Browsing Tag

Steve Olson



July 30, 2013

American Winners Selected for the 5th Annual Copa Jerez. Now on to Spain.

Copa Jerez 2013 5th annual logo

The 5th Copa Jerez USA Competition finals were held on July 1st at Haven’s Kitchen in New York City, and Chef de Cuisine Scott Jones and Wine Program Manager Melodie Reynolds from No. 9 Park in Boston won the opportunity to represent the United States at the International Copa Jerez Competition in Spain this October!

Their winning menu is as follows:

Starter Course: Artichokes en Barigoule with deviled quail eggs, white gazpacho, white sturgeon caviar, and manzanilla olive paired with Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla
Main Course: Rohan Duck Breast with La Belle Farms foie gras, asparagus and truffle marmalade, marcona almond, and fennel pollen brioche paired with Lustau Almacenista Pata de Gallina Oloroso
Dessert Course: Mango Mousse with cinnamon graham financier, rooibos, and honey crunch paired with César Florido Moscatel Especial (dish created by Executive Pastry Chef Jaime Davis)

Copa Jerez 2013 winning team

Copa Jerez is an international competition featuring top chefs and sommeliers from across Europe, Asia, and North America, in which each team is commissioned with choosing the ultimate matches of Vinos de Jerez with food. It was created to showcase the incredible diversity of Sherry wine and its remarkable ability to match with food.

Competition was fierce, as Scott Jones and Melodie Reynolds competed against two incredible teams — James Campbell Caruso and Miguel Villalpando, La Boca, Santa Fe, NM, and Continue Reading…



October 1, 2012

Louis Royer “Force 53” High Proof Cognac Competition concludes
By Francine Cohen

Many entered, but only three stood victorious when the judges had finished their tastings and tallies. Tim Cooper of Gold Bar, Franky Marshall of The Tippler and Monkey Bar, and Lynnette Marrero of Astor Room took the top first, second and third prizes respectively. Interestingly, they were all from New York City.

Is it something in the water that made these three New Yorkers the top winners of the Louis Royer “Show Me The Force!” competition? Well, it works for bagels, so why not cocktail creators?

It could have been the fact that they all used sherry as one of the five ingredients allowed in the recipe featuring Louis Royer high proof cognac and showed off seasonal inspiration. But then again a number of other contestants also included sherry, so that may not be the answer.

The truth is it’s the force of high proof cognac that makes a cocktail extra special; that’s what brought these three their victory. Cooper comments, “I entered because I genuinely like cognac and think its one of the more underappreciated spirits in terms of cocktail use. Hence, if I won, I’d like to think I could help bring some attention to the category.”

The category was already a favorite with Marshall, but in entering this competition her appreciation grew as she explains, “I really do love cognac! I like to drink it and mix with it – often at the same time. Secondly, when I tasted The Force and started experimenting, I was very excited with the results. This cognac has an elegance that one might not expect at 53% ABV.”

She continues, “This competition was about showing The Force’s seasonal versatility, and I Continue Reading…

Rocks Stars


December 21, 2011

By David Ransom

There was a period when a prospective employer looking at Tad Carducci’s resume may have written “underachiever” in the margin. His father would probably have agreed…

Yet, delve a little deeper into Tad’s life, and one will see that, contrary to what seemed for some people to have been, at times, a relatively un-inspired chosen path, there’s an underlying brilliance and incredible work ethic that has launched him straight to the upper echelon of the cocktail world to join names like DeGroff, Reiner, Abou-Ganim, and Saunders.

But was this always the plan for Tad? Probably not; and he admits it. The oldest son of an attorney and social worker, Tad grew up in the suburban New York City town of Hackensack, New Jersey with dreams of becoming an actor (much to his father’s chagrin). He realized early that he had the gift of charm, and didn’t have to put much effort in to get by socially or in school. “Being the oldest, I got away with a lot of shit,” he says, “my siblings got away with nothing.” He admits, even now in his thirties, to still having a “healthy case of ADD,” and that he was “never the best student.” At one time, his father even threatened to send him to West Point so he’d “shape up.” But he also showed great intelligence early, getting accepted to Cornell Hotel School. Of course, he never went, eventually enrolling at Rutgers University to study his true love of acting.

