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Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 Virtual Event Series: The Future of Hospitality

Hosted by Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 Tastemakers with an introduction by Wine Enthusiast Media Editor-in-Chief, Susan Kostrzewa


The Future of Hospitality: The realities of a socially-distanced world, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, have required professionals in all facets of the hospitality sector to rethink their businesses to meet the unique needs of customers, employees and consumers. Hospitality has been dramatically impacted by this necessary shift in lifestyle. How have industry leaders navigated this dynamic landscape, what do they predict for future and how can the storm be weathered? The panel discusses real solution and insight during an unprecedented time.

Why You Should Watch: This panel will offer real-life stories and strategies from tastemakers and emerging voices in the hospitality space on how they have creatively pivoted their businesses and careers during this dynamic time.

What You Will Learn: Attendees will gain insight on how the next generation is utilizing new approaches, new technology and fast-evolving platforms in their businesses, as well as how they are effectively addressing customer and staff concerns and needs during the pandemic. Also, discussions of what the future may bring and how to navigate those uncertainties will offer a glimpse into the possible hospitality landscape to come.

Original Event Date/Time: October 6, 2020 @ 3 PM EST

Duration: 45 Minute panel followed by a 15 min Q&A session

Introduction By:
Susan Kostrzewa
Wine Enthusiast Media, Editor-in-Chief
Kostrzewa joined Wine Enthusiast as a senior editor in 2006 after 10 years in the travel, lifestyle, wine and food content realms in Northern California. In her 13-year tenure at the company, she has led a comprehensive rebrand of the legacy media group, including a complete redesign of the print magazine, website and expansion of the editorial and tastings teams on the West Coast, Europe and beyond. Kostrzewa was awarded Folio’s Changemaker of the Year award in 2018 for her successes in content attracting age- and gender-diverse audiences, and her efforts in mobilizing California wildfire relief support.


Photo by Matt Sayles

John deBary
Author; Cofounder/Board President, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation; Creator/CEO, Proteau, New York City
Through his nonprofi t advocacy organization, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF), deBary tackles the industry’s “quality- of-life crisis” that includes low wages and racial injustice. Since March, RWCF has raised more than $6.4 million for hospitality worker relief related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The former bar director at New York City’s Momofuku, deBary published his first book, Drink What You Want, an empowering guide to making cocktails, and he continues to develop Proteau, the nonalcoholic spirit brand he launched in 2019. “I wanted to prove that you don’t necessarily need an alcohol-based drink to have the same intellectually engaging, food-friendly experience that’s accessible to all,” he says.


Photo by Matt Sayles

Sakura Yagi
Chief Operating Officer, T.I.C. Restaurant Group, New York City
A restaurateur, saké expert and proud single mother, Yagi’s day-to-day routine is a complex juggling act that includes oversight of her family’s 13 Japanese restaurants. New York City izakayas like Sakagura and Decibel are pioneers and two of the most beloved sake destinations outside of Japan. A second-generation restaurateur, Yagi says her mission is to maintain her family’s homage to traditional Japanese cuisine and drinks culture, while executing a dramatic revamp to modernize the family’s empire of eateries. She sees her restaurants as “a breeding ground for saké enthusiasts” that educates guests and cultivates generations of new professionals who will promote the beverage around the world.

Photo by Matt Sayles

Andrew Volk & Briana Volk
Co-Owners, Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, Portland, ME
After they lived for years in Portland, Oregon, the Volks moved back to Andrew’s native New England to be closer to his family and
establish roots. In 2013, the duo opened Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in the other Portland. With Andrew overseeing day-to-day operations
and Briana focusing on public relations, events, creative direction and marketing, the establishment has earned two James Beard
Award nominations for Outstanding Cocktail Program. The Volks also cofounded Heart of Hospitality, a program that trains Maine bars and restaurants on sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention, and are working on the opening of Verna’s All Day, a small market/bakery that will offer a wine program focused on women winemakers. Briana also runs monthly pop-up series “Hush, Hush,” and is working on a cocktail book that features recipes and essays from underrepresented beverage professionals around the country. Andrew, meanwhile, lends his efforts to raise the minimum wage, advocate against repeal of the Affordable Care Act and champion safe work environments in the industry.

Photo by Matt Sayles

Mark Bright
Cofounder/Winemaker/Wine Director, Saison Hospitality, San Francisco
Since opening San Francisco-based Saison restaurant in 2009, Bright has kept busy and built quite the successful empire within the Saison Hospitality portfolio of establishments. In addition to the original venue, the group now includes Angler, Angler LA and Saison Smokehouse, with Bright overseeing beverage programs for all. There’s also Saison Cellar, an online platform where visitors can procure rare selections from around the world or sign up for a guided virtual tasting with Bright. A passionate champion of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, he also founded and serves as the winemaker for Saison Winery, where he craft s single-vineyard expressions and small-production wines.




View the full list of 2020 Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 Tastemakers