Owner & Executive Chef
Bohanan's Prime Steaks & Seafod / Peggy's on the Green
Mark Bohanan is the Executive Chef and Owner of Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood and founder of San Antonio Cocktail Conference. With a tremendous training background, a foundation in executive management in the food service and catering industry, and 13 years on Houston Street, Mark is recognized as one of the finest Executive Chefs in San Antonio, and has many awards to his name. But perhaps his greatest legacy is his contribution to children’s charities through Houston Street Charities. Mark is proud to tell you that children’s causes are important “because we have to care about the youngest and most vulnerable. Having my own child helped me understand that this is where my heart is, and where I want to concentrate our charitable giving. We’re going to make this our priority in every event we do.”
Houston Street Charities
Mark Bohanan is the Executive Chef and Owner of Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood and founder of San Antonio Cocktail Conference. With a tremendous training background, a foundation in executive management in the food service and catering industry, and 15 years on Houston Street, Mark is recognized as one of the finest Executive Chefs in San Antonio, and has many awards to his name. But perhaps his greatest legacy is his contribution to children’s charities through Houston Street Charities. Mark is proud to tell you that children’s causes are important “because we have to care about the youngest and most vulnerable. Having my own child helped me understand that this is where my heart is, and where I want to concentrate our charitable giving. We’re going to make this our priority in every event we do.”
Iván Saldaña is a premier agave plant and distillation master, an expert in tequila and mezcal, and a certified doctor with aPhD in biochemistry from the University of Sussex in England.
Born in Guadalajara, México, Ivan has spent his life around agave, having worked on environmental and social projects in rural communities of central and southern Mexico, as well as in conservation areas in the United States and Chile. His thirst to understand nature’s nuances led him to study biology and pursue graduate studies in various countries.
His academic research has focused primarily on understanding the evolutionary path of the agave plant, the biological mechanisms that have shaped the agave’s diversity, and the biochemical characteristics that have allowed its adaptation to arid climates.
Ivan has worked with various companies as a specialist in scientific and technical matters of agave, as well as issues related to quality assurance in production, product innovation and environmental responsibility.
Iván’s passion for agave inspired him to create an idyllic mezcal brand; in 2011, Ivan developed and started to produced Montelobos Espadín, while early this year Montelobos started to make new expressions in Puebla Mexico, still pendant to become available in the US.
For Iván, Montelobos mezcal is about the efforts to obtain the perfect flavor profile through a process of intricate research and collaboration with maestros mezcaleros. Montelobos Espadín has received recognition between bartenders comunity and consumers. It earned the 2013 and 2017 a double gold medal at the San Francisco Spirits Competition.
Today, he maintains advisory activities with various industry players and participate in other craft spririt projects in and out of the mezcal category. He is a founding partner in Ancho Reyes Chilli liquor, and he is also partner at Casa Lumbre Spirits, a Mexican spirit venture dedicated to bring to life new spirits and brands from the ancestral Mexican roots flavors into alcoholic products.
Ivan spends a big part of his time to agave and mezcal education through conferences and seminars around the world. He has different publications including “Anatomia del Mezcal”, an introductory book on the basis of this extraordinary spirit.
National Brand Manager
Westward American Single Malt
Jordan Felix is the National Brand Manager for Westward American Single Malt. Before joining the House Spirits Distillery team this year, Jordan ran the well regarded Multnomah Whisk(e)y Library and worked on the noted team at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon. Managing bars from Melbourne, Australia to New York City, he is dedicated to educating about spirits and sharing hospitality with the world. Jordan is an amateur writer, a keen swimmer and a lover of a great Sidecar. Achievements include Food & Wine's Best New Mixologist of 2015 and 2011 Portland Iron Bartender.
Nashville & Louisville Reserve Brand consultant
Raymond Tremblay has had a dynamic career as a bartender, manager, events producer, and brand ambassador. He is currently the Nashville & Louisville Reserve Brand consultant for the Diageo. Ray has been in the hospitality industry for over 15 years, and in this time he has helped run multiple bar concepts which have been published nationally, as well as aided in designing events around the country including SXSW, TOTC, and SACC to name a few. With supporting brands across multiple categories, he is allowed to showcase his creativity on a much larger scale, while focusing on his main goal to build up the community around him. Ray is also co-founder of The Dutile-Tremblay Community Fund, which raise’s thousands of dollars every year to support children on the Autism Spectrum.
Follow Raymond on Instagram and Twitter: @Raymondatlas
Senior Recipe Developer
Though originally a Texas native, Scott's culinary journey started over 10 years ago in Los Angeles.
After attending culinary school in L.A., he worked in some top restaurants in L.A., Austin and San Antonio like Cecconi's, La Condesa, and the late great Campanile (to name a few).
Scott now does everything from recipe design and testing to product development at H-E-B. He also does Culinary training in stores with H-E-B Showtime Partners.
Scotts culinary philosophy and passion reflects the growing trend towards a healthier and down-to- earth lifestyle. Scott writes recipes that allow the natural flavors of food to express themselves.
Good food delights the palate with the perfect amount of seasoning, personality and charm. Coincidently, the same can be said for Chef Charlotte, H-E-B's Culinary Nutritionist. When she isn't tempting your taste buds with her cooking videos on heb.com, she's busy in the H-E-B Test Kitchen creating healthy and delicious recipes that go from the prep counter to the dinner table in practically no time. Much like her culinary creations, Charlotte's philosophy is simple - healthy meals don't have to be expensive or bland. Eating well is all about finding the right balance between smart nutrition and great taste. Which is why she takes a good, better, best approach to her recipes so you have the freedom to choose the ones that are right for you.
Charlotte is a native Texan and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University and received her Master’s in Nutrition from Texas State. Her professional experience ranges from fine dining cuisine to cooking with kids. Look for her online at heb.com/recipes and be sure to try her recipes featured in My H-E-B Texas Life magazine.
Amor y Amargo
Professional bartender Sother Teague is the president of the New York chapter of United States Bartenders Guild, Beverage Director at New York bitters bar Amor y Amargo, co-founder of NYC bar Coup, and the host of “Speakeasy” on Heritage Radio Network. He developed a love of teaching while working with celebrity chef Alton Brown on Good Eats, and has been featured as a cocktail expert in several outlets including Esquire, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Time Out, BuzzFeed and more. His upcoming book "I'm Just Here For The Drinks" will be released in 2018.
In 1995, Dev began his career in his hometown, Los Angeles, at the trendy west side restaurant Chaya Venice. After 11 years of honing his skills in hospitality, he moved to NYC in 2006. After 2 years, he was finally able to find a home at Employees Only where he continued to study and practice, more specifically the craft of cocktails competitions and played an integral role as part of the award winning team at Employees Only which garnered the 2011 TOTC Spirited Awards: “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” & “World’s Best Drink Selection” and again in 2015, when they were tapped with “Best American Bar Team” and “Best High Volume Cocktail Bar”. He has become a recognized and well-respected figure in the industry, as well as being asked to travel internationally to present seminars and do trainings.
John is an award-winning bartender best known for his animated personality and enticing cocktails. With two decades of experience, Lermayer has garnered worldwide attention from the cocktail community after working in top nightlife spots in NYC, Miami and the Hamptons. Hailing from New York, the Miami based bartender gained global recognition as the mastermind behind the award-winning cocktail menu at The Florida Room at Delano.
In 2015, John achieved a lifelong dream by opening Sweet Liberty Drinks and Supply Co, In Miami Beach which has received much critical acclaim.
Sebastien is the U.S. Brand Ambassador of Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky and has been in the food and beverage industry for 10 plus years where he has been able to hone his skills in high-end hospitality, bartending and brand advocacy. Seb previously served as a Brand Ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin, where he developed and executed out-of-the-box initiatives and events such as the Hot Gin Punch Tournament and Bonkers Bike Activation to share the brand with consumer and trade audiences. Prior to working with William Grant & Sons, Seb was based in London where he cultivated his bartending and hospitality skills at Nobu restaurant and private, members-only clubs including The Century and The Burlington Club.
Toro Kitchen and Bar
Originating from Zacatecas, Mexico, Executive Chef Bazan studied Gastronomy and Business Administration in at the University of Durango. He has taken multiple courses in molecular gastronomy while working at “Puyol”, a world renowned restaurant in Mexico City. He has also practiced his culinary abilities in Emporium Hotels in Mazatlán, Mexico and in Mexico City. He then pursued his passion for Spanish cuisine by moving to Spain and working at Monastrell restaurant in Alicante, Spain, which holds 1 Michellin Star. He also worked at La Taberna del Gourmet, also in Spain, which holds 5 suns in the Repsol Guide and Michellin Guide. He teamed up with Gerardo De Anda, owner of Toro Kitchen and Bar, bringing his culinary art as the executive chef since February 2, 2017.