That love of acting and performing has been a thread almost his entire career, popping up many times over the years. Sometimes, it’s ruled his direction, like the time he moved to Dublin, Ireland to play guitar in a band, and other times it’s just popped up briefly, like when he juggles, does magic tricks, or rides his unicycle. Yet, whether it’s been an undercurrent helping direct his life’s flow, or a full blown tsunami of energy, like when he acted Off-Broadway or did “flair bartending” (think Tom Cruise in Cocktail), that artistic streak has also helped Tad become that One in a Million success story in an industry populated largely by people who will never be recognized for their talent or work ethic.

Tad’s road to the top started like many others’, at the bottom. His first job in the hospitality business was as a busboy in a wedding hall. One day the bartender no-showed and Tad was thrown behind the service bar and taught to make the drinks for the waitstaff. He realized he liked it, and by the age of 20, after stints making pizzas and working at MacDonald’s (still an admitted guilty pleasure), was bartending full time.

When he left the ‘burbs for the big city to follow his dream of acting, like many others he paid the rent working in restaurants, sometimes behind the bar, sometimes not, but always enjoying what he did, and always doing well. As his enjoyment of the hospitality business grew, the acting bug lessened, and he moved full-time into restaurant work, eventually parlaying his growing love of wine into a job at Windows on the World as Assistant Cellar Master under Kevin Zraly and Andrea Immer-Robinson. While he eventually went back to bartending, it was not before he became a certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and gained his Advanced Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (so, he CAN study…).

“My strength in this business is hospitality,” Tad says, “and welcoming, entertaining, and Continue Reading…



October 13, 2011

Ultimate Blast discounted tickets for INSIDE F&B readers

There won’t be a ball dropping, confetti falling, or Ryan Seacrest trying to fill Dick Clark’s shoes as Auld Lang Syne plays in the background but you’ll still want to head to Times Square on Friday night.

Paul Pacult, Dale Degroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, Andy Seymour, Dave Wondrich and other industry leaders have provided us with a solid spirits education illuminating topics from pulque to punches and now it’s time to celebrate all we’ve learned. In just 48 short hours the ballroom at the Marriott Marquis will convert into NYC’s most award winning cocktail party and it’s an event no self respecting quaffer will want to miss.

Taste award winning cocktails (some made with Fever-Tree mixers) from Macchu Pisco, new cocktails from Louis Royer Cognac and LiV Vodka, international wines and champagnes that scored high in the Ultimate Beverage Challenge and all sorts of unique bottlings, wine, cocktail and spirit tastings.

The evening doesn’t have to end when you head out the door. Visit with the authors of some spirited cocktail books and take a signed copy home with you. Throughout the evening you’ll have a chance to buy their books and meet and raise a glass with the following authors:

• Ultimate Beverage Challenge/Ultimate Blast founder F. PAUL PACULT – American Still Life: The Jim Beam Story and Making the World’s #1 Bourbon; A Double Scotch: How Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Became Global Icons
• JILL DEGROFF – Lush Life 2: Portraits from Behind the Bar
• DALE DEGROFF – The Craft of the Cocktail; The Essential Cocktail
• KAREN FOLEY – The American Cocktail: 50 Recipes That Celebrate the Craft of Mixing Drinks from Coast to Coast
• JIM MEEHAN – The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy
• DAVID J. REIMER SR. – Micro-Distilleries in the U.S. and Canada: 2011 Edition
• DAVID WONDRICH – Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl; Imbibe!

For a DEEP discount on this evening that promises to be one of the best parties of the fall INSIDE F&B is proud to partner with the Ultimate Blast to offer industry readers a $25 ticket. Go to the list of everything that will be available to be poured.

