Congratulations to Annette Tomei, IWS, for achieving highest honors in the Italian Wine Scholar exam, with Cellar Muse.
I’m a food and beverage professional – chef, educator, writer, and culinary tourism specialist. I have a master’s degree in Gastronomy.
I grew up in a big Italian American family – wine was just part of life. Later, I moved to Napa Valley where I cooked at several prestigious wineries and for winery owners. I’m an education junkie, so I studied everything I could at the time, especially flavor analysis. My wine studies made me a better chef.
My career turned to education. I worked with The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone and at The French Culinary Institute. My background in both food and drink, as well as history and science, gave me a unique perspective.
I now put it all to use as an educator, presenter/speaker, writer, and consultant. I write and produce travel-based cooking shows for an international cruise line and run private online education programs.
My first official wine course was the first level of the Court of Master Sommeliers, which I passed, but didn’t feel the Court was a good fit for me. I then did an associate degree program in Viticulture and Enology and completed numerous continuing education level wine courses at the CIA at Greystone’s Rudd Center.
Later, I received a certificate in International Spirits from WSET. I really wanted to continue my wine education but had a hard time making the financial investment. I knew that I wanted to specialize and that the single topic certifications were most intriguing to me. Especially since they are directly associated with the top three cuisines of western culture – it makes sense for my career.
This past year, I had the time and a bit of financial support and met an amazing instructor (Tanya Morning Star Darling). So, I finally took the leap, so many years later! I knew that the Italian Wine Scholar program had to be my first and I immersed myself in everything Italian during the course. It paid off!
I plan to take both the French Wine Scholar and Spanish Wine Scholar programs as soon as possible. I also plan to enroll in the Sherry Scholar program this December. Because I teach, I am also interested in the Certified Wine Educator program.
I work in culinary tourism and have a strong connection with Italy (in particular) and the Mediterranean. The IWS program has helped develop both my depth and breadth of knowledge and has given me a source of credibility outside my own body of work. I believe it will open more doors.
As a chef who writes frequently about food and beverage pairing, I’ve found a more meaningful vocabulary. I’ve also developed more confidence in exploring Italian wine styles and grapes that I would not have been exposed to otherwise.
I think it only gets better from here!