Marriott Rivercenter & Marriott Riverwalk
Matt St.Amand, Executive Chef at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter & Marriott Riverwalk, attended The Art Institute of Houston. Matt believes that continuing education and professional development is essential to success in the culinary industry. Matt’s rich culinary history spans over 16 years; the last 11 years of which have been within the Marriott organization at both urban hotels and two of our flagship resorts.
Matt was born and raised in North Houston where he honed in on his culinary passion and love of BBQ.It was in Houston that Matt learned from and began to appreciate the efforts of the local farmers. To this day, he proudly partners with local farms in Texas and sustainable food purveyors in the region to provide one-of-a-kind, indigenous, experiences that are reflective of the San Antonio culinary scene.Matt serves as an advocate for bringing the craft of the restaurant experience into the catered space for his groups and he thrives on building the relationships with his guests.
Matt’s creative style and passion for brilliance pair perfectly with the Marriott’s core values of Put People First, Pursue Excellence, and Embrace Change.Wherever possible, Matt uses locally sourced ingredients from: CKC Farms (Blanco, TX), HeartBrand Beef (Flatonia, TX), and Bluebonnet Farms (Bellville, TX).Matt works with his local partners to not only highlight food seasonality but also to develop new ways to introduce his guests to the latest flavors, presentation styles and culinary techniques.
Director of Coffee
Dark Matter Coffee
After 2 years as a barista at Star Lounge Coffee Bar in Chicago, IL, Aaron assisted in establishing Dark Matter Coffee and was among the first team to roast coffee for the company. During the initial years of Dark Matter, Aaron quickly elevated to Roasting Manager and assisted in the early year's of it's wholesale program.
As Roasting Manager, Aaron learned to use various types of roasters with proficiency in fluid be technology. During this time, Dark Matter began asserting a strong emphasis on relationship coffee.
Director of Education
The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio
Howie Velie is the director of education at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), San Antonio. Chef Velie manages all of the degree and certificate programs for the college’s Texas campus. He is also responsible for the oversight and evaluation of faculty members. Chef Velie came to San Antonio in 2017 after eight years at the college’s New York campus, where he was an associate dean and assistant professor of culinary arts.
As associate dean, he was responsible for the college’s curriculum, instruction, program development, and food quality for the culinary specializations courses covering world cuisines, garde manger, meat and seafood identification and fabrication, and advanced cooking.
A Certified Executive Chef (CEC), his industry experience includes food and beverage director and executive chef with the Hilton DeSoto Savannah Hotel in Savannah, GA; corporate executive chef for Majestic America Line/Windstar Cruises and Nestlé Foodservices USA; chef/owner of Magnolia in Charlottesville, VA; executive chef with the Sheraton Reston Hotel in Reston, VA; district executive chef with Eurest Dining Services in Bethesda, MD; and executive chef/food & beverage director for the Hotel Lombardy and State Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC.
Howie Velie served in the United States Navy Submarine Service, where he was a Third Class Petty Officer.
In addition to teaching at the CIA, Chef Velie taught at Ecco Italy/Ecco Cibo in Charlottesville, VA and Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD. He has also been a freelance food, restaurant, and technical writer.
Chef Velie has won several cooking competitions during his career, including first place at the Société Culinaire Philanthropique Salon of Culinary Art in New York City in both 2010 and 2011 and a bronze medal in 2013, first prize in the Annapolis Mardi Gras Gumbo Competition in 2003, and first prize in the Turkey with a Twist Recipe Contest from the National Turkey Federation in 1999.
Howie Velie is a member of the American Culinary Federation, Slow Food USA, and the Research Chefs Association.
Owner / Sweet Creator
Sweet Circles of Love
Growing up in Ohio, Julie Ann's family - Mom, Grandmothers and Aunts baked cookies from scratch. That meant they typically didn't eat store bought cookies or pre-made mixtures, where you scoop and bake. Quality, home-baked cookies were and continues to be what comes out of their kitchens, which is where Julie Ann learned and tasted the difference. Fast forward many cities and states later, Julie Ann has experimented and perfected her sweets, which resulted in friends (especially the "cookie monster") encouraging her to sell them. So, with the inside "scoop" from her wonderful hairstylist/friend - Beth, Sweet Circles of Love began.
Julie Ann’s focus is on cookies baked fresh for your order, wonderful tasting, in boutique-style packaging, customized for her clients. Her LOVE Cookie – dark chocolate, pecan and oatmeal and her hand-painted, soft sugar cookies are huge hits for cookie lovers. She admits her freestyle, hand painting may not be “perfect”, as no two are exactly alike, but the cookies do taste amazing!
Her success today would not have been possible without the unconditional love and support from her significant love – Christopher Koval. And of course, all those who “love” and appreciate good, made-from-scratch, fresh cookies!
Outside of the kitchen, she loves spending time with her Texas family – Christopher, Caleb and her four-legged kiddos - Syvannah, Zarabella and Jazxen Bleu.
Whimsical creations abound at Chocollazo, where chocolatier and owner Mary Collazo conjures an array of sinful delights, from infused truffles to a chocolate baklava and much more. Chocollazo is a dessert restaurant, chocolate shop, ice cream parlor and candy emporium. Stroll into this stylish storefront just north of downtown San Antonio and let the aromas transport you to a magical place, where chocolate dreams come true.
Jason Garcia works as the executive chef at Il Forno where he is happily obsessed tending the fire of the pizza spot’s brick oven. Before Il Forno, Jason worked in a variety of notable fine-dining restaurants, including Biga on the Banks, Bohanan’s and Le Rêve. He found his true culinary passion, though, while working at Dough Pizzeria Napoletana.
At Dough, Jason was amazed at how seemingly simple ingredients and combinations could create such great food. From Dough, Garcia worked at a now-closed small Italian restaurant in town where he began experimenting with the pizza oven. Even though Doug Horn, owner of Dough, would never give Jason his exact formula for making his famous Neapolitan pizza, he continued to throw him hints until Jason felt like he had gotten it just right.
Before joining Michael Sohocki’s team at Restaurant Gwendolyn and then Il Forno, Jason was the executive chef at Aroma, a Neapolitan pizza and pasta place in Austin, where he got to showcase his pizza-making talents.
At Il Forno, Jason is most excited about what the casual pizza place is doing for the neighborhood. "We are keeping money in the community,” he said referring to his commitment to buying ingredients locally. He also is thrilled to be curing all of Il Forno’s meats in house, making all the cheese, and of course, working with his beloved pizza oven.
When Sasha Petraske opened his first bar, Milk and Honey, on the lower east side, he brought a cocktail style and a bar etiquette that would go on to inspire bar professionals and engage the public for years to come.
Milk and Honey in 1999 was just the beginning. Sasha had a desire to instill the cocktail culture with a sense of sophistication. His cocktails were carefully and expertly crafted, reminiscent of a pre-Prohibition era. His role in this cocktail revival would help inspire others to open bars like this all over the world, and despite his early death in August 2015, Sasha will continue to be a remarkable force in our cocktail scene.
It was Sasha who said that he would help put together the first Cocktail Conference if it was about charitable giving. And so was born the San Antonio Cocktail Conference in January of 2012. With Sasha’s guidance, tutelage, and passion, the conference has continued to grow, and in his footsteps, it too has found an important place on the cocktail map. We will continue to embrace Sasha’s sense of style in all of our events and activities, and we will remain committed to our mission, Pouring our Hearts Out, supporting children’s charities each year.
Cheers, Mr. Petraske. You are missed every day.
Executive Chef / Owner
Foreign & Domestic
Sarah Heard grew up watching her mom and grandmother cook from scratch, developing a taste for food that is crafted, not produced. She entered the industry in high school by way of Red Lobster where she initially decided to pursue restaurant management, but was told by a line cook that “girls couldn’t handle the kitchen.” In defiance, Sarah immediately transferred to the kitchen where she did more than prove him wrong.
Sarah was hired a short time later as a banquet server at The Mansion at Judges Hill. She was moved to the kitchen quickly and promoted to Executive Sous Chef by the Owner, Lisa Weidemann, who remains her mentor to this day. She left The Mansion in 2012 to accept her first Executive Chef Job at the Winfield Inn.