The facts:
Date: Friday, October 14, 2011
Address: Marriott Marquis Hotel, 1535 Broadway @ 45th St., NYC, Broadway Ballroom
VIP Tickets: $122.50 before 9/15; $175.00 after; 5:30 – 9:30pm
General Tickets: $87.50 before 9/15; $125.00 after; 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Purchase Tickets here:



July 21, 2011

Ultimate Beverage Challenge awards double as a sales tool
By Francine Cohen
All photos by Daniel Krieger

WINNING! It’s not just Charlie Sheen’s popular catch phrase (or Giuseppe Gonzalez’s favorite too, if his Facebook page is any indication), but it’s why you enter your brand in competitions. For the guts and the glory. For the admiration from your peers, appreciation from consumers, attention at Tales of the Cocktail ( and a boost in sales. But really, how much glory is there in being the brand that won the double secret probation double gold medal? Why do competitions need “double” medals? One in each category is good enough for the Olympics; and it should be enough for spirit competitions.

That, in part, is why Paul Pacult and his band of merry mixology experts including Jacques Bezuidenhout, Dale DeGroff, Jim Meehan, Gaz Regan, Steve Olson, Audrey Saunders, Marcos Tello, David Wondrich, and more boldfaced names you know, love and respect, were hard at work judging cocktails and the spirits that go into them this past spring. In its second year, the Ultimate Beverage Challenge (aka UBC, actually a series of three competitions: Ultimate Spirits, Ultimate Cocktails, Ultimate Wine), continues to lead the way towards enlightened spirits recommendations and turns the competition game on its head. Pacult comments, “I just think it’s simple. When you put together the best mixology, the best cocktailians in the world, authors, journalists, bartenders, and consultants then we set up a situation where not only do we have the leading efforts, we have the methodology. And those two things bring credibility.”

And that credibility, and clarity, is so important. Particularly when you find yourself somewhere like the Publix grocery store on Glades Road in Boca Raton, Florida, awash in a sea of wines and spirits, many of which are proudly displaying neck tags touting their many medals won from some unknown judging body. What do those medals really mean? Is the tennis playing soccer mom who lives in the gated community down the road going to understand what those medals stand for? And why are they valid? Who knows.

It’s a question for the ages. And the skeptical. Pacult notes, “The fact that we don’t give medals really works in our favor. We’re differentiating ourselves from just about all other competitions which issue medals like peanuts at the circus. Continue Reading…



July 15, 2010

Insights into becoming a happier and healthier bartender
By Francine Cohen

You’ve copiously studied recipes from the patron saint of cocktail recipes, Jerry Thomas ; Tony Abou-Ganim, Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, Paul Pacult, Julie Reiner, Audrey Saunders, Andy Seymour, and Dave Wondrich, have taught you valuable lessons in technique, ingredients, and tasting and now, at Tales of the Cocktail 2011 it is time to learn how to become the master of your own domain.

This seminar asks: Ever wonder how some nights when you worked so hard – you were at the end of the night physically tired but in good spirits and appeared not to have lost a lot of energy? Remember also the nights when at the end you were not only physically tired and exhausted but also emotionally drained and “heavy?” If you can answer “yes”, even if it’s just for one shift, then you need to be in this room on Saturday afternoon.

Join Dushan Zaric (Employees Only, Macao Trading Company and Aisha Sharpe (Contemporary Cocktails for a journey into yourself that results in better bartending. And a better, more peaceful, productive, and profitable you that you’ll get to after understanding how to look at service as an art, maintain balance and sense of self and, essentially, break down the bartender.

Zaric explains why he’s bringing this seminar to Tales after offering it to bartenders around the world. He says, “There are a lot of bartenders who are very well versed in mixing cocktails, knows history, when it comes to service and help themselves that’s where they are not well equipped, and don’t have the tools.”

