Spirits Competition Judges
Dana Chandler, a second generation Southern Californian and graduate of the University of Southern California, I have spent 30 years in the wine and spirits industry.Â Beginning in the wine business with Gallo and Kendall Jackson I have held a succession of wholesaler and supplier positions managing all channels of business including on-premise, off-premise, chains and clubs.
In 1997 I went to work in my first entrepreneurial role for Millennium Import Company.Â At Millennium I directly participated in the introduction the luxury vodka category in the US with the launch of Belvedere and Chopin vodkas.Â While managing sales for half the US, I assisted in growing the portfolio to over 500,000 cases.
In 2006 I moved to startup company Russian Standard Vodka.Â As Vice President of Sales I designed, hired and trained the entire sales organization.Â In this capacity the startup brand grew from 6,000 to 180,000 nine liter cases in only four years
Reuniting with Chopin Vodka owner Tad Dorda in 2010, I helped establish Chopin Imports Ltd.Â As COO/EVP/GM, I hired all finance, sales and marketing personnel, signed national agreements with major wholesale partners and increased sales 87% from 2010 - 2013. Overseeing all aspects of the business, I take a keen interest in directing and crafting brand and marketing strategies.
In my second year as Honorary Chairman of the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition, I am excited about bringing my expertise and passion for fine spirits to this great event.Â
Married to Sally for 20 years, I have two children - Jay 19, a sophomore at San Diego State and Ellie 15, a sophomore at Upland High School.Â In my spare time I enjoy playing guitar in my band and working on my vintage1971 VW bus.
John Beaudette has been active in the beverage alcohol industry for over 30 years. Since 1995, Mr. Beaudette has been President and CEO of MHW Ltd., a national beverage alcohol import, distribution, and service company located in Manhasset, New York. MHW provides US import and distribution services to wineries, breweries, and distilleries throughout the world. From 1985 to 1994, Mr. Beaudette worked with PepsiCo Inc. and its affiliate company Monsieur Henri Wines in the distribution of Stolichnaya™ Vodka and other wine and spirit brands. During this period, Mr. Beaudette held positions such as Director of Planning for PepsiCo Wines & Spirits Intl. and V. P. of Finance & CFO of Monsieur Henri Wines Ltd. Prior to joining PepsiCo, Mr. Beaudette was Manager of Accounting for Somerset Importers Ltd., US importers of Tanqueray™ and Johnnie Walker™ and other spirit brands. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of The National Association of Beverage Importers Inc. (NABI) in Washington DC and serves as Chairman. Mr. Beaudette is a frequent speaker and lecturer at beverage alcohol events around the world and is one of the organizers of the annual US Drinks Conference and US Beverage Alcohol Forum. He holds a BS degree in Accounting from Villanova University and passed the Certified Public Accountant exam in New York.
Over 32 Years of experience in the alcoholic Beverage Industry
in all departments, wine, beer, and spirits. Worked in the retail
side of the industry as well as sales.
West Coast Sales Representative
1981-1991 Liquor Barn (10 years) California
Kristin Burley has been in the beverage business for over decade. She worked in event planning, promotions, marketing, public relations, and bartending before beginning her career on the supplier side. She previously worked for Anheuser-Busch and is currently working with the wine and spirits portfolios at Palm Bay International. Originally from Pennsylvania, she moved to Arizona to receive her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University. She then earned her Master’s Degree from Gonzaga University and wrote her thesis on Corporate Social Responsibility in Alcohol Beverage Companies. As a member of the Phoenix USBG and participant in Arizona Cocktail Week, Kristin is passionate about the cocktail culture in Arizona and across the country. She bartended while studying abroad in Australia, and has been traveling to wineries and distilleries locally and abroad in Italy, Austria, Chile and Argentina while increasing her knowledge and appreciation of the industry
Tricia Carr has been specializing in the beverage business for over fifteen years. She has learned the craft of culinary cocktails from amazing chefs and bar business geniuses in dynamic venues around Southern California including Providence LA and Black Market Liquor Bar. All of the experience came to culmination as Tricia landed her “dream job” as the Southern California Director of Mixology for Southern Wine and Spirits in November 2011. In this position, she is honored to work with the diverse community of professionals that the So Cal market offers. Recent bar programs include Susan Feniger’s STREET, The Villian’s Tavern, Shutters on the Beach and Red O by Rick Bayless. One of Tricia’s favorite professional activities is sitting as judge for cocktail and spirit competitions, such as: Campari 2012 - 2013, Espolón 2013, Las Vegas Night Club Bar Show 2012-2013, Don Julio 2013, Broker’s Gin 2013, Bärenjäger National Final 2013 and LA International Spirits Competition 2013. Tricia is proud to serve the bar community as President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild. Tricia continues her education through travels to distilleries in Puerto Rico, Sweden, France, San Francisco, Kentucky, New York and Oaxaca. In 2013, Tricia became a Bar Ready Graduate of the esteemed Beverage Alcohol Resource!
BS in Business from University of Riverside.
