The Connected Table Live! New Years Eve Edition

We continue our Families in the Industry series with the father-daughter duo of Tony and Marisa May, proprietors of SD26 in New York City. Both are like family to us and we have spent many evenings savoring delicious meals and decadent white truffle dishes at both SD26 and the Mays’ prior restaurant, San Domenico.

Marisa and Tony May SD26, New York (photo: Robert Caplin)
Marisa and Tony May
SD26, New York
(photo: Robert Caplin)

Tony May is one of the nation’s most respected restaurateurs and the ambassador for authentic Italian food. His knowledge about Italian cooking is encyclopedic, and his enthusiasm is translated into every dish at SD26 and in his book, “Italian Cuisine: Basic Cooking Techniques.” Tony’s commitment to uphold the quality of true Italian cooking led him to establish Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani(GRI), an organization of leading Italian restaurants which offers scholarships to culinary students to study in Italy.

His restaurant track record reads like a history of New York fine dining: General Manager then Owner of the Rainbow Room (1968-1986), Owner of critically acclaimed Palio, Owner of San Domenico, which flourished on Central Park South for 20 years. SD26, which opened five years ago just north of Madison Square Park, represents a contemporary flavor and feel and the new generation of authentically May.

And that new generation is daughter, Marisa, who brings a sparkling flair to SD26 and is a refreshing, sophisticated image for Italian- American women entrepreneurs. Marisa has worked side by side with her father since graduating from New York University. Marisa energetically works the dining room and frequently appears at charity events and on television, including: NBC Today, The Couch, LX TV and Food Network. “Esquire Magazine” named Marisa “the Restaurateur We Love” in its “Women We Love” issue. A member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Marisa actively supports many charities including C-CAP (Careers in the Culinary Arts Program), which honored Tony in 2013, Citymeals-on-Wheels and Susan G. Komen NY.

SD26 continues to thrive with critical acclaim receiving four stars from “Forbes” and named one of Zagat’s “2014 Top 50 Restaurants.”

Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!
Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!

Join Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays 2pm ET live on W4CY and on demand anytime at iHeartRadio (under Shows and Personalities). Meet the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, fine beverage and hospitality.


Christmas Eve Special: Our Favorite Things!

Jon Rowley

Jon Rowley’s career has been a fascinating life-long exploration and quest to improve the flavor, quality and understanding of fish, shellfish, fruits and vegetables.

After travel to Europe and attending Reed College, Jon began his career as a commercial fisherman in Alaska. In 1981, as a life-long scholar of the seafood industry from harvest to table, he began consulting to restaurants, retailers, seafood companies and other businesses. Jon has received national marketing awards and considerable media coverage for programs he has initiated such as Bruce Gore’s “Signature Salmon” and Copper River and Yukon River King Salmon.

Sparked by an Ernest Hemingway passage in the The Moveable Feast on eating oysters and a subsequent seminal platter of oysters at Le Dome in Paris, Jon developed a career-influencing passion for oysters. He does marketing and various consulting work for fifth generation Taylor Shellfish Farms and has organized restaurant oyster programs and promotions across the country. He produces the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, an annual dating service for West Coast wines and oysters.

In addition to his consulting and marketing work for seafood producers and buyers, Jon works with farmers, restaurants and retailers to improve the quality, flavor and distribution of fruits and vegetables. Anthony’s HomePort’s seasonal, local strawberry program based on just-picked local berries and the much-acclaimed Metropolitan Market’s Peach-O-Rama promotion are examples of this work. He is also an accomplished forager of wild mushrooms and other wild foods.

Jon has taken a personal interest in reviving American heirloom apples. To give expression to several years of research on heritage apples, Jon embarked, with his wife Kate McDermott, on what turned into a two year quest to develop the “quintessential American apple pie”. Mission accomplished, Jon and Kate co-founded Art of the Pie.

A perceived correlation between organic matter in soil and flavor led Jon to the Seattle Master Composter training, several courses on soil and soil ecology and to the Interbay P-Patch Community Garden where he served as Site-Coordinator. His work at Interbay has been featured in a number of publications including the Christian Science Monitor and Organic Gardening. One of his proudest accomplishments was the Seattle P-Patch Program’s “Most Beautiful Vegetable” award for his P-Patch grown leeks in 1999.

Jon was inducted into the prestigious “Who’s Who of Cooking in America” in 1987 for his work improving seafood handling, quality and information. He served as a Contributing Editor to Gourmet magazine and currently serves a Contributing Editor to SAVEUR. He was the recipient of the Seattle Weekly’s first annual Angelo Pellegrini Award and is a member of the Shaw’s Crab House’s Oyster Hall of Fame in Chicago.