In 2013, at the age of 24, she accepted the title of Banquet Chef at Shawn Cirkiel’s downtown destination, Parkside. Here she met her fellow chef, future business partner, and future love, Nathan Lemley.
Outside of work hours, Sarah enjoys gardening, raising chickens and goats for food, and teaching her 5 year old daughter to cook and respect nature. Sarah particularly enjoys working with young culinary students and mentors several young cooks in Austin.
One night, while talking shop with Ned Elliot of Foreign & Domestic, he mentioned selling the business. Sarah slept on it, and the next morning she called him and asked "Ok, how much?" She and Nathan were in business.
Jordan is the current Bar Manager of Bohanan's Bar & Restaurant and was fortunate enough to work with and learn from industry innovators like Matty Gee and the late Sasha Petraske. It was at Bohanan's that Sasha gave him the nickname "Sure Shot" for his consistent accuracy in executing cocktails. He's helped build and direct programs at Bohanan's, Juniper Tar, Peggy's on the Green and Pier 67 while appearing regularly on morning television shows in San Antonio to prepare and discuss cocktails, contributing to many local and national publications concerning all aspects of the industry along the way. In 2016 he won Patron's National Margarita of the Year Competition and achieved his life's goal of having his cocktail recipe used to create the world's most expensive doughnut. Jordan and his younger brother Jake both continue to lead San Antonio's bar industry in the right direction.
Director of International Brand Development
Based in Guadalajara, Mexico, Ruben Aceves has served as the Director of International Brand Development for Casa Herradura since 2000.
In this role, Ruben educates customers and consumers on Mexico's famous spirit and Casa Herradura's tequila portfolio through tastings, dinners, and Tequila Master Classes.
Rubens unofficial job title also includes historian for Casa Herradura. He is well-versed in the 140-year-old-history of the Hacienda of San Jose del Refugio, the homeplace of Casa Herradura, which hosts ore than 60,000 visitors a year.
Ruben is a proud native of Guadalajara, Mexico, and holds an MBA degree. He is fluent in English and brings a wealth of knowledge and vast experience to the Casa Herradura team.
Chris Carlson takes simple dishes and transforms them into culinary artistry with techniques honed at some of the finest restaurants in the country. As one of the city’s sleeping giants, he’s ready to burst onto San Antonio’s food scene and share his creativity and strong kitchen management skills at The Maverick.
“My career has a singular focus on quality and consistency, whether it’s inside or outside the kitchen,” he said. “It’s part of everything I do.”
A Chicago native who trained at Kendall College’s culinary program, Carlson worked with the internationally renowned culinary icon Charlie Trotter, MK and the James Beard-award winning Trio. Once he moved to San Antonio, Carlson teamed up with Andrew Weissman at Le Rêve, which Gourmet magazine proclaimed one of the top 10 restaurants in the country.
Carlson worked alongside Weissman — long regarded as one of the city’s finest chefs — for some 15 years including his time as chef de cuisine of The Sandbar, a critical favorite as the best seafood restaurant in the region. After The Sandbar, he garnered acclaim for his work heading the kitchen at Brigid restaurant and later set standards and trained the staff at rising star Edera Osteria Enoteca.
As a child, he watched Julia Child on television and still delights in the joys of classic cuisine. For Carlson, cooking great food is a matter of honing skills through lots of practice.
“People will say, ‘Oh you’re an artist.’ I have always looked at it as a craft. The reason I’m able to do something well is because I have done it over and over. No matter what you’re doing, it always comes down to proper technique.”
It doesn’t matter what you promise if you can’t deliver a consistent quality product. With a calm, insightful and data driven approach Carla Casariego has led operations and delivery teams for over 16 years. The numbers don’t lie and excuses don’t fly – things just have to get done and done right – and Carla never stops pushing for more efficient means to get better results, driving the bottom line and keeping customers happy drinking one of the worlds best vermouths!
Our Vermouth Maker Mark Swanholm brings a lifetime of culinary, cocktail, entertainment and luxury product design experience to Chaparral Vermouth. In his career he has: starred in a TV cooking show, designed signature scents for a leading aromatherapy company, bartended in dive bars, and designed food products for major brands- all while building a successful business career in high technology. He is well known in the cocktail community – with first name relationships with some of the top bartenders in America.
Reyka Vodka Ambassador
William Grant & Sons, Inc
With a passion for creating innovative cocktails and a dynamic personality, Trevor Schneider has been traveling throughout the country to share the inventive nature of Iceland’s Reyka Vodka. As the National Reyka Vodka Ambassador, Trevor is the ultimate educator and expert on this truly charmingly offbeat vodka.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Trevor graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Information Technology. He played baseball into his 20’s, worked in the pharmaceutical industry, and has even been a high school substitute teacher. But his true passion has always been in hospitality and entertainment. Trevor moved to New York City to pursue modeling and acting while working his way up from a server, to bartender, to bar manager, and to event liaison at iconic establishments such as GoldBar and Sweetwater Social in New York City.
Trevor is an avid urban farmer. Also known as the “Cocktail Ninja”, Trevor grows everything from herbs to exotic fruit which often turn into ingredients and homemade syrups for his Reyka Vodka cocktails. True to Reyka’s Icelandic roots, Trevor is quite an ice fanatic, and explores new ways to serve up refreshing, cold cocktails using ice in its many variations.
With an extensive background in bartending and hospitality, experimenting with cocktails is a part of Trevor’s life. In his current role, as Reyka Vodka’s National Ambassador, his main focus is traveling the country to educate, train, and entertain the masses, all in an effort to share the quirky story and inventive history of Reyka Vodka.
Johanna is the quintessential late bloomer. She worked her way through restaurant jobs in her twenties. Received her college degree, got married, and had two kids in her thirties, started teaching elementary school in her forties and spawned the idea for Vena's Fizz House when she turned fifty. She is now the creator of over twenty liquid alchemy products - with more up her sleeves - and pinches herself every morning as she drives into work. She loves her staff, their creativity, and adores their enthusiasm. She thinks this is the job that will finally stick. She and her husband Steve (The Bitterest Man in the World) still cannot believe that they own their own business, let alone a bar, and are loving every second of it!
Hailing originally from Edinburgh, Glenfiddich brand ambassador Mitch Bechard fell in love with the Scotch Whisky industry at a young, albeit legal, age and has been pursuing that passion ever since. Born in Scotland, Mitch was fortunate enough to spend his youth traveling the globe with his family, during which time he developed the kind of wanderlust that would become a central part of his career. Initially beginning his career as breath odor evaluator at Colgate Oral Care Edinburgh, it was here that Mitch perfected his nosing talents, inspecting the minty effectiveness of toothpaste and mouthwash products on halitosis (bad breath) reduction.
From eradicating morning breath, mouth fuzz and that overbearing garlic cheese fries scent, it wasn’t long before Mitch turned his attention (and nose) to whisky when he landed a job as the whisky ambassador in the UK for the Diageo portfolio of whiskies. Able to focus his attentions on his love of Single Malt Scotches, his move took him to the US, to join William Grant & Sons as the Glenfiddich Ambassador; the world’s most awarded Single Malt Scotch whisky. During his 4 years in this position he works within the on- and off-premise to introduce new marques to whisky enthusiasts, and continues to share his love for single malts with consumers, whether they are new to the spirit or loyal Scotch drinkers.
In addition to being a self proclaimed whisky geek, Mitch enjoys golf, tennis, snowboarding, paddleboarding and most importantly spending time with his wife and 7 year old daughter.
Brett McCoy D'Arcy found his way to being a Jameson brand ambassador while working behind the bar in Ireland.
Having held numerous bartending positions while pursuing his studies in Drama and German at University College Cork, he learned about the role from another Jameson ambassador and the rest is history. His experience spans a variety of hospitality environments including small Irish country pubs, nightclubs, and a rooftop cocktail bar in the heart of Cork city. Brett continued to tend bar upon graduation in 2014, furthering his knowledge of spirits and the hospitality industry. Keen to travel and expand on his experience outside of Ireland, Brett landed the role of a lifetime as a Jameson Brand Ambassador in Berlin upon securing the Jameson Graduate Program.
Brett's natural affinity for collaboration and being in front of an audience positioned him well as he engaged with bartenders and consumers, educating on the Jameson brand and the Irish Whiskey category. Having spent a successful year in Berlin, the chance arose to move to the USA, and work in one of its most exciting and diverse markets, Texas.
