Our beloved late President at Ridge Vineyards, the wonderful Donn Reisen, used to tease me by calling me an “East Coast kind of guy.” I had come from New York, it’s true, and in truth, I was happy to be teased by Donn, but it wasn’t really an accurate description. I think he said it as a mechanism of differentiation; he wore flannels and jeans, I wore a sportcoat. Thus, I was East Coast.
Michael Torino, on the other hand, is an EAST COAST KIND OF GUY. Real deal.
Michael is one of our three Regional Sales Managers (RSMs, dig!), and he covers the waterfront. The Eastern Seaboard, that is! Dig this:
Michael Torino – Regional Sales Manager (CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, NC, NH, NJ, NY, MA, MD, ME, PA, RI, SC, VA, VT, WV)
The man travels.
So, to bring together the Somms for our very special #RidgeSomms event, who better to turn to than our RSMs?
Michael Torino’s invitee list is three-strong, and each is strictly top-shelf. I’d like to start introducing them to you, so that by the time we get to the 20th of May, you’ll be familiar, and ready to walk with them down the aisles of Ridge.
We begin with Fred Cabrera. He is the Director of Wine for the Red Restaurant Group, and thus a true landmark on the Florida Steakhouse landscape. Check this out:
Red Restaurant Group Director of Wine
As Director of wine, Fred Cabrera oversees the wine and spirits program for Red the Steakhouse South Beach. Red the steakhouse splashed on the Miami scene in 2008 and quickly became a destination spot for great food with one of the city’s most extensive wine selections. Since then the group has opened up Red the Steakhouse Boca Raton and Rosso Italia Boca Raton which Cabrera oversees as well. The Restaurant’s wine lists are recognized annually with Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence and -for the past 2 years- in South Beach Best of Award of Excellence.
Cabrera Graduated from the The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York with a Bachelors degree in Culinary Arts Management. There he studied food and wine pairings with some of the most experienced educators in the industry. His culinary background he uses as a reference to showcase wines while enhancing the food. As part of the curriculum, he attended Viticulture lectures at UC Davis and was the Graduation Commencement Speaker.
Now, all that right there is more than enough to rank Fred Cabrera at the top of the wine game, but there is more than meets the eye when it comes to a #RidgeSomms invitation!
I corresponded with Mr. Torino quite recently, about his #RidgeSomms invitees, and I got quite a set of tales when it came to Fred & Red. Behold:
How did you and Fred first meet?
I first met Fred while on a work-with, with the Key Account Manager for TransAtlantic (our FL distributor), Thomas Tremel. Since that initial meeting I have had dinner at Red several times, and visited Fred on a few more work-withs and tastings.
Can you describe the first moment you know this was someone you could build a relationship with?
A few months after first meeting Fred I brought my wife in for dinner for her birthday, Fred was extremely hospitable and went out of his way to make that dinner extra special for us.
What do you feel distinguishes Fred/Red from the rest of the crowd?
Miami Beach has no shortage of steakhouses and many of them come and go pretty quickly. You really need to be doing something special to have staying power. Red has managed to do this by combining excellent food, a well-curated wine list, and a great vibe that is still comfortable to have dinner in; many South Beach restaurants push that too far and feel more like a nightclub than a restaurant. It is a tight line to walk and Red does it very well.
If you went to dinner at Fred’s restaurant, what would you order?
I would start with Stone Crab Claws in season (this is Miami) and for my main course I would have Bone-In Ribeye and the off-the-menu Lobster Mac n’ Cheese side.
Lobster Mac n’ Cheese!!! Totally brilliant …
Ladies & Gentlemen, may I present the very excellent Mr. Fred Cabrera!
Want to know more about Fred and the Red Restaurant Group? Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!
And so, we invite you to join Fred, Michael, and all the other luminaries that make up the cast of #RidgeSomms, for an extraordinary two days of all things Ridge!
Ridge Vineyards Sommelier Symposium, 2013
May 20th & 21st, 2013
Just filter for #RidgeSomms, and you’re IN!