Ranch & Coast Magazine

October 2023

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PEOPLE & PHILANTHROPY Nonprofit Promises2Kids promises2kids.org San Diego Food Bank sandiegofoodbank.org Philanthropist Joan Waitt Ernest Rady Bartender/Beverage Director Rob McShea Grind and Prosper Hospitality Gabriel Salcido Callie Sommelier Chris Russo Nine-Ten Evan Valle Sandpiper Readers' Choice, Best Sommelier: Chris Russo A frequent winner on our Best of Ranch & Coast pages, Nine-Ten Restaurant Wine Director & Sommelier Chris Russo's path into the world of wine was not intentional. While attending UC Santa Barbara, Russo served (unbeknownst to him) the great Julia Child, who ordered a soda water with five ice cubes and three dashes of bitters. Upon presenting the drink incorrectly, Child politely admonished Russo and asked him to bring her exactly what she'd ordered. Once aware of who she was, Russo, though embarrassed, found that he'd learned a lesson in the art of listening and attention to detail. Despite receiving his Bachelor of Science degree and a master's degree in biotechnology, Russo discovered that his original path to a career in biotech was not his calling. So, the then-server at Nine-Ten committed himself to pursuing a certification as Sommelier. He received the top score on his Introductory Sommelier exam in a class of more than 100 testers, and became a Certified Sommelier only six months later. Russo began working as Wine Director at Nine-Ten, where today he acts as a mentor by sharing his knowledge of food and wine with co-workers and guests alike. He remains an integral part of the team, recognized frequently by guests for his outstanding service, expertise, and wine recommendations. thegrandecolonial.com ranchandcoast.com 98 OCTOBER 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE

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