2012 Nightclub & Bar Awards Judges
Jenny Adams worked as the associate editor of Nightclub & Bar magazine for three years. In 2007, she transitioned to the role of contributing editor for the publication, becoming a full-time freelancer covering the food and beverage industry. Adams also writes regularly for a number of other publications including The Southern Beverage Journals, Where, Men’s Journal and The Tasting Panel, as well as contributing a monthly bar column for the travel section of the Miami Herald, reporting on great bars around the globe. Her first book, “Mixing New Orleans, Cocktails & Legends,” was published in July of 2007 and was the official book of Tales of the Cocktail that year.
Jerry Bokamper is deputy lifestyles editor at The Dallas Morning News. He coordinates the newspaper’s coverage of the performing and visual arts. Since 1998, he's been writing a nightlife column as Mr. Dallas for Guide and for the GuideLive website. It presents a wry take on the bar and club scene with an eye to what appeals to an upscale over-30 audience. You can go directly to his site at www.misterdallas.com.
Since 1995, Lew Bryson has been writing about beer and spirits for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chicago Tribune and Condé Nast Portfolio and is a regular contributor for trade and consumer beverage publications including Nightclub & Bar, Massachusetts Beverage Business, American Brewer, Ale Street News, All About Beer and New Brewer. Bryson is the author of four regional brewery guidebooks: “Pennsylvania Brewerie”s (in three editions, 4th in preparation), “New York Breweries,” “Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Breweries,” and “New Jersey Breweries” (with Mark Haynie).
In 2008, he was selected as the winner of the Michael Jackson Beer Journalism Award (Trade and Specialty Beer Media). He has served as a judge on the Professional Blind Tasting Panel at the Great American Beer Festival, and he consults with a number of breweries on formulation. Bryson was one of the originators of the highly successful Philly Beer Week series of events, and he hosts events within Philly Beer Week. He is a frequent host for beer dinners and tastings.Bryson has also served as the Managing Editor of Malt Advocate, the country’s foremost whiskey magazine since 1996; he writes a regular column on American whiskey for the magazine, and is a frequent feature writer.
Lew Bryson lives north of Philadelphia with his wife and two children, and two Welsh Corgis. He prefers rye whiskey in the summer, bourbon in the winter, beer anytime and oysters in months with an ‘R.’
Dale DeGroff, a.k.a King Cocktail, developed his extraordinary techniques and talents tending bar at great establishments, most notably New York’s famous Rainbow Room, where in the late 1980s he pioneered a gourmet approach to recreating the great classic cocktails. Universally acknowledged as the world’s premier mixologist whose innovations have globally impacted the industry, DeGroff has been credited for reinventing the profession of bartending and setting off the cocktail explosion that continues to this day.
DeGroff has created many award-winning cocktails and is a leading trainer and sought-after authority in the beverage industry. He is also a founding partner of Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), a partnership of six of the world’s leading spirits and cocktails authorities who provide training and credentialing in distilled spirits and mixology. A four-time James Beard award nominee, DeGroff appears regularly in the press and media, writes a monthly column for Beverage Media and blogs for several websites. Recent industry awards include the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from Nightclub & Bar magazine, 2008 TOTC Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2007 Cheers Beverage Industry Innovator of the Year with his partners, for Beverage Alcohol Resource.
DeGroff is the author of "The Craft of The Cocktail" and "The Essential Cocktail" (Random House). He is the winner of the IACP Julia Child Award and is also the founding President of The Museum of the American Cocktail, a non-profit museum that provides education in mixology and boasts an extraordinary collection that pays tribute to the rich history of the cocktail.
A graduate of The Restaurant School in Philadelphia, Chef Brian Duffy defies the trends with his cuisine, maintaining an adventurous and unique flair with every dish. After working with some of the nation’s top chefs, Duffy spent the last eight years creating and re-creating Irish cuisine. Calling it “New Celtic,” he utilizes the best local organic meats and produce to develop eclectic twists on traditional favorites, stimulating the palate while appealing to the soul. Now, as the Corporate Executive Chef/Product Development for Seafood America, Duffy is able to reach a wider audience through the retail end, creating bolder dishes and still keeping true to a healthier, more exciting way of cooking and eating.
In addition to creating on a daily basis for Seafood America, Chef Duffy appears monthly on NBC Philadelphia’s “10! Show”. He also travels the country as the culinary spokesperson for the GE Profile Series and works with Residence Inn by Marriot for a series of videos showing guests how to maintain balance while on the road. He has been seen on NBC’s "Today"show, “Irish Stew Showdown 2006,” “Irish Chef Showdown” Food Network’s “Date Plate” and “Hot Trends”, Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” and has appeared on DIY Network, HGTV and Fine Living Network. When he’s not working in the kitchens or making appearances, Duffy has a thriving consulting firm, he teaches cooking classes and he volunteers his time with local shelters and kitchens.