Mr. Santa-Cruz is a Founding Partner of Wahaka Mezcal, an artisanal, organic, small batch mezcal produced in San Dionisio Ocotepec, Oaxaca. This mezcal is handcrafted by Alberto "Beto" Morales, a fifth generation Zapotec master distiller, and has received numerous industry awards, medals and recognitions. After four years in the market, Wahaka Mezcal is now positioned as one of the leading brands in the category in both the United States and Mexico, with recent exports to Hong Kong and Australia. Wahaka Mezcal also takes great strides in giving back to the community of San Dionisio through its social programs and to the land through the sustainability and reforestation of wild agaves.
Eduardo was born in Mexico City and his passion for Mezcal and Tequila brought him down the Agave path at a young age. His passion for Wines grew during his 20 years living in Paris, France. Now based in America NW, Lalo is an experienced importer of Mexican libations, always looking to share his appreciation for his craft in three different languages—Spanish, English and French.
Eduardo, known to his friends as 'Lalo', is the enthusiastic Agave specialist, Managing Partner of Wahaka Mezcal, Back Alley Imports and Oenophile with a passion for promoting knowledge and understanding of these unique and complex libations made for generations in Mexico. He is a charismatic speaker, event organizer and successful entrepreneur, serving clients from the best-rated restaurants to smaller up-and-coming ones. He is a highly sought-after speaker and trainer, teaching workshops on Mexican spirits. Lalo’s products are present at different restaurants and cocktail bars all around America’s great cities.
Bryan Masamitsu Parsons is a professional bartender and sake sommelier from Austin, TX. With 17 years in hospitality, Bryan began specializing in craft cocktails and Japanese spirits in 2015, leading him to earn a Certified Sake Professional (CSP) certification from the Sake Education Council (SEC) as well as focusing on Japanese Shochu and Whisky.
As a half-Japanese American, Bryan has been passionately involved in the Austin Asian food and bar scene. Bryan helped rebuild the bar program at Soto Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar in 2015, then moved on to help open for Kemuri Tatsu-ya (#8 "Best New Restaurant in America" Bon Appetit baby!) as bartender and sake sommelier in 2016. Bryan has also built drink menus for Asian pop-up bar events, provides sake and shochu education to numerous restaurants, and runs the Austin Sake Social Meetups to provide public awareness & education for Japanese spirits. Most recently, Bryan rejoined the Soto team to build a brand new bar program for the new South Lamar location of Soto Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar.
Charlie has an eclectic past. He's owned comic shops, ran WRFL 88.1 FM, traveled and did press work for the unlimited hydroplane racing series, and even owned a comic convention. He started podcasting in 2008, doing 300 episodes of the Related Recap podcast for Comic Related. In 2012, he began co-hosting the Charlie Tonic Hour and in 2016 he joined friends in a new adventure projecting wonder as an event manager for Gorilla Cinema, a company that owns and runs bars in Cincinnati, Oh.
You can follow him on twitter, Instagram and almost all other forms of social media via @charlierambles.
Ginny is a Cincinnati native and proud of it. Bourbon is her drink of choice but she honestly enjoys all aspects of drinking. The way it brings people together, the way it combines art, science, and culture, the way a nice drink at the end of the day can make the world seem so much better than it did a few minutes before. She is the co-host of The Charlie Tonic Hour podcast and writes for Bourbon & Banter and occasionally other outlets. Ginny is also the Southern Ohio Sales Manager for Middle West Spirits and a tour guide for New Riff Distilling.
You can follow her on twitter via @ginnytoniccincy and on Instagram via @ginnyntonic.
If you've enjoyed one of the thousands of cocktails served during San Antonio Cocktail Conference, raise a glass to Karah Carmack. With Karah at the helm, more than 40 bartenders from across the country (across the world!) descend upon San Antonio each year to produce hundreds of liters worth of fresh citrus juices and syrups for every event and seminar. We're proud to call her ours - she's played a pivotal role since the Conference's inception and is well known throughout the country's cocktail scene. (Be sure to ask Karah to tell you about the Taco Team!)
Jacob Trevino, Founder and CEO of Gorilla Cinema Presents: creator of The Overlook Lodge and The Video Archive, has specialized in bar consulting and developing cocktail programs for the past 14 years.
Armed with that varied background, he’s been able to bring new and innovative ideas to the Ohio market- the first being The Overlook Lodge, a bar inspired by the iconic lodge in the immortal classic movie "The Shining.: The bar has been featured by MTV, USA Today [TOP 50 New Bars in America 2016], Playboy Magazine[TOP 50 BARS IN AMERICA 2016] and The New York Times as well as many best of local and regional lists. The sister bar to the Overlook, is the Tarantino inspired, Video Archive. By taking the idea of a traditional speakeasy and turning it on it's head, Mr. Trevino has gained pressed nationally and internationally by being featured by such publications ad LAD BIBLE, INSIDER TARVEL, CONDE NAST and BON APPETIT magazine. He believes that craft cocktails alone aren’t enough to differentiate. By freshening up the [old and overdone] idea of the craft cocktail and mixing it with interesting settings and unique immersive experiences, Mr Trevino is hoping to elevate and bring magic to the bar community.
Huhu's Ginger Brew
Sam Halhuli was raised in the Pacific Northwest, attending high school in Seattle and graduating Magna Cum Laude from Western Washington University. At 25, directionless and crying on the phone with his mother, he was asked what he wanted to do with his life and blurted out, “I want to own a bar!”
Over the next 11 years Sam eked out employment as a bartender, and through necessity and later passion fell into craft and classic cocktails. But while his love for cocktails bloomed, dive bars always felt more like home. He found professional success, fostering superlatives for the bars where he worked and earningCascadia Weekly’s “Best Bartender” in 2010.
After a move to New Orleans in 2012, Sam started Huhu’s Ginger Brew, a small-scale fresh ginger beer company that became a local favorite at well-known bars like The Avenue Pub, Twelve Mile Limit, and Markey’s Bar. Sam sold Huhu’s and returned to the Northwest in 2016 to open The Mule Tavern, which brought together his personal experiences and passions: a dive bar decorated with thrift store bric-a-brac, serving a range of Mule Variations and simple but well executed cocktails. In its first year the bar has been named Best Hidden Gem (Volcano), Best Washington Dive Bar (Mentalfloss), and one of “20 Essential Tacoma bars” (Eater Seattle).
A Round with Steve and Cole
Born and raised in Washington, DC, T. Cole Newton graduated from Humboldt State University with honors in 2006, earning a BA in History. From there he moved to New Orleans, enrolling with AmeriCorps to volunteer full-time in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. After his service year, Cole found his first full-time bartending job at Commander’s Palace, culinary alma mater of Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. Cole developed a knack for bartending and hospitality, and in 2008 he developed and implemented the cocktail program as a founding staff member of the newly opened uptown bistro Coquette.
Inspired by that experience, Cole opened his celebrated Mid City cocktail dive Twelve Mile Limit in 2010. Among other honors, Twelve Mile Limit has been named as one of the top ten bars in New Orleans by the New Orleans Times-Picayune every year that list has been published. In addition to operating his own bar, Cole has consulted on bar programs at a range of venues including the restaurant Square Root, the Orpheum Theater, and the Troubadour Hotel. He has also appeared on the Sundance Channel’s Beyond the Bar series and is a fixture of cocktail competitions, having represented the United States at the International Bar Summit competition in Bordeaux, France, in 2014.
Cole’s writing on bar ownership can be found on the Tales of the Cocktail website and at his tumblr blog Big Fat Cocktails, and he hosts a podcast with fellow veteran bartender Steve Yamada called A Round With Steve and Cole. Cole also enjoys skiing and horror movie-themed board games, and he recently beat Super Mario Bros. 3 for the first time without using a warp whistle.
David is an attorney whose firm counsels restaurants, bars, and other members of the hospitality community. He earned his J.D. from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, and is a member of both the Texas and Tennessee State Bars.
David and his team focus the majority of their practice on matters including the formation, purchase and sale of business entities; private equity transactions; commercial leases and real estate transactions; trademark protection; employment matters; beverage alcohol licensing; and franchising. The firm also defends its clients in various types of civil litigation.
David’s professional commitment to the food and beverage community is highlighted by his industry-wide involvement, including:
- GREATER DALLAS RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION Board of Directors, 2013-present; Executive Committee 2015-present; President-elect, 2020-21.
