Spirits Competition Judges
Joining this year's eclectic council are Tadeusz J. Dorda, Brian Bowden, Chris Snyder and Jessica Gelt. Dorda is chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder of Podlaska Wytwórnia Wódek “Polmos” S.A., the historic distillery in eastern Poland that owns and produces Chopin Vodka. A champion of authentic Polish vodka, Dorda is working steadfastly to change Western perceptions of a spirit that is far more complex, with many more subtleties in taste and quality, than is widely recognized. Bowden, vice president Spirits, Beer, Beverages & Tobacco, GMM New Markets for BevMo!, has more than 32 years of experience in the beverage industry in all departments: wine, beer and spirits. He has worked in the retail side of the industry as well as sales.
Snyder is president of TAPS Fish House & Brewery and The Catch Restaurant. Under his leadership, the restaurant’s revenues grew from $5 million to nearly $10 million in annual sales. Gelt is a food and nightlife writer for the Los Angeles Times. She has reported extensively on cocktails and cocktail culture. Her cocktail recipe column, “Destination: Cocktail,” runs twice a month in the Saturday section of the paper.
The competition, May 20-22, is led by Chairman Dana Chandler, vice president and general manager of Chopin Vodka. Chandler has spent 30 years in the wine and spirits industry. Beginning with Gallo Wine and Kendall-Jackson, he has held a succession of wholesaler and supplier positions managing all channels of business, including on-premise, off-premise, chains and clubs.
“I am truly excited to be this year’s Honorary Chairman of the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition. Fairplex has a long tradition of wine and spirits competition excellence that we intend to build upon with this year’s event,” said Chandler. “We have assembled a best of class judges panel featuring buyers, owners and representatives from all aspects of the spirits industry including distribution, retail, on-premise, production, mixology, design and media. This diversity will bring balance, focus and growth to our tasting. Our goal is to build the LAISC into the best, largest and most prestigious spirits competition not only California but the U.S.”
Abel Alejandre is an international artist who works with several mediums including film, painting, drawing, and printmaking. He has worked as an Illustrator, Designer, Production Manager, Art Director and Senior Creative Manager the past twenty plus years. He immigrated to Los Angeles in 1975 from Apatzingán, Michoacán, Mexico with his mother and his siblings. In 1984, Alejandre painted his first mural for the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics. More recently, he completed a film documentary called "Resurrected Histories: Voices from the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park". Also, was selected to create the artwork for a Metro station as part of the “Expo Line” on Exposition and Westwood. Although, most of his work deals with issues of masculinity, Alejandre also deals with contemporary: culture, class, politics, and race. He uses his art as a buffer between himself and the world. Alejandre creates aesthetically inviting work on the surface, underneath, he confronts his own issues with his emotional experiences and his understanding of the human experience. Alejandre's work is a personal experiential journey with himself, his viewers, and his art.
The judging panel also includes:
- Kevin J. Johnson, vice president of the Golden State Chain Division at Southern Wine & Spirits.
- Josh Wand, founder and motivator-in-chief of BevForce, a boutique recruiting and staffing agency that specializes in hiring strategies and organizational structuring for beverage companies.
- Michael Nemick, a restaurant veteran and well-traveled foodie. He is a managing partner in red clay industries, a cocktail consulting and hospitality organization and is currently working as a managing sommelier at West Hollywood restaurant Sirena.
- Ryan Steely, a creative design entrepreneur working with leading brands in the alcohol industry.
- Toshio Ueno, a Master Sake Sommelier & Shochu Sommeiler, Jizake Educator.
- Tricia Alley, director of mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits, Southern California, United States Bartenders Guild Los Angeles Chapter President
- Tim Moore, vice president Central Coast Branch Manager Young’s Market
Caterina Miltenberger, CSS , Corporate Mixologist- Glazer’s
Over the past 18 years, Caterina Miltenberger has forged a reputation as one of Dallas' most well-known mixologists, captivating audiences with her refined knowledge of spirits and trend-setting cocktails. Cat is a woman of resource. Her innate ability to combine spirits and essences with style has made her a treasured well-spring with restaurants, distillers and importers. D Magazine, InStyle Magazine, and Fort Worth Star Telegram have all featured Cat for her cocktails using ingredients indigenous to Texas. Not only does Cat work on national, regional and key accounts, you can also find her cocktails at the local level in 4-star dining restaurants. She is affectionately known as “The Liquide Chef” to her close friends, co-workers, and clients. “When it comes to making a drink, I think ‘Chanel’ perfection...simple and elegant is my style.”
- - 2011 Iron Mixologist Winner: Best Long Drink, Best Dessert Drink and Best of Show
The competition is accepting entries through April 15. For more information, visit www.laspiritscomp.com.
The public will have its first opportunity to taste the award winners at Cheers – L.A.’s Wine, Spirits, Beer & Food Festival, celebrating all the winners of the Los Angeles International Wine, Spirits, Beer and Extra Virgin Olive Oil competitions. Enjoy the fun June 22 at Fairplex. For tickets, visit www.tlcfairplex.com/cheers.