What would it take for you to walk away from a lucrative banking career to pursue a passion? For Joan Coukos it was the allure of chocolate.

Joan Coukos
Joan Coukos

Joan majored in Russian and French at Duke University and received an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill before beginning a banking career that spanned New York and Moscow. On a trip to Brussels in 2000, she fell under the spell of old world, hand made chocolates and began creating recipes back in her tiny Manhattan kitchen. Her bank coworkers became the first enthusiastic guinea pigs, and upon receiving repeated accolades, she began taking formal steps to becoming a chocolatier, studying chocolate and confectionery arts with a coterie of world-class French, Belgian, American and Swiss chocolatiers in New York and at The World Pastry Forum in Las Vegas.

In 2003, she founded Chocolat Moderne® with a mission to create visually stunning, hand-crafted confections filled with perfectly balanced, on-trend flavors. Joan believes that chocolate will always be in style – especially luxe gourmet chocolate. Like fashion design, Chocolat Moderne’s chocolate assortments are a vibrant, ever-changing, delectable collection wrapped in distinctive packaging.

It starts with a base of quality ingredients: Valrhona French chocolate with a high cocoa content and emphasis on growing regions; European style butter; cocoa butter; full cream; granulated pure cane and specialized confectionery sugars. Then you add luscious fillings such as five different varieties of dark chocolate, pistachios, hazelnuts, fruit purees, fruit preserves, premium liqueurs, honey, essential oils, teas, spices, fresh squeezed citrus juices and zest. The chocolates are covered with extra bitter dark chocolate of 61% cocoa content. Everything is natural and free of preservatives or artificial flavors.

Chocolat Moderne® has received top honors in the specialty food industry by winning multiple sofi™ Gold and Finalist Awards from the Specialty Food Association. Joan’s chocolates and her personal story have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Food Network and The Cooking Channel. In 2013, Joan was inducted into the NY Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a philanthropic society of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality. Later that year, she was named one of Dessert Professional Magazine’s Top Ten Chocolatiers of North America.

How sweet it is!

Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!
Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!

Join Hosts Melanie Young and David Ransom, the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple, Wednesdays 2pm ET/11 am PT on The Connected Table LIVE! Each week we bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, find beverage and hospitality.

Tune in live:
Listen on demand anytime/anywhere: (under Shows and Personalities)


Family First: Bill and Peter Deutsch on the Connected Table Live Dec 17

December 17th on The Connected Table LIVE! Melanie and David will start a new series entitled “First Families of Wine, Food and Hospitality.” Many businesses, from wineries to restaurants to the vendors who supply them, are often multi-generational. The business may have started small, possibly in a garage or a storefront. Over time it grew beyond with family members stepping in work to the lines, build the enterprise and eventually taking over the reins.

Peter and Bill Deutsch- Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
Peter and Bill Deutsch-
Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits

A perfect example is the father-son team Bill and Peter Deutsch ofDeutsch Family Wine & Spirits, one of the country’s leading wine and spirits importer -distributors. Bill founded Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits in 1981 with the vision of running a family-owned company that would import and market fine wines from family-owned producers around the world. Thirty-three years later the dream is successful reality and thriving business. The White Plains-headquartered company has grown to include a prestigious roster of internationally renowned, award-winning wine and spirit brands serviced by over 200 employees who have helped grow DFWS into the number one imported wine company in the U.S. and the sixth largest wine company overall.

With family-owned labels that include [yellowtail], Les Vins Georges Duboeuf, Barone Fini, Josh Cellars, and The Calling, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits is one of the true pioneers in bringing affordable, quality wines to the U.S. market and, while doing so, has changed the concept of wine marketing. Much of the company’s success comes from the values set forth by Bill, who touts what he calls the “Six P’s model for building brands.” They are: People, Product, Package, Price, Promotion, Potential; and it is through these that Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits identifies and builds brands that it thinks will have success in the marketplace.

Peter, who joined the company in 1985, offers a rare blend of creative and operational strengths. His strategic approach to building Georges Duboeuf into the #1 Beaujolais wine in the United States delivered impressive bottom line results. In addition, his accomplishments for successfully establishing [ yellow tail ] as the #1 Imported brand and the #1 wine brand at its price point in the United States led to record growth and profitability.

After almost 30 years working together, Bill, who serves as Chairman, and Peter Deutsch Family’s CEO, are a dynamic team and family success story, and Melanie and David look forward to connecting with them. Connect:

Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!
Melanie Young and David Ransom, Hosts, The Connected Table LIVE!

The Connected Table LIVE! airs Wednesdays, 2pm ET./ 11am PT on W4CY radio and on demand at IHeartRadio under Shows and Personalities. Hosts Melanie Young and David Ransom are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple who bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality.