- Speaker: 2009-2017 HOSPITALITY LAW CONFERENCES; 2016 Food Business Law continuing legal education; 2015 Legal Issues in the Texas Hospitality Industry continuing legal education; 2015 Dallas Startup Week; 2015 San Antonio Cocktail Conference; 2013-2014 NIGHTCLUB AND BAR Convention & Trade Show; 2013-2014 HOSPITALITY FINANCE & TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONALS Conference; 2011 CLUB MANAGERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA Conference, 2011 RESORT HOTEL ASSOCIATION Conference, 2009 MEXICAN RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION Conference, 2009 FS/TEC Conference and 2008 DINEAMERICA Conference.
- David is a frequent contributor to Restaurant Startup & Growth Magazine, and has had articles featured in QSR Magazine, Nightclub & Bar Magazine, In the Mix Magazine, Food Safety Solutions, the CMAA Newsletter and various HospitalityLawyer.com newsletters.
- David is an adjunct professor and member of the Professional Advisory Committee for the INTERNATIONAL CULINARY SCHOOL AT THE ART INSTITUTE OF DALLAS.
David is also a Member of the NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION and the GLOBAL ALLIANCE OF HOSPITALITY ATTORNEYS.
Shoals Sound & Service
For a decade and a half, Omar YeeFoon has been a student, teacher and mentor of the bar industry in Dallas, TX. Specializing in a simplistic yet nuanced approach to cocktail creation and service, he has left his touch on many notable bar programs throughout the city and beyond from managing award-winning bars such as The Cedars Social, The People’s Last Stand and Smyth, to consulting privately, to taking up duties with spirits startup, The 86 Company as their first Brand Ambassador/Market Manager in Texas. His path has recently taken him back behind the bar, though, opening Shoals Sound & Service, in the Fall of 2017.
Cody Goldstein, has been at the helm of New York City's innovative cocktail scene for the past five years. Nominated as one of 2015's Best Bartenders by Timeout New York, Cody has created a unique and fully-immersed cocktail experience behind the bar. He has curated cocktail bars for various high profile clients such as John Varvatos, LinkedIn, Fuji Film, Google, InStyle, The New York Knicks, Global Citizens Festival, to name a few. Cody is also an award winning bartender with various competitions naming his cocktails the best of the best such as Espolon Cocktail Fights, Food and Wine’s Bloody Mary Challenge, and Starr Rum’s Global Citizens Competition.
As the Founder of Muddling Memories, a beverage and branding management firm, Cody's previous residencies behind the bar include The Nuaa and Redfarm UWS, as well as development the cocktail programs for The Fat Monk, Farmhouse Hospitality, Upholstery Store, NYLO’s "Midwinter Night’s Dream" Holiday Pop-Up, and Mathews in Jersey City. He has been featured on both television and radio including: FOX’s Good Day Live, SiriusXM Radio, with his recipes being published in national media outlets such as New York Daily News, Town & Country, Robb Report Vices, Huffington Post, and numerous local coverage by Timeout, Eater, Thrillist’s “Bartender Tales” and many more. Various brands have also pinned Cody as as a spokesperson / ambassador including Maestro Dobel Tequila and Montauk Rum.
In addition to creating unique recipes and experiences, Cody's work has been published in multiple books, the first being HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK: Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist, published in 2014 by Running Press and his second, GONE WITH THE GIN: Cocktails with a Hollywood Twist, released in 2016.
Charlie Moore has been involved in the bar and restaurant community in Dallas for over 15 years as a bartender, consultant, and brand ambassador. He has been a part several renowned bar programs in the city, served as Vice President of the North Texas USBG chapter, attended countless cocktail weeks and festivals across the country as a guest, speaker, and mixologist. Most recently Charlie parlayed his successes behind the bar and passion for whiskey into a position as a Brand Ambassador for Woodford Reserve.
Skurnik Wines & Spirit
After several years of pub-bartending while pursuing degrees in Art History and Graphic Design, Amanda Elder joined the opening team of cocktail den, Pouring Ribbons, and subsequently also began bartending at agave haven, Mayahuel. As former Creative Director at Pouring Ribbons, Amanda was responsible for designing the bar’s initial thematic menus (Route 66, Silk Road, Moody Authors) as well as organizing Pouring Ribbons 80’s Night, a monthly reimagining of classic drinks from the 1980’s. In the last year, she has been a part of the bar teams at both Leyenda in Carroll Gardens, and Donna in Williamsburg, and has recently joined the spirits team of importer Skurnik Wines & Spirits as the in-house bar manager at their headquarters in Manhattan. Amanda continues to freelance in hospitality design.
Freelance Writer, Tasting Coordinator
Wine & Spirits Magazine
Rachel DelRocco is a New Jersey native who has gained 15 years in the hospitality industry in New York, Austin, and Houston, Texas as a manager, bartender, and sommelier.
Her cocktails have been featured in the Austin-American Statesman, Tribeza, and Whole Food’s Dark Rye online magazine. She became the beverage director at Qui Austin and earned a national Eater Young Gun award in 2015 for her wine program. She also received the title of Best Sommelier at the 2016 TexSom conference.
She is now based in the New York-area working as a Tasting Coordinator for Wine & Spirits magazine. She is also a freelance writer focusing on wine, spirits, travel, food, and social issues in the restaurant industry. Her work can be found at racheldelrocco.com.
Jason Horn has been writing about food and drinks for more than 10 years, including stints on staff at Cooking Light and Liquor.com. He's currently a freelance drink and food writer for outlets including Playboy, The Daily Beast, Garden & Gun and HGTV.com. He's yet to find a cocktail he doesn't like, though he is especially partial to Negronis and Presbyterians. He grew up in Chicago, attended college in New Orleans, lived for many years in Birmingham, Ala., and now resides in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @messyepicure.
A Bar Above
Chris Tunstall’s passion for mixology, oddly enough, began in a casino on a craps table in Vegas. Captured by the excitement of the most electrifying game in Vegas, he was somewhat disappointed when a move to Northern California took him far from the glittering lights and fast-paced lifestyle. Within a short time, he found himself home again in the Napa nightlife, having found a position as a bartender at an upscale hotel. The excitement of the bar also gave Chris an opportunity to find a new passion – mixology and cocktail creation.
Chris quickly found himself in leadership positions, managing beverage programs at some of the most highly regarded restaurants in the Bay Area including the General’s Daughter, the Girl and the Fig and most recently the Wayfare Tavern.
Inspired by the growing mixology culture and his own experience learning cocktail design “from scratch”, Chris founded A Bar Above.com in early 2013 to help train bartenders and enthusiasts on the latest, cutting edge techniques that are making their way through the beverage industry. In April 2014 Chris achieved one of his biggest professional dreams and released the “Mixology Certification Program,” a comprehensive training program teaching people how to create their own signature cocktails.
Chris currently works full time on A Bar Above, continuing to create educational materials and work in a consulting role with bars, restaurants, spirits brands and manufacturers.
Mezcal Vago / Paranubes Rum
Francisco Terrazas starting bartending in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona. From there, he chased a girl out to Austin, Texas where he was behind the bar at FINO Restaurant for almost three years. He then became the General Manager at Bobby Heugel’s The Pastry War, steering that ship for almost two years. He has spent the last two years travelling the country as a member of the Mezcal Vago/Paranubes Rum family, preaching agave and aguardiente and sharing it with the congregation. He has spent the last year based in Oaxaca as Operations Manager for both projects.
Donny spent years in clubs, dives, and cocktail bars in addition to launching the Pour Cost App and co-founding the USBG Rochester, NY chapter. His daily life consists of finding problems he might be qualified to fix, building amateur furniture with minimal tools, and bringing his wife coffee and snacks at work. He hopes every day is the best day of your life.
Chef Kirk was born and raised in Galveston, Texas. He grew up in the family kitchen where BBQs, southern cooking, and holidays were a big deal. With his first restaurant experiences, Kirk took a real interest in cooking and quickly found he had a natural knack for it (he likens his experiences to "Goodwill Cooking").
During his career with Z' Tejas, Chef Kirk trained under the infamous Mr. Jack Gilmore and had the pleasure of working alongside Doug Young and Matt Dodson. Eight years later Chef Kirk was ready for a change and eager to focus on creating his own menus so he made the move to Troon Golf Club in California. Four years later he received a call from Matt Dodson with an offer to return to Austin and invitation to come home to Cover 3.
