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Passion Exudes in the Culinary World

Passion Exudes in the Culinary World

Carrie Strong | Chef's Blade

Passion is essential in creating a successful career out of food, wine and service. Professionals continuing their careers in food and wine have an amazing passion and understanding that allows them to teach others not only the greatness of the sensory experience but also the passion of life as it can be savored through food and wine. This article profiles the emergence of passion in a young professional from the restaurant business to the wine industry.

I had the pleasure of spending a beautiful afternoon in Napa with Ryan Hill, the Director of Sales and Proprietor of Hill Family Estate and Vineyards. Ryan is one of the most energetic, enthusiastic young professionals in the wine industry today. He began his journey as a server in Yountville, Calif. where he was born and raised. There, at the age of 17, Ryan worked at Gordon’s Cafe and Wine Bar where he met and served many winery owners and vineyard managers. He recalls, “We were open only one night a week, Friday, for dinner, which meant everyone came out to have a great time…and drink GREAT wine.”

By the age of 18, Ryan established himself as a server at the prestigious Thomas Keller bistro, Bouchon. Ryan loved the synergy created at Bouchon and was especially moved by Chef Keller’s speeches given at the French Laundry and the Bouchon Annual Meeting. Chef Keller served as a huge inspiration to Ryan by demonstrating his passion for the industry.

Years later, Ryan moved to La Jolla and worked at George’s At The Cove and Nine Ten. He was the youngest server ever to be hired at George’s because of the depth of his wine knowledge. He immersed himself in the restaurant culture, meeting influential General Managers and Sommeliers that impressed upon him the importance of having a strong desire to be successful in the business.

While Ryan was working in the restaurant business and learning about great food and wine, his father was in the business of growing wine grapes in Napa Valley. “I always asked my Dad if we could save some of the grapes he farmed to make our own wine,” Ryan remembers.