Tastemakers on the Connected Table Live! Dec 10

Two award winning cookbook authors and journalists who both bring their style of taste to all they do will be our guests on The Connected Table LIVE! December 10, 2pm ET/ 11am PT.

Maricel Presilla
Maricel Presilla

She is the first Latin American woman chef to have been invited to be a guest chef at The White House to cook during National Hispanic Heritage Month. Restaurateur and award winning cookbook author,Maricel Presilla is a culinary historian specializing in the foods of Latin America and Spain. .Maricel is author of The James Beard Award 2013 Cookbook of the Year Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America(W.W. Norton), an expansive book which also received a 2013 IACP Best General Book Award. Gran Cocina LatinaShe is owner of two restaurants in Hoboken, NJ: Cucharamama and Zafra, as well as Ultramarinos, a Latin American marketplace, bakery and chocolate shop.

Gran-Cocina-LatinaBorn in Santiago de Cuba, Maricel holds a doctorate in medieval Spanish history from New York University and has received formal training in cultural anthropology. She has done considerable research on Latin American agriculture – with special emphasis on tropical crops, cacao and vanilla agriculture, and chocolate production. She is the president of Gran Cacao Company a Latin American food research and marketing company that specializes in the sale of premium cacao beans from Latin America. She is author The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Chocolate with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, 2001). She has led numerous trips to the cacao growing regions of Venezuela and has written three illustrated books for Henry Holt that explore the indigenous cultures and cuisines of Latin America.

She writes a weekly food column for the Miami Herald. Two of her articles for Saveur magazine were nominated for James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards. In 2012 The James Beard Foundation named her Best Mid-Atlantic Chef. The Foundation in 2012 appointed her chairman of the newly created Felipe Rojas-Lombardi Memorial Scholarship. Maricel also serves on the advisory committee for the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio Campus.


He encouraged us to rethink pairing red wine with fish and helped us explore the pleasures of the palate and good taste through his cookbooks, articles and award winning popular newsletter The Rosengarten Report.

David Rosengarten
David Rosengarten

David Rosengarten has been in the frontlines of the food industry for over 25 years as a journalist, television personality and cookbook author, He has written hundreds of articles and contributed as many original recipes to publications including Gourmet (where he was restaurant critic from 1996-2000), The New York Times, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Harper’s Bazaar, Departures, The Wine Spectator and Newsday.

David perhaps may be best known for his work as the host of “Taste,” the award winning Food Network television show devoted to the principles of good taste in food and wine. David appeared on more than 2500 shows on Food Network and has been featured on a variety of other shows and networks, most notable NBC where he has regularly appeared on“The Today Show.” He appeared as a judge on the new season of “Iron Chef America” in 2012.

He is the author of multiple cookbooks including the seminal Red Wine with Fish (Simon & Schuster), Taste (Random House), an IACP Book Award winner in 2000; It’s All American Food(Little Brown & Co.), a 2003 James Beard Foundation Book Award winner; David Rosengarten Entertains (John Wiley) and the best-selling Dean & Deluca Cookbook (Random House).

This month David will relauch The Rosengarten Report after a hiatus. Like its predecessor the newRosengarten Report will chock full of tasty morsels of information from David’s greatest meals of 2014 to an in depth look at 25 stellar food products imported from Italy to a search for true Vindaloo, pitting two chefs against each other to prepare their renditions of this popular Indian dish. The new Rosengarten Report pops with David’s special inquisitive, intelligent insights on food and drink.


The Connected Table LIVE! Hosts Melanie Young and David Ransom are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple who bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality. Join them Wednesdays 2pm ET/11am PT on W4CY and download their shows on demand on I Heart Radio under Shows and Personalities.



Savory Chatter on the Connected Table Live! Dec. 3

Her Miami Herald “Dinner in Minutes” column is distributed on the McClatchy Wire Service to over 6 million readers each week. She is the “go to” source for all things culinary in South Florida and the Keys and is author of The Flavor of the Florida Keys (new!) and Keys Cuisine.

She is the producer and host of the weekly segment part of Topical Currents, “Food News and Views,” on WLRN 91.3 FM and National Public Radio where she dispenses great tips on cooking for the family and showcases well-known chefs and personalities from around the world, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Lee Iacocca, Paula Deen, Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse.

She is an award winning author of over 30 books, including three recently released books covering diabetes friendly cooking published in cooperation with the American Diabetes Association: No-Fuss Diabetes Desserts, Simply Smoothies: Fresh & Fast Diabetes-Friendly Snacks & Complete Meals, Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table.