Throughout his career, Chef Kirk has earned recognition for his abilities to get food costs in line, maintain recipe and quality standards, and (believe it or not) elevate team member morale. During his tenure with Z’ Tejas, Kirk received recognition as Chef of the Year, Chef Trainer of the Year, and Team Member of the Year. He also received recognition from the Travis County Sheriff’s Department for his generous community involvement.
Chef Kirk is passionate about a scratch kitchen and dedicated to serving only the best dishes. His culinary creativity allows him to be adventurous with ingredients while skillfully maintaining a well-balanced medley of flavors. His early beginnings in the family kitchen combined with his professional training prepared him to be a master of coastal and creole dishes. Join us for one of our awesome wine dinners and you’ll get to experience Chef Kirk’s unmatched capabilities. His favorite menu items include the Buffalo Chicken Sliders and the Chop House Burger, topped with a fried egg.
He is favorably unmarried with two furry children – Kahlua, a black lab, and Porter, a Catahoula. Kirk is an all around man; his hobbies include golf, hunting, fishing, and hanging out with his dogs. Oh, and of course… Cooking!
Brindles Awesome Ice Cream
Originally from Southern California, Jennifer has spent a majority of her culinary years in Texas. From baking at a young age to owning a custom cake business in Austin, TX, Jennifer is no stranger to satisfying a sweet tooth. After relocating back to San Antonio from a time traveling with her family’s hospitality management company taking over resort properties as Director of Food & Beverage Sales, Jennifer met her now husband Jeff White. The couple was later presented with an opportunity to purchase Brindles Ice Cream in San Antonio, TX. Since then, Jennifer focuses a majority of their time creating untraditional ice cream flavors, developing wholesale relationships with local chefs and restaurateurs’. She is also looking forward to expanding Brindles Ice Cream shops around San Antonio, TX for all to enjoy.
Executive Chef / Owner
TheGranary ‘Cue & Brew
To Chef Tim Rattray, food is a lifestyle that resembles his roots. Rattray has never viewed food as mere sustenance; eating has always been an experience to him. Raised by a family where mealtime meant precious time spent together, Rattray still finds dish inspiration from his childhood memories of food.
Rattray, a native San Antonian, spent a large part of his childhood living across the pond, in England. This experience nurtured his culinary curiosity from early on, and he appreciated the regional culinary differences in the cultures and traditions found in both the U.S. and England. Rattray eventually returned to Texas and earned his bachelor’s degree in entomology from Texas A&M University. Post-college life saw him on a stint in sales until he ultimately decided to join the culinary world. Rattray, never known to take shortcuts or do anything halfway, took a leap of faith, deserted the sales industry, and never looked back.
Entering the hospitality game fashionably late, his homegrown background and passion for fare made him a strong addition to his already established peers. Rattray landed roles in renowned restaurants across the nation, including San Antonio at Bruce Auden’s Biga on the Banks, Andrew Weissman’s Restaurant, Le Reve, Osteria Il Sogno, and The Sandbar. Knowing the importance of learning from culinary talents in other cities, Rattray staged kitchens throughout the U.S., including Le Cirque and Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin in New York, Schwa and Rick Bayless’ Xoco in Chicago, and Salt & Time, Kocurek Family Artisanal Charcuterie, and Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.
Under the tutelage of inspiring chefs, notable kitchens, and overall support from his father Buddy, Rattray was finally ready to conceptualize his own eatery, The Granary ‘Cue & Brew, in 2012. Since then, The Granary has made its mark in Texas and across the nation as a restaurant that bridges the gap between traditional Central Texas pit-style barbecue and incredibly inventive, chef-driven cuisine. The Granary’s lunch menu offers traditional Texas barbecue with sliced-to-order smoked meats, seasonal sides, and a ‘sauce your own meat’ mentality. Rattray curates a dinner menu composed of plates that combine flavors and ingredients through the elements of smoke and live fire. Rattray’s creativity, commitment to excellence, and use of humanely raised meats has added a fresh take to the Texas barbecue
scene. Like his professional mentors, Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, David Chang, and Sean Brock, Rattray aspires to leave an acclaimed culinary mark on his city of San Antonio. The Granary has been named one of Texas Monthly’s top 50 barbecue joints in Texas twice, has been called “the future of barbecue” by Esquire, and one of the “changing faces of Texas barbecue” by Food and Wine.
When Rattray is not minding the pit, he spends time with his wife, Nicole, and their two Welsh Corgis, Maggie and Toby. He also enjoys reading, opera, and playing music, namely the guitar, bass, and trumpet.
Having grown up in her father’s grocery store, Asia Market, and around his delicious cooking, Kristina Zhao discovered her love for food as a child. That passion grew as she visited eateries across the world and learned to cook herself. She would often call her father with cooking questions, experiment with different ingredients, and host dinner parties to share her food creations with friends and family. Food always brought people together, and she loved that.
The San Antonio native graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and had been living and working in Dallas when her father announced that he would be opening a restaurant. Afforded the opportunity to be closer to home, follow in the footsteps of her entrepreneur father, and pursue her passion, Kristina moved back to San Antonio shortly after to help expand her family’s business into the unfamiliar restaurant industry and open the doors at Sichuan House, a small and now beloved eatery,
Kristina and her family are proud to embrace their heritage. Together with their team, they are delighted to share the traditions and flavors from their Sichuan roots and invite their San Antonio family to eat Chinese and savor Sichuan.
“食在中国，味在四川" (shi zai zhong guo wei zai si chuan):
China is the place for food, but Sichuan is the place for flavor. Hailed as one of the eight culinary traditions of China, Sichuan cuisine is served worldwide and continues to grow in popularity. Home-style food from Sichuan, a province in Southwest China, is most renowned for its “mala” fiery hot and mouth-numbingly spicy flavors; however, the famous culinary tradition is far more intricate.
“一菜一格，百菜百味” (yi cai yi ge, bai cai bai wei):
Each dish has a unique signature. A hundred dishes have a hundred flavors.
Sichuan cookery is characterized by the skillful combination of spices and ingredients with masterful cooking techniques to achieve a harmonious symphony of complex flavors within each dish. Boasting more than 5000 documented recipes, 56 cooking techniques, and at least 23 formally defined flavor profiles, Sichuan culinary arts is legendary for diversity and sophistication.
Jian Li, a Sichuan native, is the Executive Chef at Sichuan House. He trained to be a Sichuan chef at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, but began his culinary journey as a child helping and learning alongside his parents in their bakery and noodle shop. With more than 25 years of experience, the passionate and mastery industry veteran now incorporates his heritage and history in leading his culinary team and into the menu at Sichuan House.
Owner & Operator
Bombay Salsa Co.
The son of a restaurant owner and grandson of a restaurant manager, Hitish saw culinary passion all of his life. Despite entering into a successful career in biochemistry, he never strayed from his passion for food, working nights and weekends just to fill his culinary fix. Eventually that passion led him to create the Bombay Salsa Company, a fusion of traditional Indian and Latin American flavors with a modern twist. When not in the kitchen, Hitish enjoys travelling, listening to good music, and supporting the San Antonio Spurs.
Texas Black Gold Garlic
STEPHEN PAPROCKI is the founder of Texas Black Gold Garlic, a company that heat-ages standard garlic, grown by independent farmers in Texas. He also is the owner of Top Chefa in San Antonio, a consulting company specializing in the food, restaurant, beverage and entertainment industries. Stephen’s culinary career started at Omni’s La Mansion del Rio, one of San Antonio’s most prominent hotels. He later earned critical acclaim as Executive Chef at the Fig Tree. Stephen is president of the Chef Cooperative, a group of chefs that hosts quarterly farm-to-table dinners to benefit local Texas farmers.
True Flavors Inc.
Chef Johnny Hernandez is a celebrated chef, entrepreneur, and founder and President of Grupo La Gloria and True Flavors Inc.. He is one of the premier Mexican cuisine chefs in the United States and a recognized authority on Mexican cuisine and culture.
Chef Hernandez first garnered notoriety as a rising star on the culinary scene in 2010 with the launch of his acclaimed flagship concept, La Gloria. His culinary ventures have since expanded to become Grupo La Gloria, a diverse and growing portfolio of signature restaurants and culinary projects.
Chef Hernandez was born and raised in a community of first-generation Mexican-American families and grew up surrounded by the foods and traditions of interior Mexico that made their way across the border. Encouraged by his father to become a chef, he attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York. Johnny began his career at a number of exclusive resort destinations, including the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, California. Upon returning to San Antonio in 1994, he opened his first venture, True Flavors Catering which earned national recognition for catering excellence.
