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Monday, January 6, 2014

01/06/2014 - Grape Expectations for the New Year... and Food too!

What will 2014 bring us in Food and Wine?

Will we see more Molecular Gastronomy, more foraging for wild unheard of ingredients or more rustic simplicity?

Will New Wine Regions and varietal blends explode, or Old World purists becoming more in-vogue?

Our two guests bring their own perspectives, both masters of their own art. Gillian Ballance a Master Sommelier and educator with Treasury Wine Estates, and Nash Cognetti, Executive Chef of Tra Vigne, give you a glimpse into worldwide trends and forecasts.  Prepare yourself for the great year ahead!

Gillian Ballance MS, DWS
Ms. Ballance has spent 20 years in the fine dining and hospitality industry with previous positions in well-known Bay Area, Santa Barbara and New York City restaurants. In April of 2013, she joined Treasury Wine Estates as Education Manager for the West.

Ms. Ballance comes to Treasury Wine Estates after a Wine Director position at  Cavallo Point. Prior that, she served as a wine consultant & sommelier for  Bottega Restaurant in Napa Valley. Formerly the PlumpJack Group's wine director between 2004 and 2009, she received Food & Wine Magazine's "Best New Restaurant Wine List 2005" for the newly opened Jack Falstaff restaurant.

Prior to her move to the Bay Area, Ms. Ballance was the opening wine and beverage director at Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara. There she created and oversaw the beverage program, including maintaining the 20,000-bottle wine cellar for Miro Restaurant, recipient of the Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence”.

Ms. Ballance came to Santa Barbara from New York City, where she worked at Picholine,Cello Restaurant and Windows on the World. She also has acted as a guest judge for several wine competitions and conducted wine seminars and lectures. In 2012, she passed the esteemed Master Sommelier Diploma Exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers, representing one of 19 women  in the world. She received her Higher Certificate of Distinction as well as her Diploma in Wines & Spirits from the British Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Ms. Ballance has a BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and grew up in Tulsa, Okla.

Anthony "Nash" Cognetti
Executive Chef & Managing Partner
Anthony “Nash” Cognetti, began his culinary career at the ripe age of twelve working in the family business, Notarianni Produce Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The company, started by his immigrant Italian grandfather, eventually became the largest produce distributor in the state of Pennsylvania. Nash reports that all the children in the Cognetti family, uncles and cousins alike worked at the company as they were growing up.
When he was a 17-year-old high school student, he got his first kitchen job at Agolino’s Restaurant to earn money for college tuition. Later, while a student at the University of Vermont he supported himself working full time as a sous chef at Burlington Bay Cafe, a restaurant and retail fish market.
Nash graduated from the University of Vermont in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. A post graduation road trip down the California Coast led Nash away from his formal education and back into the kitchen. He hit pay dirt when he dined at Ventana Inn and Spa in Big Sur, introduced himself to the Chef, and was hired on the spot as a line cook. During his tenure there, he enjoyed living in a rustic cabin on the picturesque resort grounds. His experience in Ventana’s four-star kitchen made Nash realize that his passion was cooking. He moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the California Culinary Academy to formalize his education.

Upon his arrival in San Francisco, a providential meeting with James Ormsby of the Plumpjack Restaurant Group led to a series of jobs. Nash worked for Plumpjack for the next four years at three different locations: Balboa Café, Plumpjack Café and Jack Falstaff. In 2002 he established a San Francisco independent catering company, Rimini Group. Nash especially enjoyed doing charitable work through Rimini benefiting various organizations including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and Casa de las Madres.

In 2005 he yearned to live and work in California’s Wine Country, and found a home at Tra Vigne Restaurant in St. Helena where he became the Executive Chef in 2006. Tra Vigne is the perfect match for his personality, passion, talent, culinary skills and formal education. Locals and visitors alike have given him a warm and enthusiastic welcome in the Napa Valley.
In the fall of 2006, he spent six weeks as Estogier at Il Falconniere, a two-stared Michelin restaurant in Cortuna, Italy. Nash describes this experience as a mind focusing experience guiding his direction for the kitchens of Tra Vigne Restaurant, Pizzeria Tra Vigne Restaurant and Real Events Catering.
Nash, who was on the golf team in high school and college, still finds time to play golf at least once a week. He lives with his girlfriend, Gillian in downtown Sonoma, enjoying his new roots in the Wine Country.

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