Tips and Tricks
Meet The Flavor Experts
1. Chef Melissa King
Chef Melissa King is one of the most exciting talents in America’s culinary scene. King placed as a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef: Boston Season 12 and won Top Chef All-Stars: Los Angeles Season 17. King has been recognized as “one of the best female chefs in San Francisco” and “40 under 40: Rising Star”. After completing a B.A. in Cognitive Science at the UC Irvine, King attended the Culinary Institute of America graduating at the top of her class. She is also a certified level 1 sommelier. With over 15 years in the industry, Chef King has helmed several Michelin starred kitchens in San Francisco (Campton Place, Luce, The Ritz Carlton Dining Room) under acclaimed names such as Dominique Crenn and Ron Siegel. She has cooked for notable figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Al Gore. King has never worked as a practicing sommelier, but uses her training daily throughout her career as a chef.
2. Emily Wines
Emily Wines earned her Master Sommelier diploma in 2008. Wines started as a sommelier in San Francisco at the Fifth Floor Restaurant, which was a James Beard Nominee for wine service and a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner. Then she was the Sr. Director of Beverage and Bars for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, and is currently the Vice President of Wine and Beverage Experience for Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants.
3. Luke Kenning
Luke Kenning has been a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers since 2007. He first discovered his passion for food preparing nightly dinners with his father. He decided to pursue his career as a sommelier after an afternoon spent at Pride Mountain Vineyards atop Spring Mountain in Sonoma/Napa. He has spent the last 12 years as wine director for Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco.
4. Rachel Candelaria
Rachel Candelaria, is the Lead Sommelier at Michelin-starred and Wine Spectator “Grand Award” recipient restaurant, The Village Pub in Woodside, California. Calendaria grew up spending a lot of time cooking with her grandparents who used to own a restaurant in Chicago. All of her favorite childhood memories revolved around cooking and her love of food evolved into a love of wine and the relationship between the two. Prior to The Village Pub, she was a sommelier at Spruce, which also holds a Grand Award and has one Michelin star, and the General Manager at Park Tavern, which was named one of San Francisco's "Top 100 Restaurants" by the San Francisco Chronicle.
5. Charlotte Randolph
Charlotte Randolph is Sommelier and Owner at Californios, and has been named by Zagat as a 'Star Redefining the Industry.' She began her hospitality career at the age of 16 in the small town where she grew up. Randolph studied Spanish at the University of Colorado at Boulder before moving to Mexico to travel and explore. She returned to the states and worked with Chef Val to execute the pop-up dinners. During that formative time, she matriculated to the French Laundry for her higher education and to hone her skills. At Californios, she has curated an award winning wine list that perfectly pairs with the cuisine but is also a personal expression of her style and interests.
6. Mark Guillaudeu
Mark Guillaudeu joined Commis as Beverage Director in 2017. His career in wine began at Glen's Garden Market in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Fresh from a Master's program in Buddhist Studies, an entry-level position as a cashier quickly became a management role assisting with the beer, wine, and coffee programs at the all-local, all-sustainable/organic market. The list there focused exclusively on wines from the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic US, so after completing his WSET 3 Mark left Glen's to pursue an opportunity to sell the great wines of the wide world he had been studying. This led to sommelier roles at the tiny Curious Grape in Shirlington, Virginia, and then roles with Richard Sandoval and Robert Wiedemaier's restaurant groups. Before the eve after his final WSET Diploma exam, Mark packed the last of his belongings and set off for a three day drive to California (he finished in two). Since then he has earned his Advanced Sommelier certification through the Court of Masters and successfully passed the Stage 1 Assessment for the Master of Wine Program while heading up the beverage programs at Roka Akor in the Financial District and, for the past three years, the two Michelin-starred Commis in the Piedmont neighborhood of Oakland. A firm believer in the power of a rising tide, Mark's top priority remains the students he has mentored over the past three years as he prepares to sit the rigorous Master Sommelier exam in 2020.
7. Jienna Basaldu
Jienna Basaldu has been working in the wine industry since 2009. In 2012, Jienna became a Certified Specialist of Wine, a Certified French Wine Scholar, and has her Advanced Sommelier credentials through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Jienna is currently the Wine Director of The Morris in San Francisco, a 2020 James Beard Outstanding Wine Program nominee. She has also managed wine programs for noted Sacramento establishments such as Ella Dining Room & Bar, 58 Degrees & Holding Co., and the historical Sutter Club. In addition, Jienna was a winner of the 2017 San Francisco SommFoundation Luxicon blind tasting competition, the winner of the 2018 GuildSomm Top Chilean Sommelier competition, and in 2019 awarded a trip to Bordeaux via the Bordeaux Supérieur Sommelier of the Year competition. When she is not geeking out with her fellow professionals, drawing maps, or working the floor, she enjoys traveling the wine regions of the world.
8. Catherine Walker
Catherine Walker studied abroad in Lyon, France, and there she learned a deep love and appreciation for wine. After college, she found herself spending weekends in tasting rooms, eager to learn more about the wine industry. This also led to helping catalog and curate private wine collections. Catherine became the wine expert with her friends — and thus CultureUncorked was born. As a way to merge her art degree and love of wine — she now hosts tasting parties, writes reviews, and educates her friends and followers.