The most profound influence on Chef Hernandez’s culinary style has been his extensive travels throughout Mexico. His time spent exploring the cultural nuances of each region’s art, agricultural, and street foods has shaped his vision to create authentic and accessible interior Mexican cuisine for American diners. His mission is to celebrate and preserve traditional Mexican food, ingredients and techniques. This mission serves as the guiding principle for creating unique dining experiences that reflect the rich and diverse flavors and culture of Mexico.
Chef Hernandez has received acclaim in publications such as Texas Monthly, Bon Appetit, Poder, Saveur, Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Magazine, Garden and Gun, NBC Latino, Tasting Table and Southern Living. He has been featured as a guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and has appeared on the Cooking Channel’s Man Fire Food and Simply Ming, as well as Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Food Paradise. In 2016, Chef Hernandez showcased his culinary expertise and the flavors of Mexico at the White House as Guest Chef for President Barack Obama.
Chef Hernandez’s culinary ventures and projects include:
- With four locations in San Antonio, Tx. and Las Vegas, Nv., La Gloria celebrates the rich and delicious street foods found across the diverse regions of interior Mexico.
- The Fruteria y Botanero by Chef Johnny Hernandez offers fresh fruit, smoothies, tortas and tostadas by day, then transforms into a contemporary botanero by night.
- El Machito specializes in mesquite grilled meats prepared in the style of the carne asadas of northern Mexico and the campestre style of Guadalajara.
- MEXIco launched with two United Kingdom locations in 2016 features real, honest, home-cooked style food, inspired by authentic Mexican recipes handed down through generations. Dishes represent the diverse flavors and styles of the vibrant regions of Mexico, with some exciting new dishes thrown in for good measure.
- Located in the scenic Texas Hill Country on the grounds of the Tejas Rodeo, Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon honors the diversity of Texas cuisine by combining steakhouse classics with the flavors of interior Mexican. The menu also features select Texas whiskey and bourbons.
- Villa Rica (opening September 2017) celebrates the fresh seafood and flavors of coastal Mexico and Peru. The menu includes ceviches, a raw bar, and an eclectic variety of seafood tacos that will be the hallmark of this new seafood concept. The drink menu will feature unique twists on classic cocktails with fresh muddled fruits and a creative variety of mojitos, caipirinhas and pisco sours.
- Burgerteca (opening September 2017) reimagines the classic American hamburger and our signature burgers are inspired by the cooking traditions and regional flavors of Mexico. An extensive list of rum cocktails and local craft beers will be featured, as well as an onsite ice cream shop serving house made nieves (ice cream), paletas (popsicles), and raspas (shaved ice).
Private Event Venues
- Casa Hernan is a private event space located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, the venue evokes the grandeur of historic haciendas of Merida, Mexico.
- Western Sky is a special events venue nestled in the Texas Hill Country on the grounds of Tejas Rodeo in Bulverde, Texas. Guests of this private event venue can experience a true Texas celebration with its dance hall and Western chic décor.
- Tortilleria La Gloria reflects Chef Hernandez’s commitment to traditional culinary practices. The molino provides the fresh corn products made from locally grown, non-GMO corn for each of his establishments in the San Antonio area.
- Chef Hernandez’s newest development Pakal, is a direct trade import organization that employs responsible and fair business practices to source the highest quality Latin American cacao. Pakal seeks to rehabilitate and restore the Cacao market in the Central American region.
Philanthropy and Accolades
In 2014, Chef Hernandez founded Kitchen Campus in memory of his father, Johnny Hernandez, Sr. who inspired him to pursue his culinary dreams. Kitchen Campus is a non-profit organization that encourages middle and high school students to pursue the culinary arts as a path to financial success. Students learn about food, nutrition, cooking, community involvement and leadership while exploring careers in the culinary industry.
Chef Hernandez established the City of San Antonio’s Culinary Task Force in 2015. Partnering with the City of San Antonio, Chef Hernandez and the task force members highlight current food and beverage endeavors to help establish San Antonio as a renowned culinary destination. Johnny also serves on many corporate and non-profit boards including the Alumni Board and Entrepreneurial Advisory Board of the Culinary Institute of America, the St. Philip’s College Culinary Advisory Board, and the University of Houston Hospitality College.
Chef Hernandez has acted as spokesperson and consultant to McCormick Spice Company, Aguacates of Mexico, the National Pork Board and The Culinary Institute of America. He was recognized by Hispanic Business magazine as one of the Top 50 Influential Hispanics , one of the Top 5 Hispanic Chefs in America by Siempre Mujer magazine and awarded the “San Pasqual Award of Culinary Excellence” by the New World Wine and Food Festival. In 2014, he was awarded the “Con Corazón” award from the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau for his continued work to spotlight San Antonio as a culinary leader and destination.
Chef Hernandez is currently working on his first book where he will share the beautifully vivid cultural journey that has shaped the foods of his restaurants.
Biga on the Banks
James Beard Award Nominee for “Best Chef | Southwest” 2000 – 2011
Bruce Auden, a native North Londoner, is well known for his adventuresome, original and creative menus. Recognized early in his career as one to watch among the new rising stars of regional cuisine, Auden brought a worldly fusion of influences to his brand of nouvelle American cuisine. One reviewer declared Auden’s dishes “extraordinary creations that play havoc with tradition.” His pitch-perfect style brings a lighthearted touch to serious gastronomy, earning his restaurants a loyal fan base of foodies and non-foodies alike for over twenty-five years.
When Biga’s enthusiastic audience finally outgrew its limited table space, Auden teamed with business partners Peter Selig, Perny Shea, and Don Thomas to open the premiere contemporary-regional fine dining restaurant on the River Walk.
Since launching to rave reviews in 2000, accolades for Chef Auden and Biga on the Banks have consistently emanated from tastemakers such as Texas Monthly, Gourmet, and other high profile publications. Biga maintains the highest Zagat rating of any fine dining restaurant on the River Walk. And, Chef Auden has been honored with multiple nominations to the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef / Southwest Award, including the most recent in 2011.
In 1991, Auden opened his first chef-owned restaurant, Restaurant Biga. Wife and artisan bread baker Debra Auden launched LocuStreet Bakery in the same cozy location, contributing to a happy culinary marriage of the high-toned and the rustic. In its first year, Biga earned a spot on Esquire’s “Best Bars and Restaurants” list. Nation’s Restaurant News named Biga to its“Fine Dining Hall of Fame,” 1996. At the peak of its popularity, luminaries of the cooking world Emeril Lagasse, Julia Child and others were guests.
In 1985, Auden moved from Houston to the San Antonio market and promptly put the Fairmont Hotel’s restaurant, Polo’s, on the culinary map, serving “the most provocative food in the city” (Texas Monthly, 1987). Honors and awards for the ambitious new restaurant kept coming, including a spot on Esquire Magazine’s “Best Bars and Restaurants” list in 1991.
Still “six foot one and whippet-thin,” as pegged by Patricia Sharpe of Texas Monthly in 1987, Chef Auden maintains his chops (and his fighting weight) by pouring his creative energy into Biga on the Banks. Chef Auden and wife Debra have four beautiful children and live, garden, and raise various pets at the edge of the Hill Country in Fischer, Texas.
Opened in 2000, Biga on the Banks is the premiere contemporary-regional fine dining restaurant on the San Antonio River Walk. Perfectly situated near downtown’s upscale hotels and entertainment venues, Biga offers patrons sweeping views of a quiet, cypress-shaded bend in the River. Contemporary chic interiors offer a relaxed ambience, the perfect showcase for Chef/Owner Bruce Auden’s award-winning New American cuisine.
Chef Auden is joined on the management team by Biga partner Perny Shea. Ms. Shea is Director of Special Events, and leads Biga’s private dining team. She brings her warm personal style and strong management expertise to the party, helping to make Biga the preferred private dining destination on the River Walk for corporate events, wedding celebrations, and special occasions.
Bruce Auden, Chef/Owner
Martin Stembera, Chef de Cuisine, Partner
Amy Delbridge, Pastry Chef
The Good Kind
The Good Kind, led by Tim McDiarmid of Tim the Girl culinary company, is a modern market providing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack items perfect for dining in or taking home. The Good Kind also specializes in large and small-scale catering and weekly meal delivery. While Tim the Girl culinary company continues with its bespoke event planning, The Good Kind builds on Tim the Girl’s vision of providing a broader base of the San Antonio commu-nity with food that is clean, nourishing, sustainable and delicious.