Linda Gassenheimer
Linda Gassenheimer

TV and Radio Personality, Syndicated Journalist, Best Selling Author, Spokesperson, and Food Consultant Linda Gassenheimer joins us December 3 to discuss her latest books, the culinary scene in South Florida and cooking for both your pleasure and for your health.


You have to love a woman whose Twitter description reads: Wife. Author. Speaker. Traveler. Biker. Fave hobbies: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You have to love a woman who recommends bread, Champagne, chocolate and romance as key ingredients to a balanced diet and lifestyle,

You have to admire a woman who has written three international best-selling books on the art of living well: French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, Women for all Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure and French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude

You have to respect a woman who reached the top echelon of both the wine and spirits and luxury goods industries as CEO of Clicquot Inc. where she is credited with growing Champagne Veuve Clicquot’s market share in America grew from less than one percent to more than 25 percent.

Mireille Giuliano
Mireille Giuliano

We’re talking about Mireille Giuliano, who has been called “the high priestess of French lady wisdom” (USA Today), “an ambassador of France and its art of living” (Le Figaro), “an idea entrepreneur” (Harvard Business Review) and “an art-of-living guru” (The New York Times).

We call her uber-preneur. Her savoir faire lifestyle has been admired, adopted and followed by legions. Mireille is out with a delightful new book, Meet Paris Oyster, just in time to enjoy holidays on the half shell. We’ll be speaking with Mireille about all things we love about food, champagne and France and her approach to la joie de vivre


Join Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays, 2pm ET/11am PT on The Connected Table LIVE! Each week this Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple features the dynamic people who both work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits, cookbook publishing and hospitality. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook


Toasting New York State Wines & Spirits Nov. 26 on the Connected Table Live!

finger_lakesWe live in New York’s verdant Hudson Valley where we will spend our Thanksgiving. Our November 26 show is dedicated to New York State wines, spirits and cideries which produce not only wonderful products loved by restaurateurs and consumers alike but also produce jobs for many people. Thanks to initiatives like NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Taste NY marketing campaign, New York is spreading the news about its locally produced wines, ciders, spirits and artisan foods and farm products.

We’ll be speaking with Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and Jason Grizzante and Jeremy Kidde, owners at Warwick Winery & Distillery.


NY_Country_MapRecently, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named New York State “Wine Region of the Year.” From Long Island’s East End to the Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes, the New York wine industry is a major engine of economic development, generating well over $3.76 billion in economic benefits to New York State annually, according to the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. Wineries—which mean new investment, new jobs, new tourism, and new taxes—have spread from the traditional regions to places never envisioned as wine regions. The New York grape, grape juice and wine industry generates more than $4.8 billion in economic benefits annually for New York State. 1,631 family vineyards… 373 wineries… 175,000,000 bottles of wine… $408 million in state and local taxes.

With a rich history and a range of styles, NY State wines are food friendly and versatile. Critics agree. Last year alone New York wineries won over 700 gold medals or above at competitions around the world.


Hard cider is the fastest growing beverage alcohol category in the U.S. According to Nielsen’s tracking of cider sales off-premise, sales of hard cider increased 89% or about $280 million in sales. Data compiled by end of April 2014 shows an increase of 78%. Cider Journal projects at the rate cider sales are growing the retail business for this category could top half a billion dollars.

Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery is located among the apple orchards of the Lower Hudson Valley. Taking advantage of the abundant apple crops, owners Jason Grizzante and Jeremy Kidde applied for a farm winery license and cider producer license in 1993; doors opened to the public in 1994. Warwick’s Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders, named after Grizzante’s father, are some of the first hard ciders brought to market in the current renaissance of the cider industry and are marketed in a variety of styles and from a variety of different fruits, including both Apple and Pear.

BOTTLE-SHOT-WARWICKIn 2001 Warwick applied for and received a grant to develop New York’s first fruit micro-distillery. Warwick’s fruit brandies and liqueurs have received numerous accolades. Warwick Valley Distilling partners, Jason Grizzanti and Jeremy Kidde expanded their production to spirits with the founding of Black Dirt Distillery in 2012, which produces Gin, Bourbon, and its signature Apple Jack. Named after the famous “Black Dirt” region of the Hudson Valley’s Orange County farmland more famous for its onion production, the new distillery also does custom work for fledgling spirits not yet able to make their own products.

Visit: 14 Little York Rd, Warwick, NY 10990
(845) 258-4858


The Connnected Table LIVE! airs Wednesdays 2pm ET /11 am PT onW4CY Radio. Podcasts are available at IHeartRadio



The feeding Season Starts Nov. 19 on the Connected Table Live!