During his tenure as a gossip columnist for the New York Daily News, Sean Evans spent several thousand hours in nightclubs all over the world. Aside from a number of formidable hangovers, the experience has left him with a deep understanding of the nightlife world and mentality. You're most likely to find him in a darkened corner of some establishment, Scotch in hand, dancing awkwardly. During the days, he writes for ESPN The Magazine, CityUnlisted and Gotham Magazine.
Rob Ghosh is the Creative Director for the Nightclub & Bar Group. He's been the magazine's designer for more than three years and has designed B2B magazines for more than 13 years. He's an avid cocktail drinker and his drink of choice is the gin and tonic.
Sujit Kundu didn’t grow up dreaming of being an artist or a major behind-the-scenes music executive though he’s now the CEO of a thriving management company and vice president at the world’s largest music label. Kundu started out by holding Rave parities, which were drawing crowds of 4,000. That success grew into him promoting parties and performances that featured some of hip-hop and R&B’s biggest acts at the time from Warren G, Cypress Hill, KRS-One and Mobb Deep.
By the time he graduated from University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), Kundu expanded his party promotion business into radio promotions and mix shows. He also created a production and DJ management company. Meanwhile, Sujit took a radio promotions job at MCA Records, and a few years later. when his production/management company disbanded, his partner kept the production arm and Kundu kept the DJ management side, renaming it SKAM (Sujit Kundu Artist Management). Now SKAM employs five people: three in Los Angeles, one in New York, one in Miami and manages a roster of 18 DJs, including big names like Vice, Irie and D-Nice. He currently works as the Vice President of Promotions at Universal Music Group and is responsible for an artist cache that includes Lil Wayne, Nelly and Akon. In addition to getting those artists’ records played on the radio, his duties include things such as organizing and overseeing promo tours and radio shows.
From a very early age Robin Leach knew he wanted to be involved in the communications world, becoming the youngest Page One reporter at Britain’s Daily Mail at 18. In 1963, Leach moved to America and wrote for a number of publications including New York Daily News, People, Ladies Home Journal, etc., before launching GO Magazine; he also was the show business editor of The Star and Rupert Murdoch’s worldwide publications for 10 years. His television work includes reporting on CNN’s “People Tonight,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous,” which ran 14 years. He also hosted “Gourmet Getaways” on the Food Network beginning in 1996. Currently Leach is partnering in a high-definition (HD) television studio production facility in Las Vegas where he makes numerous guest appearances on programs from the resort playground/gaming Mecca. In addition, his Total Vegas Television company produces Vegas video vignettes and a daily LuxeLife Internet blog.
Leach also is a hotel/restaurant/chef consultant and his best-selling cookbook, “Entertaining With The Rich And Famous,” (Viking, 1992) was followed up by “Healthy Lifestyles” (1995). He previously authored three books. He is a lifetime board member of the New York-based City Meals on Wheels charitable home food delivery organization and he workswith the Alzheimer’s charity Keep Memory Alive and the International Myeloma Foundation. Leach maintains a home in Las Vegas, but more often is traveling the world for his various projects.
Steve Lewis is what you might call a lifer in the nightclub industry. From his start as a club operator, Lewis quickly found acclaim and success as a interior designer, designing and building some of the nation’s most successful nightlife concepts including Butter, Marquee, Home & Guesthouse and SPA in New York City, Shampoo in Philadelphia, Stone Lotus in Chicago, TAO’s Opium Room in Las Vegas and The Room at Harry O’s in Park City, Utah, among dozens of others. It wasn’t just nightlife where Lewis found design success, proving adept at transitioning nightlife elements into popular see-and be-seen restaurants like NYC’s Amalia and Aspen. As the Big Apple nightlife scene continued to flourish, Lewis found a void in the media coverage of all things New York nightlife and knew he could offer an insider’s take while helping to sort through the gossip and rumors running rampant on the streets. Enter Goodnite Mr. Lewis, a nightlife blog that quickly captured a loyal following within the industry and community. Lewis still continues to blog about one of the nation’s busiest nightlife scene with BlackBook’s online network while also helping to give back to the community by serving on the board for the Nightclub Preservation Community and the New York Nightclub Hall of Fame.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer and wine educator in the Washington, D.C., area, and has been conducting customized educational and interactive wine tastings in the Metropolitan D.C. area for eight years. She is a frequent contributor to Wine Enthusiast, and her articles also appear in Imbibe, DC Magazine, Cheers, Nightclub & Bar and The Tasting Panel, among others. Magyarics is also co-columnist for the monthly Vino column in Northern Virginia Magazine. Her Blog, “Kelly’s Grape Times,” offers wine, beer and spirits tips, reviews, news, suggestions and food pairing advice. Her website, www.trywine.net, also offers wine reviews and tasting information as well as a monthly e-mail newsletter; follow her on Twitter @kmagyarics.
Magyarics completed The Windows on the World Wine School in New York City, as well as a series of Master Classes offered by the Sommelier Society of America. She holds an Intermediate and Advanced Certificate from the renowned WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust), having received a score of “Pass With Distinction” on both exams (the highest level of scoring), with plans to continue with the Diploma program.