With fewer people having time to cook healthy meals at home, McDiarmid spotted a need in San Antonio for food that is both sustainable for the consumer and the environment — tasty food that can be enjoyed not just on a special occasion, but rather every day. Ingredients for all of The Good Kind’s menus are locally sourced whenever possible and responsibly grown. With options for dining-in, taking-out and delivery, she envisions a place where healthy food is accessible and presented in its most natural and delicious state: simple and enjoyable. It’s The Good Kind of food you can enjoy daily.
Located in The Historic Pearl, The Good Kind offers a new concept to San Antonio while also showcasing an environment that reflects its food: balanced, clean, modern and straightforward. The Good Kind collaborated with Clayton & Little Architects and Doris Palmeros designs.
Chef Johnny Iuzzini’s interest in the pastry arts began at age seventeen when he started working at The River Café in Brooklyn, New York. Although his primary focus at the restaurant was in savory, Johnny frequently visited the pastry kitchen to marvel as Pastry Chef Eric Gouteyron piped chocolate butterflies. As Johnny’s fascination with pastry grew, he began assisting Chef Eric after completing his regular shifts in the kitchen. Johnny eventually moved to pastry full-time, cementing his desire to pursue a career as a pastry chef.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Johnny joined the pastry department of the original Daniel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and eventually became Pastry Chef François Payard’s right-hand man.
Johnny traveled to Europe in 1998 where he apprenticed in some of France’s finest pâtisseries, including the famed Ladurée in Paris. He also completed an intensive two-week chocolate course at L’Ecole DGF du Chocolat et Patisserie.
In the fall of 1998, Johnny returned to New York for the debut of Café Boulud and then moved to the 65th Street location of the new Daniel for its opening. Johnny was named Executive Pastry Sous Chef for the new restaurant and held that position for the next two years under Executive Pastry Chef Thomas Haas. During that time, Comité Colbert named Johnny one of the “Emerging Young Artists of 2000.” In 2001 Chef Daniel Boulud promoted Johnny to Executive Pastry Chef. In May 2002, Chef/Owner Jean Georges Vongerichten named Johnny the Executive Pastry Chef at his famed four-star namesake, Restaurant Jean Georges, as well as its café, Nougatine. In addition, Johnny also oversaw the pastry program for the opening of Perry Street from 2005-2006, which earned three stars from the New York Times. During that same year, Restaurant Jean Georges earned its most prestigious award to date, three Michelin stars. It was one of only four restaurants in New York City to receive this honor. In this position, Johnny was recognized with numerous awardsincluding “Best New Pastry Chef” by New York Magazine and “10 Best Pastry Chefs in America” by Pastry Art and Design Magazine. In May 2006, The James Beard Foundation awarded Johnny “Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year” and Forbes.com identified Johnny as one of the ten most influential chefs working in America.
Johnny’s first cookbook, Dessert Fourplay: Sweet Quartets From a Four-Star Pastry Chef, was published December 30, 2008. Through beautiful photography and easy-to-follow recipes, this book enables trained chefs and home cooks alike to explore Johnny’s use of single ingredients as primary inspiration for the dessert quartets featured on his seasonal menus at Jean Georges.
Johnny has been a featured guest and judge on numerous television shows including Martha Stewart, Top Chef, Today in NY, Paula’s Party, Today Show, Good Morning America, Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America, Beat Bobby Flay, and Sugar Showdown. He was the head judge of Bravo’s culinary competition series “Top Chef Just Desserts” for two seasons. He was co-judge with Mary Berry in ABC’s “The Great Holiday Baking Show”, based on the popular “The Great British Bake-Off”. Johnny will reprise his role as co-judge on the upcoming season (December 2016) of “The Great American Baking Show”.
Since leaving Restaurant Jean Georges, Johnny has started his own pastry consulting company, aptly named Sugar Fueled Inc. In addition to participating in numerous charity events and initiatives, Johnny is a Chef Ambassador for Family Reach Foundation. Johnny is also a member of the Macy’s Culinary Council and is a LM100 member of Le Méridien Hotels. As a LM100 member Johnny has partnered with Le Méridien Hotels on a global éclair program and is creating seasonal éclair recipes for the hotels and being featured in a video series, inspired by his travels through various Le Méridien destinations. His highly anticipated second book Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking was published in September 2014. Johnny is currently furthering his dream of building a bean-to-bar chocolate factory & coffee roaster under one roof in the Catskill Region of New York State.
I am a practicing anesthesiologist. For pleasure, I have for 35 years enjoyed creating cocktails and entertaining on a variety of scales, from casual events for a few, to hosting grand, formal social affairs for hundreds of guests. I am a Drinkwire contributor for Liquor.com and have hosted Mixology Monday. I have a web site dedicated to home entertaining, both advanced and beginner; for those experienced at food and drink adventures for friends and family at home and for those wanting to learn how to get started. I currently plan and work events as well as guest bartend in San Antonio and Dallas.
From 2008-2014, Elizabeth served as a Latin Cuisines Specialist/Chef Instructor of The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio.
In December 2014, Elizabeth launched her version of Food 2.0. - Pharm Table. It is a synonym for culinary medicine, "food as medicine". It redefines health food and promotes anti-inflammatory cooking. Elizabeth utilizes her background in world cuisines as well as her understanding of plants and herbs and their anti-inflammatory effects.
At the end of the day, she believes all disease is fueled by imbalance in the body, and her approach to cooking is fueled by the desire to bring the body back into balance. Elizabeth hopes to be a resource for all people looking to eat better and feel better.
Pharm Table was named one of the "Top 10 New Restaurants in San Antonio" in 2015, "2016 Best Restaurant for Special Diets" and the "Healthiest Organic Food Restaurant in San Antonio" by USA Today.
Food & Beverage Director, Executive Chef
Jeff Axline is the food & beverage director and executive chef for Hotel Contessa. An award-winning chef who has been featured in numerous Texas-based publications, Jeff Axline was previously executive chef for Hotel Zaza, located in the Houston Museum District of Houston, Texas. He held the dual roles of founder and executive chef for the Brooklyn Athletic Club, a casual start-up restaurant located in the trendy section of Houston. As well, Axline has served as executive chef for Lakeway Resort and Spa, located in Austin, Texas.
In addition, Axline Jeff Axline is a graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, School of Culinary Arts. He resides in San Antonio, Texas
Spirits and Sake Portfolio Manager
David Bowler Wine & Spirits
Tom has journeyed his way across this entire country working in fine bars and restaurants, finally landing in New York City in 1994.
He most proudly worked hand in hand with Sasha Petraske as part of the opening bar staff at The John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel in NYC and also with Sasha at Milk and Honey NYC.
He was honored to be the Head Bartender of the Beagle, during its all to brief - but epic - life on Avenue A.
Tom had the fortune of working with Julie Reiner as her head bartender in the opening of bar 54 in 2014 at the Hyatt Times Square, and he helped open Dear Irving - NYC, where he had the joy of working closely with Meaghan Dorman for three years as her head bartender.
Tom is now the Spirits and Sake Portfolio Manager for David Bowler Wine & Spirits.
He was featured in the Fall 2015 issue of Martha Stewart Wedding Magazine, as the "expert" for cocktail design for weddings, where three of his original cocktails are featured.
Tom has also consulted on numerous cocktail programs around the country, and continues to judge competitions including:
Lustau Solera Standout cocktail competition in both 2016 and 2017, Viejo Indecente bartending competition for Oaxaca bartenders - 2017, Nickle City Drink bartending competition - 2016 Bols around the World 2014 - Australia and USA semi-finals.
In Tom's quest for fresh and delicious, he created a handcrafted quinine tonic – Tomr’s Tonic – that has taken off like wild fire. He started a new beverage category (tonic syrups) and a company, and is now in numerous watering holes and retail outlets throughout the United States, with distribution worldwide including Europe, Hong Kong, Australia, and Canada. Tomr’s Tonic was also named one of the top 10 new products in the world for Tales of the Cocktail 2012, and ranked number 2 in the top 5 new food products of 2011 in Food and Wine Magazine (number one was butter... awesome).
Tomr’s Tonic has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, The Chicago Tribune, Bon Appetite, Saveur, Imbibe, Difford's Guide, Eater, Star Chefs, and myriad other online blogs.
For more info and where to try Tomr’s Tonic, check out www.tomrstonic.com.
His Professional Certifications include:
WSET Level 3 Sake Certification-2017
Armagnac Academy Certification, with honors 2017
Beverage Alcohol Rescource, Bar ready-2010