Mid November marks what we like to refer to as “The Feeding Season.” Magazines show pretty dishes of festive foods and everyone talks about what to drink at the holiday table. We’re Giving Thanks to an abundant season for Italian white truffles, fresh cold water oysters on the half shell, crisp Hudson Valley apples in the orchards near our home and an abundance of wine in our growing global cellar.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, is your favorite part of the meal the turkey or the sides? Holiday side dishes take front and center on our show November 19, 2p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, when we interview award winning cookbook author, journalist and culinary educator, Rick Rodgers, who recently released The Big Book of Sides (Ballantine Books/$30.00). Indeed, it’s a big book content-wise filled with more than 450 recipes from traditional to inspired to Americana and ethnic. We’ve spent the last few weeks trying some of the recipes, often enjoying them as our main courses. Rick also suggests how to pair the sides with main courses and with special occasion menus.

Rick Rodgers
Rick Rodgers

Rick often works on the sidelines or, rather behind-the-scenes, as a recipe tester, consultant or co –author for other books. He’s written corporate cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma, Kingsford Charcoal and Sur La Table. He received an IACP Cookbook Award for The Chelsea Market Cookbook. His articles have appeared many magazines including Men’s Health, Food & Wine, Fine Cooking and Bon Appétitwhich gave him a Food & Entertaining Award as Outstanding Cooking Teacher.

With The Big Book of Sides he takes center stage in our book.





Join Melanie Young and David Ransom each Wednesday on The Connected Table LIVE! 2p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on W4CY Radio and iHeart Radio. Each week we bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind-the-scenes in food, wine spirits and hospitality.


The Connected Table Live Features Two Women Entrepreneurs Nov. 5

Women entrepreneurs rule The Connected Table Live! Nov 5., 2pm ET/11 a.m. PT from Asheville, NC’s Moonshine Mom to Las Vegas’ Leading Lady of Restaurants. Tune in to hear their dynamic stories.

Troy Ball, Founder & President, Asheville Distilling Company, maker of Troy & Sons

CBS-TV called her “the Moonshine Mom.” In many ways it was family that drove her to distilling. As the mother of three sons, two with special needs, Texas native, Troy Ball, and her husband Charlie were committed to creating the best quality of life for their family. After living out west, they moved to Asheville, North Carolina, for the climate, hospitable small town feel, up- and- coming restaurant scene and easy going lifestyle.

Troy Ball, Founder & President, Asheville Distilling Company
Troy Ball, Founder & President, Asheville Distilling Company

Troy and Charlie were welcomed into the community with customary southern hospitality which often included a bottle of “keeper moonshine” (what locals keep for themselves and share with friends). Troy says “I was shocked by how smooth it was, and how complicated the taste was. Nothing like the throat-burning spirits typically pawned off on outsiders. I wanted everyone to taste and appreciate this white whiskey that is so much a part of our history.”

Texans are known for being bold, and in true style, Troy decided she wanted to make “keeper” moonshine. She apprenticed with some of the region’s best moonshine makers and searched Western Northern Carolina for the perfect strain of corn to make her moonshine, the spirit’s primary ingredient. Just outside Asheville, she discovered Crooked Creek Corn™- an heirloom open-pollinated white corn that has been grown on the McEntire farm for over one hundred twenty years. The corn had become virtually extinct everywhere except on the McEntire Farm…believed to be lost from Eastern Tennessee since 1840.

The end result is Troy & Sons moonshine, made using Crooked Creek Corn™ and locally milled Southern white corn, a true small batch handcrafted spirit that any credible moonshiner would drink himself.

Today at their Asheville distillery- visitors welcome- Troy and Charlie produce three spirits: Troy & Sons Platinum Moonshine, Troy & Sons Oak Reserve, a dark spirit mellowed in bourbon barrels, bringing forth flavors of caramel and sweet white oak; and Blonde Whiskey, a smooth spirit blended from rare heirloom turkey red wheat and white corn.Troy & Sons can be found in restaurants around the country and in local package stores.


Vegas Strong: Elizabeth Blau Founder & CEO, Elizabeth Blau & Associates

Many acknowledge Steve Wynn’s hand in revitalizing Las Vegas’ dining scene over the last two decades, but the other hand belongs to Elizabeth Blau, who combined her industry experience and impeccable contacts to transform “Sin City” into “Dine City.” Along the way, many restaurateurs and chefs have made their fortunes not at the gambling tables but with smart restaurant business ventures, many orchestrated by Blau.

Elizabeth Blau, Founder & CEO, Blau & Associates
Elizabeth Blau, Founder & CEO, Blau & Associates

Her company, Blau & Associates, est. 2002, provides restaurant development and consulting to blue chip companies like Celebrity Cruises, Destination Hotels, the Kor Group and One and Only Resorts, Trump Casinos, the Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts and Wynn Resorts to name just a few around the world. Most recently she oversaw the redesign and reopening of New York City’s legendary Rainbow Room.