Lisa Copenhaver is currently the food and beverage director for the Claremont Club. She has worked in the food and beverage industry for over 25 years and has been a "mixologist" for 24 years. She has taught classes on the art of the cocktail and in spirit education. “I take pride in taste and presentation when it comes to any cocktail designed by me”.
Mr. Demasi is currently working with sbe entertainment based
out of Las Vegas where he is Director of Operations for SLS Las
Tadeusz Jerzy Dorda
Tadeusz (Tad) J. Dorda is chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder of Podlaska WytwÃ³rnia WÃ³dek “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.
In September 2010, Dorda re-purchased the worldwide distribution rights to Chopin Vodka, returning the brand to its independent roots after four years under MoÃ«t Hennessy ownership. Chopin was one of two Polish vodkas (the other, Belvedere) that Dorda introduced to the American market in 1997, in a joint project with Millennium Import LLC. The effort revolutionized the vodka industry, launching the global luxury vodka trend and advancing both brands to the top of the Polish spirits market.
Dorda’s acquisition of Chopin Vodka marked his return to his native Poland following a long career with H.B. Maynard & Co that took him from the American-based firm’s Eastern Europe Division to its Los Angeles office. There, he served as a financial analyst and marketing and management advisor to large international corporations, establishing valuable contacts throughout North America, Europe and the Far East.
Dorda began his career in the International Marketing Division of EMI in Windsor, England, after graduating from the London Business School with a master’s degree in business administration. He earned his undergraduate degree from the Warsaw University of Technology.
In December 2002, Dorda was honored for his contributions to the development of Polish entrepreneurship and export with the prestigious Golden Cross of Merit, awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland. He is the vice president of the Confederation of Polish Employers, which is responsible for international affairs. He also serves as a member of the board of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD-Poland, employer delegate to the European Economic and Social Committee, and a member of the Economic Advisory Group (IOE).
Dorda is committed to charitable activities and to the advancement of Polish culture. He has financed concerts, art exhibitions and Polish films. He awards scholarships for the best students of the Faculty of Marketing at Warsaw University of Technology, the Management Centre of the University of Warsaw, and the Warsaw Arts Academy. Dorda financed and coordinated the renovation of the Jewish cemetery in his hometown, Cieszyn, in southern Poland, and has been a director of the Orphan Mary Foundation providing aid to Poland’s homeless children.
In the U.S., Dorda has helped to raise the profile of the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival in California through a major sponsorship by Chopin Vodka since 2008. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire.
I am 36 years old and I live in Santa Barbara. I am married to my wife
Stephanie Fraser and I have 2 children - Harper age 5 and Willow age 7. I have
been in the industry for the past 15 plus years working in restaurants and bars.
I used to own a bar in Santa Barbara. I have held 4 positions within Youngs
Market Company. I started with the Alliance Group (Bacardi, Brown Foreman, Remy
Cointreau), was then a Division Wine Manager, Division Manager and I am now the
branch manager for the Central Coast.
Alfredo S. Gama
Mr. Gama brings to the trade, thirty years of food, spirits and beer product development experience, organizing and directing distribution and sales efforts through all industry trade channels. Following his graduation from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration, Alfredo began achieving his career goals at Kraft Foods as a Key Account Manager, Miller Brewing Corporate as an Account Executive, Young’s Market Company as the First Hispanic V.P. Division Manager, and Pernod Ricard as the First Multicultural Manager in charge of Hispanic, Asian and African American business. Alfredo joined Wine Warehouse in Southern California seven years ago as their Spirits Manager to help develop the WW spirits portfolio.
Star Hodgson is Louisiana’s State Mixologist for Glazer’s Distributors, and also serves her community as President of the United States Bartenders Guild New Orleans Chapter. When she is not in her bar lab crafting potions, or at her desk constructing proofs, Star is probably chasing her vivacious sons, Cypress and Drake, while attempting to hold a conversation with her lifelong best friend and husband of twelve years, David. She enjoys big cabernets, reading mystery fiction, singing karaoke, making dinners that require using every pot in the house, road trips and sleeping (not necessarily in that order).
D’Shawn Kerrins’ career began in the hospitality and restaurant industry. She has worked in the wine and spirits industry for the past 15 years for both the supplier and distributor network. As a sommelier, she was Director of National Accounts for Vin Divino and then held various positions at Southern Wine & Spirits on the West & East coast.
In addition to the above roles, she was the Area Vice President of the Western Region for Frederick Wildman and Western Regional Manager for Serralles USA. Her current role is Vice President of the Southern Region for Distillery No. 209, which is based in San Francisco.
Jaymee Mandeville grew up in Orange County, California then
moved to Los Angeles to attend law school. Over the years she
tried her hand at a couple different industries from entertainment
to PR to fashion, while working nights in Hollywood nightclubs as
a cocktail waitress. Eventually, she found herself behind the bar
in high profile spots like Social Hollywood
In 2013 Jaymee took on a position with Bacardi USA as Portfolio Manager for Los Angeles. Under this role she continues to create cocktails, lead brand and categorical trainings, travel to global distilleries, and participate in trade events. She also serves on the board for LUPEC, which supports philanthropic pursuits and the professional development of females in the beverage world. As an advocate for our industry she strives to continue learning and pushing our craft to a higher level.