Magyarics and her company have been featured in several D.C. media outlets including a profile in the “Making It” column of The Washington Post’s Sunday Magazine. She appears on wine-related segments on DC’s Fox 5, Channel 9 (CBS affiliate) and New Channel 8, and she has also appeared on WTOP radio’s “Dishing It Out.” In 2008, Magyarics served as a celebrity judge for the Old Ebbitt Grill’s annual “Wines with Oysters” competition. Magyarics is a member of the Washington, D.C., chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an invitation-only organization for women in the fields of food, fine beverages and hospitality.
David Pennachetti is the Founder and President of Wine Guru Services LLC in Dallas. His company provides beverage consulting, mixology, agency services and educational seminars for the hospitality industry. A 25-year restaurant industry veteran, his experience includes serving as beverage director for Maggiano’s Little Italy, where he managed an award-winning program for 40 restaurants nationwide. He is a frequent contributor to beverage industry publications and a panel member at industry trade shows throughout the year. Pennachetti is a professor at the Collin College Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Education in Frisco, Texas.
Robert Plotkin is an expert in the field of mixology and beverage management. With over 30 years of hands-on industry experience augmented by 20 years as a consultant and writer, Plotkin is no stranger to the demands of beverage industry business. He has authored 16 books over the last 20 years based on his proven policies, procedures and operational strategies for profit generating beverage operations. His books are used in university classrooms and as in-house guides for on-premise operators.
Over the years, Plotkin has written for state, regional and trade publications, as well as for a growing number of web-based sources as well. His publication list includes such prestigious publications as Wine Enthusiast, Santé, Cheers, Beverage Dynamics, State Ways, Restaurant Hospitality, Wine & Spirits International, Nation’s Restaurant News, El Restaurante Mexican, Nightclub & Bar, Beverage Retailer and RestaurantOwner.com.
He is a frequent lecturer at industry trade shows where he speaks on cost control, beverage marketing and how to increase sales. His sense of humor is as well known as his reputation for professionalism, which makes his speaking engagements as much fun as they are informational. In 1999, he developed BarMedia.com, one of the first websites for beverage operators. Plotkin also produces The American Mixologist, an online magazine dedicated to the beverage industry.
Jack Robertiello has worked with or written about wine, spirits, cocktails, food and restaurants for most of his adult life. He’s written for many publications including Metropolitan Home, New York Daily News, The Washington Post, Caribbean Travel and Life, Nightclub & Bar, Beverage Media, Beverage Dynamics, Santé, Nation’s Restaurant News, Flavor and the Menu and Americas magazine. He is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits competition, the New York Spirits Awards, the International Rum Fest competition and the Spirits of Mexico competition. He has consulted with numerous spirit companies and is the author of “Mangia: The Best Italian Food In NYC.” His blog can be found at drinksink.blogspot.com.
The digital content director of the Nightclub & Bar Media Group, Megan Hernandez has spent the past 10 years as a professional journalist. After graduating with honors from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, Hernandez was a copy editor and designer for The Daily Journal in Franklin, Ind., before relocating to Cleveland, Ohio. She then spent six years as the associate editor of HPAC Engineering, a Penton Media publication, before accepting the managing editor position with Nightclub & Bar magazine. Hernandez is BarSmarts Certified.
Jon Taffer, star of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue,” is an internationally recognized, award-winning restaurant operator, owner and concept developer. He's a respected industry "voice" with nearly 30 years of hands-on experience, and is President of its Nightclub & Bar Media Group, which includes the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show, Nightclub & Bar magazine and related digital media products. Taffer is also chairman of Taffer Dynamics where he acts as a consultant and development adviser to the restaurants, nightclubs and hotels around the world.
Michael Tipps began his career in food and beverage in New York City where over time he became the bar manager at the prestigious Soho and Tribeca Grand Hotels for Grand Life Hotels. It was here that Tipps was taught the essentials of classic mixology by the person responsible for bringing the classic cocktail craze back to the United States, Sasha Petraske of Milk and Honey fame. In 2008, Tipps moved to Los Angeles, partnering with David Foss to form Est1854 llc, a food and beverage consulting firm. Tipps currently extols his expertise on Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.”
Jeffrey Yarbrough is founder of bigInk PR & Marketing, a Dallas-based firm where he applies his 25-plus years of experience as a nightclub and restaurant operator to grow his hospitality clients’ visibility and sales. His first entertainment accomplishment (Concept Nouveau, Inc.) was Dallas’ original four-clubs-in-one complex, including Art Bar, Blind Lemon, Club Clearview and Red. He then launched Liberty Noodles in 1998, the first pan-Asian noodle house in Texas. In 2004, Jeffrey took his knowledge of the hospitality industry – and all the booms that come with it — and opened Big Ink PR & Marketing, using his experience to help other restaurateurs and business owners avoid painful mistakes and reach sweeping success.