Blau began her career with famed restaurateur, Sirio Maccioni. When Sirio expanded the renowned Le Cirque brand to Las Vegas, Blau’s insightful work caught the attention of Steve Wynn, at the time CEO of Mirage Resorts, Inc. Wynn personally recruited Blau to fulfill his vision of revolutionizing the food and beverage operations at his newest venture, the $1.6 billion Bellagio.

As Vice President of Restaurant Development for Mirage Resorts, Blau persuaded a talented and high profile group of chefs to join the company and the burgeoning Las Vegas scene, including: Todd English, Michael Mina and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. During her tenure at Mirage Resorts, Blau opened Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi, and began to modernize dining at the Mirage and Treasure Island. After MGM Grand acquired Mirage Resorts in 2000, Blau became senior Vice President of Restaurant Development, overseeing new restaurant concepts for the corporation’s many properties.

In 2004, Wynn again recruited Blau to join Wynn Las Vegas, a $2.7 billion mega-resort where, as Executive Vice President of Restaurant Development and Marketing, she worked with management to oversee 22 unique dining, bar, lounge and restaurant concepts. In the process, they assembled an all star team of “chefs-in-residence,” a revolutionary concept that ensured the name on the establishment matched the working chef in the kitchen.

Blau is married to Las Vegas Chef Kim Canteenwalla. Together they own the neighborhood hot spot, Honey Salt, and recently opened the American tavern, Made LV. She also maintains partnerships in several other successful Las Vegas ventures, including Simon Restaurant & Lounge with Kerry Simon and George Maloof and Buddy V’s at the Venetian with “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro.


Melanie Young and David Ransom
Melanie Young and David Ransom

Each Wednesday food and beverage industry insiders Melanie Young and David Ransom bring you the people who work front and center and behind the scenes in the industry on The Connected Table Live. Melanie and David are the Insatiably CuriousCulinary Couple. Connect:


Oct 29 on The Connected Table Live

We have another spirited lineup this week from coast to coast Wednesday, October 29, on The Connected Table Live on, 2p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.

Our first guests are the bartending world’s dynamic duo, Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix, who have built the largest female bartending competition in the USA- and soon the world…. Speed Rack. Along the way Speed Rack has raised over $250,000 for breast cancer charities.

Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero, Founders, Speed Rack
Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero, Founders, Speed Rack

Speed Rack showcases not only the growing number of talented women in mixology while providing for the #1 women’s health issue in the country. One in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer.

The competition judging is based precision, time and accuracy. Contestants compete in timed heats to make rounds of cocktails culled from a list of accepted industry-standard classic recipes in front of a panel of judges and a crowd of spirited supporters.

The U.S. judging world panel includes such cocktail world luminaries as Julie Reiner, Dale DeGroff, Audrey Saunders and David Wondrich with a few noted chefs like Johnny Iuzzini, mixed in. The national winner is crowned Miss Speed Rack USA and received a scholarship to BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource) five day program and industry glory.

Speed Rack’s fourth national tour kicks off in Washington DC November 10 and will travel to eight cities before crowning the Miss Speed Rack national winner at the U.S. Finals taking place in New York June 7. The first international Speed Rack competition will start in Canada in March 2015 followed by Paris in June and concluding in the U.K. next October.



We’ll be switching gears to talk saké in the second half of our show with Steve Vuylsteke, Founder and CEO of SakéOne. A native Oregonian, Steve’s family founded Oak Knoll Winery, one of Oregon’s pioneer wineries, in 1970. Steve has worked tirelessly to promote Oregon craft beverages, working for his family’s winery, as general manager and sales manager for Erath Vineyards and serving on the Oregon Wine Marketing Board and Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

Steve Vuylsteke Founder/CEO, SakeOne
Steve Vuylsteke

He turned to saké in 1992 founding SakéOne, the only American operated sake brewery focused exclusively on premium sake in Oregon’s wine rich Willamette Valley, and importer of some of Japan’s finest saké. SakéOne has been crafting strictly junmai ginjo quality saké at its state-of-the-art kura (brewery) in Forest Grove, the heart of the Willamette Valley: Oregon’s craft beer-brewing and wine making mecca, since 1998.

In 2010, SakéOne’s Momokawa “Ruby” Junmai Ginjo earned a silver medal at the prestigious U.S. National Sake Appraisal 2010, no small feat for an American producer in a crowd of more than 300 Japanese entrants and a judging panel held to precise Japanese standards.

Shanken News Daily recently reported that “Marketers of top saké brands say the category is now making inroads into the mainstream, while also benefiting from marked expansion in its core Asian restaurant account base.”