Jon McPherson is currently the Master Winemaker at South Coast
Winery in Temecula, California. He is a graduate of Texas Tech
University, with a degree in Food Science and a second degree in
Chemistry. McPherson is also a certified sommelier with the Court of
Master Sommeliers, as well as a Certified Specialist of Wine. He has
over thirty years of winemaking experience, starting with his tenure
at Llano Estacado Winery in the seventies through Culbertson Winery
in the eighties and Thornton Winery in the nineties. Joining the
start-up South Coast Winery in 2003, McPherson has become a three
time winner of the Golden State Winery of the Year, leading South
Coast to the top of the Temecula Valley with over 2,000 awards in
its short ten year history. Known for making a vast number of wines
which run the gamut of styles from rosé to white, red, sparkling and
fortified, McPherson is never content to rest on his laurels. “Don’t
look for Temecula on any map, you just have to see it to believe
Michael Monrreal is the Corporate Mixologist for The Light Group in Las Vegas, where he creates innovative cocktail menus and beverage programs for the company’s extensive portfolio of nightclubs and restaurants including FIX Restaurant & Bar at Bellagio, STACK Restaurant & Bar at The Mirage as well as Red Square Restaurant and Vodka Lounge, Citizens Kitchen & Bar, KUMI Restaurant + Bar and LIGHT Nightclub at Mandalay Bay.
Michael Nemcik has worked in hospitality for over a decade in various restaurants and for top chefs throughout the country. In 2012 Michael founded red clay, an event service and beverage consulting company catering to the wedding and special event industries. Michael is also an import specialist representing the boutique Italian wine portfolio, PortoVino Imports. In Southern California, Michael can be found bartending at the award winning Osteria Mozza and for Chopin Vodka, as well as working as a Sommelier at Terroni in Downtown Los Angeles and West Hollywood
For most people, tinkering with and testing an open flame grill in your garage is not a good idea. But Mark Nureddine is not most people. And his efforts with a grill in a closed environment were the genesis to a company that would become one of the leading manufacturers of grill islands in the world. Under Nureddine’s direction and leadership, Bull Outdoor Products now provides grills, islands and grilling components to over 900 dealers and distributors within North America, reaching 15 countries and growing.
Nureddine attributes the gourmet cooking of his mother, and her Italian heritage, with helping develop his palate for great tasting food at an early age. In recent years, Nureddine has further embraced food and wine culture, including growing his own vineyard in Lodi, Calif., and as a hobbyist winemaker. Additionally, much of his personal time is spent exploring both local and international culinary endeavors, visiting well-known culinary schools and enjoying area vineyards.
To complement his appreciation for great tasting food, Nureddine has maintained several positions as a judge in the food sport arena. Nureddine is a Certified Barbeque Judge for the Kansas City Barbeque Society and has served as a judge for Bull Outdoor Product’s own Bull Burger Battle series of nationwide burger cook-offs. The inaugural Bull Burger Battle series, with events held at Bull Outdoor distributors throughout the country, served to qualify six competitors into the World Food Championships, the world’s highest stakes food competition, of which Bull Outdoor is an integrated partner.
Nureddine’s passion for food and his dedication to building a
better cooking medium remains just as strong today as it did when he
first began 20 years ago. Bull Outdoor Products continues to focus
on expanding consumers’ love of outdoor cooking and entertainment by
teaching them more about their grills and how to best use them.
Nureddine maintains a commitment to integrating the finest grill
material available with innovative cooking techniques, as shared by
the Bull Outdoor corporate chef and complemented by Bull Outdoor’s
repertoire of recipes and cookbooks.
Ryan Steely is a Creative Director and designer from Southern California, where his family has been planted for over 5 generations. Ryan owns SOA32 Creative and is no stranger to working with leading brands in the alcohol industry. Creating more than just marketing campaigns, he has found himself heavily involved in building new brands and developing many exciting new products.
Ryan’s taste for spirits has landed him a dual-role as he heads up the packaging design competition and has a seat on the tasting panel for the third year.
Toshio Ueno is a Master Sake Sommelier & Shochu Sommeiler, Jizake Educator. Born in Japan where his family has grown wine grapes for generations, Toshio grew up helping the business from a young age. Following his education in the US and employment at an international trading company in Tokyo, he joined Chateraise, a pastry and wine company as Director of Sales. In 2002 he joined Mutual Trading Company where he was Manager of the Business Development Department in marketing Japanese foods, Jizake and Shochu to the mainstream American trade. With his passion and expertise he aims to further promote Japanese food and Sake cultures to new international audiences.
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, completed twelve panels for a permanent installation at the Westwood/Rancho Park train station for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit system. Also, he completed a film documentary called "Resurrected Histories: Voices from the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park". 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.
Flori Cademartori is a graphic & fashion designer from Southern
California. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Design &
Merchandising, where she received her degree in Fashion Design.