He continues, “I’m doing this to make people’s lives easier. It breaks my heart to see Continue Reading…



June 28, 2010

By Ted Henwood Photos courtesy of Leblon

A last-minute email inspired me to purchase a ticket to the inaugural Gourmet Latino Festival that kicked off June in New York, offering a slew of experiences in Latin-inspired foodie-fun. Over the course of the weekend long festival 40 gifted chefs and a horde of highly regarded drink-makers huddled together to celebrate the culture and gastronomy of Latin America. Levantameurtos (awaken the dead) Foods & Cocktails, a brunch celebrating regional Mexican dishes paired with morning cocktails, was my first choice (morning drinks — right on). It was such a delight that it inspired me to stick around and poke my greedy snout into the next room for a tasting seminar on Brazilian food and cocktails.

Upon entering, my nose was struck by the wafting scent of culinary delights that author and chef Leticia Moreino-Schwartz had created to entice us. The most amazing was her Pão de Queijo, which I might shamefully describe as a cheesy, delicate, chewy, non-greasy, tiny-and-cute Hushpuppy. An apparent staple in Brazil, this little bun has been obviously perfected by her.

The seminar commenced with speaker Olie Berlic, the un-official Ambassador of Brazilian Rum, as he fired on all cylinders raging about his favorite white liquor. His commitment to leave a permanent impression and convert many to his devotion for this Latin spirit was truly infectious.

And thus, armed with Olie’s inspired spiel and a belly full Leticia’s Pão de Queijo, I now stand ready to talk Brazilian Rum…and what first must be declared: Brazilian rum does not exist!

Ok, “Brazilian Rum” exists, but merely as a legal term created by the American government to categorize a South American spirit. Well, maybe another government somewhere on our globe makes the same gaffe, but, according to Olie, Brazilian Rum does not exist in Brazil. Why? Because in South America’s largest country (and the only Portuguese speaking country in all the Americas) the spirit that is distilled purely from the fermented juice of fresh pressed cane is called — Cachaça!

And Brazil loves its Cachaça. Loves it so darn much, that it ranks Continue Reading…



June 2, 2010

Three INSIDERs can win tickets to Gourmet Latino Festival Seminars

What do you know about the Mezcal trail, the foods and national spirit of Brazil, and the wines and cuisine of Chile? Just enough so that you’ve whet your appetite and want to know more, or are you so knowledgeable that you bleed Pisco and make tamales in your sleep?

Whatever your level of expertise with the food and drink of Latin America you won’t want to miss out on the chance to win tickets to this weekend’s Gourmet Latino Festival.

We’ve got three pairs of tickets to give away for the following seminars (one pair per seminar, details on winning after the jump):

Pairing Perfection: Chile’s Top Wine Regions Paired with Classic Chilean Dishes
With Chef Jacques Gautier, Fred Dexheimer and Jorge Perez
Saturday, June 5, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Mezcal Trail: Travel Through the Seven Regions of Mezcal With Chef Roberto Santibañez and The Liquid Chef Junior Merino
Sunday, June 6, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Feel the Spirit of Brazil and Crank Up the Heat with Brazilian Food & Cocktails!
With Author/Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, Olie Berlic, Vicente Bastos Ribeiro and Steve Luttmann
Sunday, June 6, 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

This celebration of Latin culinary traditions and culture offers up a lively and tasty educational seminar series featuring food, cocktail and wine luminaries discussing and sampling authentic Latin dishes and drinks, as well as their interaction and cultural significance.

“I’m very proud of the level of the chefs, cocktail experts and sommeliers who are participating in our seminar program,” said Steve Olson, aka wine geek and beverage ambassador of the festival. “Moreover, it’s quite unique that the beverage and culinary sides will be presented simultaneously, as an organic whole, in all of our seminars. In the Latin world, the two always go hand-in-hand and we are thrilled to honor this tradition and provide this complete experience to New Yorkers and visiting out-of-towners.”

The festival and its seminars benefit Continue Reading…