We’ll discuss why saké is gaining popularity here in the USA and talk the ins and outs of enjoying saké with Steve. Fun fact: Portland, Oregon boasts the highest per capita consumption of saké in the U.S. A home run market for the state SakéOne calls home.


Melanie Young and David Ransom
Melanie Young and David Ransom

Each Wednesday food and beverage industry insiders Melanie Young and David Ransom bring you the people who work front and center and behind the scenes in the industry on The Connected Table Live. Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple. Follow them on



The Connected Table Live Oct. 22: Window on Kevin Zraly

Tune in October 22 for our featured guest and good friend, Kevin Zraly, internationally acclaimed wine educator and best-selling author of Kevin Zraly Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, with over 4 million copies sold.

Kevin Zraly
Kevin Zraly
Kevin Zraly has been described as a naturally gifted speaker who is both refreshingly humble and candid. His passion for wine and his engaging teaching style helps demystify the ever-changing world of wine. He began his career at age 19 as a waiter and bartender in a New York Times four star rated restaurant in the Hudson Valley, New York. In the years that followed, Kevin journeyed to vineyards in New York, California, and Europe learning his trade and developing his expertise as a sommelier.

After graduating college Kevin moved to New York City and a chance meeting with author Barbara Kafka and legendary restaurateur Joe Baum led to his hiring as the first cellar master and eventually wine director for the renowned Windows on the World restaurant atop One World Trade Center. Windows soon became the country’s top grossing restaurant and, with Kevin at the helm of its highly acclaimed wine list, sold more wine than any restaurant in the world. It was there that he established his Windows on the World Wine School now in its 39th year graduating more than 20,000 students ranging from wine novices and aficionados to top chefs and culinary professionals. Kevin worked at the Windows on the World Restaurant from the day it opened in 1976 until September 11, 2001.

With his first book, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course published in 1985 (an updated annually), Kevin began translating his classes onto the pages of books where his quick wit and capacity to communicate takes the reader through his worldwide journeys from grape to glass. He is also author of the first book that covers wineries and vineyards in all 50 states, Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide and The Ultimate Wine Companion, a compilation of 40 world-renowned wine writers.

His numerous awards and accolades include both the 2011 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and 1993 Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year; the 2006 Wine Literary Award, the 2009 Wine Professional of the Year from Santé, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Wine Council, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Wine Educators.

He is has served as a member of the Culinary Institute of America’s Board of Trustees since 1990 and director of the Sherry-Lehmann/Kevin Zraly Master Wine Classes and the Sherry-Lehmann/Kevin Zraly Wine Club in New York City. He has been featured in The New York Times, People magazine, The Wall Street Journal, GQ magazine, Newsweek, and USA Today and co-hosted the Food Network’s Wine A to Z.

We will dedicate the full 50 minutes to Kevin and will open our chat room to take your questions. To participate, log on to:

Hosted by Melanie Young and David Ransom, the insatiably curious culinary industry couple,
The Connected Table Live airs Wednesdays, 2p.m.ET/11a.m. PT on Podcasts are also available at and everywhere the iHeartRadio app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.


Meet Two Spirited Women on The Connected Table Live Oct 15

Melanie and David talk with two spirited women on Wednesday’s edition of The Connected Table LIVE Wednesday, October 15th, 2pm ET/6pmPT W4CY

Lizzie da Trindade Macchu Pisco
Lizzie da Trindade
Macchu Pisco

Our first guest is Lizzie da Trindade-Asher, President of Macchu Pisco, who with her sister, Melanie, have helped share Peru’s national drink with the world. A lawyer by training Lizzie directs the legal, marketing, and importing side of Macchu Pisco and its sister brands, La Diablada and Ñusta Pisco. Melanie oversees production in Peru. Together, Lizzie and Melanie have achieved 30 percent growth annually since founding the company in 2004. “Every day, I am inspired by my sister’s dedication to creating authentic pisco,” says Lizzie, who graduated magna cum laude from Duke University, worked for the 1992 presidential campaign for Bill Clinton, and earned a degree with honors from Harvard Law School.

Their pisco is an un-aged 80 proof clear spirit derived from a single distillation of fresh fermented grape juice (wine). It takes at least 4 bottles of wine to produce one bottle of pisco. It is from this costly process that an elegant spirit is born, one which most closely captures the essence of the grape. According to Lizzie, pisco is traditionally a sipping spirit. Because denomination rules require no additives whatsoever, pisco can be considered organic and thus should not produce a hangover, the mark of a real pisco.

