SYA Foodies, Cocktail Crafters and More
Bakers, butchers, chefs, food truckers, mixologists, microbrewers. Here's where you can find alumni in the culinary world.
When Andrew Ahn FR'97 moved to L.A. from Philadelphia, one of the first questions he asked was, “Where can I get a good cheesesteak in L.A.?” He had no answer, and Boo’s Philly Cheesesteaks was born in 2011. (It's definitely our go-to for cheesesteak when we're in the area). Read this to see how Andrew has used his Philly hustle and filmmaker’s eye to build a restaurant brand and tell a story of family, hard work and straight up comfort food.
Alison Sokol Blosser FR'97 is CEO and co-president of Sokol Blosser Winery based in Willamette Valley of Oregon. The daughter of founders Susan Sokol Blosser and Bill Blosser, Alison feels a deep connection to the family vineyard and winery. Leading the business, she collaborates with her winemaker brother, Alex, to guide its strategic future while directly overseeing sales, marketing and all administrative functions, including accounting, finance, IT and human resources. Alison carries the torch in Sokol Blosser Winery’s sustainability efforts and commitment to social responsibility, most recently overseeing the notable achievement of the Winery’s B Corp certification. Following a few years in public relations and marketing communications, she returned to the family winery and assumed the role of director of marketing. Then, in 2008, she and her brother were named co-presidents, transitioning the family winery to the next generation. Alison is involved in the Oregon wine industry as a past president of Oregon Pinot Camp and Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association, as well as a member of YPO and Women for Winesense. Alison was featured on our January 2021 panel, "Fermenting Change: Alumnae in the Wine Industry."
Yann de Rochefort ES'85 is the founder and CEO of Boqueria restaurant, which has seven locations in New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Nashville. Boston is planned for 2023 in the Seaport District (and the SYA home office staff couldn't be more excited!). The first Boqueria opened in 2006 in New York City’s Flatiron neighborhood, receiving a two-star review (“very good”) from Frank Bruni at The New York Times. Yann was born and raised in France, exploring Spain during childhood summers and later as a student at SYA Spain, when our campus was located in Barcelona.
Christian Ebersol IT'06 quit his job to pursue his dream to build a company that would make a positive impact on climate change. Today, he is the co-founder and CEO of 99 Counties, a whole animal brand connecting consumers to local family farms. Through fair pricing, supply chain coordination, marketing, and delivery, 99 Counties enables farmers to reclaim their independence, focusing on farming in a way that’s better for land, animals, people and the planet.
Jessica Green FR'85 is freelance wine writer and educator who came to wine studies via a background in scholarship and journalism. During her year in Rennes, she toured a vineyard for the first time and developed a life-long interest in wine. She was a Morehead-Cain scholar at the University of Chapel Hill and earned an MA in Renaissance Studies at Yale. Subsequently, Jessica studied at the University of Bologna and later spent a year in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. For five years, she lived in Lyon, France, between Beaujolais and the wines of the Northern Rhone. She earned the WSET Diploma in 2011 in Mâcon, France and is currently a Master of Wine. At International Wine Center, Jessica currently teaches WSET Level 2 Intermediate classes through to Level 4 Diploma classes. In case you need a tip on how to drink French wine, watch this video.
Carey Hynes CN'05 is behind the small lively spot, Jaguar Sun, that’s part of the transformation of how people eat and drink in Downtown Miami, which in a blink of an eye became a trendy neighborhood yet again. Carey started taking his cooking career seriously in Paris while working in a kitchen while also working two bartending jobs on the side, before moving to New York and cooking at well-known establishments like Per Se and Momofuko, then in San Francisco where he was at Charter Oak, before making the move to Miami. Chef Carey takes care of every dish that comes out of the kitchen.
After college, Dylan Kaplan CN'10 and his girlfriend thought it was time to "grow up" in a food sense and limit their sugar intake. They realized everything they loved eating growing up was suddenly off limits and their yearning for childhood comfort food was what led them to start Schoolyard Snacks. By reinventing a timeless favorite -- cereal -- and turning it into a guilt-free treat, they felt better about their new approach to low carb, high protein and no sugar. Their keto-friendly line now includes everything from cereal to cheese puffs to protein bars to pasta.
Ted Lemon FR'75 is a lifelong winemaker who began his career by receiving an Enology degree from the Université de Dijon in 1981. He is the first American to ever be hired as winemaker and vineyard manager of an estate in Burgundy, Domaine Guy Roulot in Meursault, where he resided until 1984. He worked at many prestigious estates in Burgundy: Domaine Georges Roumier, Domaine Bruno Clair, Domaine Parent, Domaine De Villaine, Domaine Delorme and Domaine Dujac. Upon returning to the United States, Ted worked as a winemaker in Napa Valley and became consultant to a number of prominent wineries in California, Oregon and New Zealand before founding Littorai. In 2010, Ted was selected as Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle. He has been nominated multiple times for a James Beard award as Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year. Ted’s philosophy of terroir winegrowing is cited in Burgundy’s application to the United Nations as a World Heritage Site.
