the past several years Joshua has worked at Prospect earning the Best award of Excellence for their list for four consecutive years in a row. He then moved on to work with Melissa Perello at Michelin starred Octavia and Frances creating some of the most dynamic lists in San Francisco. Joshua has now returned to his home town of San Antonio Texas to partner up with Peter Selig, and Chris Carlson to open Maverick Texas Brasserie in the winter of 2018. Maverick features a broad menus and extensive wine offerings. In his spare time Joshua travels as much as possible to gain a greater depth of knowledge on the subject of food, wine and hospitality.

Also contributing their time, talents, and expertise for IPNC 2018

TAHLIA BOLDEN, CARNIVORE RESTAURANT (Seattle, WA)
KYLE BRIERLEY, BRILEY’S BBQ & GRILL (Lake Forest Park, WA)
ERIC CRANE, EMPIRE DISTRIBUTORS (Atlanta, GA)
CYRIL FRECHIER, AMERICAN NORTHWEST DISTRIBUTORS (Seattle, WA)
JULIANNE KENNEDY, KEN WRIGHT CELLARS (Carlton, OR)
DAVID LUSBY, AMAZON.com (Seattle, WA)
ANNE SCALAMONTI, PENNER-ASH WINE CELLARS (Newberg, OR)
OLE THOMPSON, CLASSICAL WINES (Seattle, WA)