Lizzie and her sister are active in supporting and improving Peruvian working conditions and women’s rights, as well as Latinas in business and education both in Peru and the U.S. Macchu Pisco established a precedent in Peru to support traditionally underpaid farmers by paying fair wages to the women who harvest their grape crops. They also ensure their socioeconomic goals are met from ground to glass by employing a vertical integration model—the only pisco company to hold such credentials—owning and overseeing each step of the production process. They also formed the Asher-Ezra Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to underprivileged Latino children in the Bronx.


Allison Patel Brenne Whiskey
Allison Patel
Brenne Whiskey
Our second guest is Allison Patel, founder and owner of Brenne Single Malt Whisky produced in Cognac region of France. Allison’s professional background combines arts and smarts. As a young girl she was a professional ballerina performing with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. After retiring from the corps de ballet she worked in national sales and marketing for EXHALE Spa, setting and exceeding sales goals.

Her move from the ballet barre world to the cocktail bar world is just another sign of her entrepreneurial spirit. Traveling in France pursuing her passion for good food and drink and blogging about whiskey for pleasure at, she discovered a single malt whiskey being produced from grapes in the Cognac region of France. Fond of fine whiskeys from lesser known areas, Alison’s interest was piqued. She researched the potential to import smaller production “world whiskies” to the U.S. eventually establishing an import/export company to focus on this category of distilled spirits.

Brenne (rhymes with men) is produced by a third generation cognac producer who was growing estate barley as well as grapes. The cognac was matured in French Limousin oak barrels imparting a smooth taste and fruit forward notes that captured Allison’s attention. Her talent for persuasion and sales helped Allison strike a deal with the producer who had only producing this special cognac whiskey for the family. Over a three and a half year period she refined the process with the producer finishing the spirit in XO cognac barrels after five – six years aging in the Limousin oak ones. The result is smooth, aromatic, spicy yet mellow and unlike any other whiskey we’ve tasted.

Allison was named one of the Top 10 Women in Whisky by Drinks Business Magazine and awarded Highly Commended in the Icon of Whisky award for Brand Innovator of the Year for 2014.


The Connected Table Live airs live Wednesdays at 2 p.m. ET/11a.m. PT on W4CY Radio The show is available on demand at and everywhere the iHeartRadio app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.

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Napa Vintner Michael Martini on The Connected Table Live Oct 8

Tune October 8, 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT as The Connected Table Live visits with Michael Martini, third generation winemaker at Louis M. Martini Winery, now 80 years strong.

We shared our first glass of wine with Mike and his lovely wife Jacque at the Food & Wine Classic several years ago. Then we shared a second…and third…of his singular Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon.

Michael Martini Louis Martini Winery
Michael Martini
Louis Martini Winery
Mike grew up in his father’s and grandfather’s vineyards, learning firsthand what it takes to make world-class wines. When he wasn’t in school in (back then) rural St. Helena, he was working at the winery, in the vineyard, or out riding horses. As an adult he embarked on a formal study of viticulture that reads like the vintner’s “grand tour”- studying at U.C. Davis, exploring vineyards in Bordeaux and Burgundy with the late vintner-mentor Andre Tschelistcheff and, of course, working side by side with his father at the winery learning to develop his own personal style to bring balance and texture to his Cabernet Sauvignon blends.

Mike took the reins as winemaker at Louis M. Martini Winery in 1977, ushering in a new era in wine making while honoring the winery’s roots and commitment to delivering big, unforgettable wines. Although Mike’s personal wine making style continues to evolve, he will always aim to create wines that are balanced, complex and well-suited to accompany foods.

“Everyone talks about massive Cabernets, but the great thing about Cabernet is that its structure can show power and also elegance, grace, and finesse,” Mike said. “At Louis Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon is simply what we do.”

Louis M. Martini Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Louis M. Martini Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

With the Gallo family’s acquisition of Louis Martini Winery in 2002, the Martini family continues its timeless wine making tradition while also experimenting with smaller production red wines under at its Cellar 254 artisan winery in St. Helena.

Mike shares his grandfather’s passion for the Napa Valley region and is a past president of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, an organization his grandfather helped establish. Mike is also a past president of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, and of the Trellis Alliance at U.C. Davis.

The Connected Table Live airs Wednesdays at 2p.m. ET/11a.m.PT on W4CY Radio The show is available on demand at
and everywhere the iHeartRadio app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.

Food and beverage industry insiders Melanie Young and David Ransom connect you to the people and stories in the world of eating, drinking, hospitality and travel.Meet the personalities behind the restaurants and products you enjoy. Hear from chefs,
restaurateurs, vintners, farmers, sommeliers, mixologists, authors, journalists, educators and more. Discover new places and go behind-the-scenes. Melanie and David are an insatiably
curious culinary couple who bring a delicious new approach to exploring the pleasures of the palate.
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