In 2011, Kate McAleer FR'04 CN'05 had a great idea: break into the organic foods market with a good-for-you candy bar, a sector of the exploding industry that hadn’t yet been tapped. Within her first year of business, she had a contract with Whole Foods. A decade later Bixby Chocolate’s artisanal chocolate products are now in Hannaford, Walmart, TJ Maxx and L.L.Bean, among others. You can also shop online. Located in Rockland, Maine, Kate's life experiences including her SYA years in Rennes and Beijing, have shaped every aspect of the award-winning Bixby Chocolate manufacturing company. Kate’s strong relationships with her family and her community have been the inspiration for her recipes. She is also motivated by leading an active, health-conscious lifestyle. After graduating from New York University, Kate combined her interests in cultural history with the culinary arts. She earned diplomas in pastry arts and culinary management from the esteemed Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. She also earned certificates from the Ecole Chocolate in Vancouver, British Columbia. Ever determined to improve herself and her skills, Kate is now a candidate for an MBA in Food Marketing from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. [Missing caramels au beurre sale from Rennes? A bag of her dark chocolate sea salt caramels will satisfy that need.]
Michael McCarty FR’70 has been called the father of contemporary California cuisine and is one of America’s most widely respected restaurateurs. In 1979, at the age of 25, McCarty founded Michael's restaurant in Santa Monica, California. An instant success, Michael’s Santa Monica remains one of the most acclaimed, popular restaurants in the United States—as does Michael’s New York, which opened in 1989. Both restaurants are renowned for their fresh, seasonal, contemporary American cuisine. Their award-winning wine lists feature over 800 labels from around the world—including the latest vintages from The Malibu Vineyard, which surrounds McCarty’s home on a hillside overlooking the Pacific. Michael has also shared his approach to food, wine, and entertaining in two cookbooks, most recently Welcome to Michael’s. Some of Michael's kitchen celebrated alumni include Roy Yamaguchi, Jonathan Waxman, Sang Yoon, Mark Peel and Brooke Williamson.
Annie Myers IT'03 is founder of Myers Produce, a regional distributor connecting small, primarily organic farmers throughout Vermont and Western Massachusetts with wholesale customers in New York City and the Boston area. After earning a college degree from New York University, Myers moved up north to Vermont and learned to farm. Years later, with several harvest seasons under her belt, she launched her new company in 2013. Today, Myers works to increase farmers' access to the urban markets within their regions and to provide a convenient, appropriately-scaled outlet for the food that they grow, all through Myers Produce.
Stephanie Nass FR'08 is better known as Chefanie. A New York-based caterer, culinary influencer and designer, Stephanie studied the culinary arts as a young woman in France. In 2014, she founded Victory Club to bring together friends of friends over the culinary and visual arts. In 2016, she created Chefanie Sheets, an innovative dessert accessory to elevate any store bought or homemade dessert. In 2019, she launched tableware and accessories for home entertaining. Her eye catching designs have been featured on The Today Show and in several publications, including the New York Times, Town & Country Magazine and O Magazine.
Alix Peabody IT'07 spent her life savings to launch Bev after she started throwing ticketed pool parties when she needed to raise money for medical bills. She founded Bev in 2017 to change not only the drinks in our hands, but to inspire kinder, more inclusive fun in drinking culture at large. With a variety of refreshingly "crisp, dry, & a lil’ fizzy" zero-sugar canned wines, Bev is on a mission to transform the industry by creating a voice for women in a fun, inclusive and approachable way. In March 2021, E. & J. Gallo Winery became the official distributor of Bev products. Fellow SYA Italy classmate Alex Butti is also part of the leadership team serving as the VP of People.
Maggie Tillman ES'01 is co-owner and director of sales and marketing for her family winery, Alta Colina, based in Paso Robles, Calif. Her father, Bob, purchased the 130-acre parcel in Paso Robles’ Adelaida District that would become Alta Colina Vineyard, planting 31 acres and eight Rhone varieties that make up the vineyard. Following the first harvest in 2007, the first bottle was sold in 2009 and the estate winery opened in 2014. From launching an award-winning retro-trailer campsite in the vineyard to creating the uber-popular daily dose of dance on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maggie is a true master marketer. Maggie’s creative approach has made her one of the most sought after wine hospitality speakers in the American wine industry. Maggie was featured on our January 2021 panel, "Fermenting Change: Alumnae in the Wine Industry."
Whitney Turley FR'09 is a production assistant at her family's winery, Turley Wine Cellars. This upbringing instilled in her a love for working with the land, and lead her to study Environmental Analysis at Pitzer College. After working on organic farms in California, she moved to NYC and has since joined her older sister, Christina, on the Turley sales team, traveling on behalf of the winery and telling the Turley story.