An Oenophile and Foodie’s Slice of Heaven
By: Lisa Quinn


Toby Joseph, the new Executive Chef at the Riverside Hotel, has a full plate when it comes to awards and recognitions. Beginning in a gourmet market and delicatessen owned and operated by his parents on Cape Cod, a fire was lit in Joseph gastronomically.
As a teen, he studied at various eateries, picking up skills from each place and only leaving him hungry to learn more.
Graduating from the prestigious Johnson and Wales University Culinary Arts Program, Joseph then had stints as the Executive Chef at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston, (where he was touted as 2006 Chef of the Year) then moving onto Executive Chef for the St. Regis Fort Lauderdale (now The Ritz Carlton) and even leading the team at BOVA Prime on Las Olas Boulevard. He also lived and worked in Vail, Colorado at the renowned Lodge at Vail’s Wildflower Restaurant, which has won Wine Spectator 's Award of Excellence for the last 15 years as well as having the prestigious title of Zagat Survey’s "#1 restaurant in Vail" as well as one of the "Top 10 Restaurants in Colorado”.
Parallel to the Oscars of the culinary world, winning a James Beard Award is the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in America.  Toby Joseph is the proud recipient of this “Oscar”; receiving it for being one of the Top Hotel Chefs in America.
Chef Joseph makes a mean risotto and enjoys whipping up classical dishes that have unique flavors. He likes to make statements using his skills and is looking forward to seeing at the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival, dishes you may not see all the time.
With the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival comes a string of Wine Dinners. Wine dinners are examples of popular dining experiences offered by restaurants where diners enjoy a multi-course meal with a featured alcoholic beverage paired with each course for a usual prix-fixe price. Whether you are an oenophile or an aperitif novice, a wine dinner is a wonderful experience.
The Riverside is no stranger to pleasing palates. With an incredibly extensive wine collection and over five different options of dining, whether it be enjoying brunch, savoring dinner or having afternoon tea, Chef Joseph will only rev up the already wonderful Riverside by overseeing all kitchen supervision, creating new menu concepts and cultivating a new banquet menu.
The Riverside Hotel is located at 620 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301 (954) 467-0671







Jason Cotter, Director of Restaurants and Wine Director at the Riverside Hotel, is no stranger to fine food and drink. A certified sommelier, Cotter is passionate about wine and states that wines can be as diverse as a Lamborghini to a Chevy.
Cotter worked previously at Riley McDermott’s, where he and Chef Toby Joseph became friends and colleagues. Joseph and Cotter now work harmoniously side by side at the Riverside Hotel.
Asking what is “trendy” in wines these days; Cotter explains that Malbec, a red grape originating in France but also now grown in South America, Malbecs (especially Argentinean Malbec wines) are taking flight in the Unites States.
Cotter is shy in admitting that he is the nephew of the one and only Mr. Bam, Emeril Lagasse. Working his way up in Emeril’s South Beach restaurant, Cotter is by no means riding on coattails. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University, he has over 10 years experience in fine dining and wines. Cotter is firm in assuring that he prides himself on delivering a great product and boasts of the Riverside’s 2,500 bottles of cognacs, scotches and wines.  With an upcoming wine dinner focusing on the Iron Horse Winery, Cotter looks forward to seeing what other restaurants will prepare and showcase at the Las Olas Wine and Festival, but is confident that the Riverside will deliver strongly.
The Riverside Hotel is located at 620 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 467-0671


Dave Nicolas, (the owner, manager, restaurant and wine director at the Himmarshee Bar and Grille) is typing on Twitter. Not one to miss out on the growing trend of Facebook and Twitter members and followers, Nicolas jumped on the technology bandwagon to promote his weekly events of your usual Happy Hour and Girls Night Out at the Bar and Grille, but also, hosting a monthly wine dinner.
Pairing the culinary delights of Whole Foods Market with a selected winery (Matanzas Creek last month) Nicolas is first to admit that using the growing trend of technology has promoted his business; especially, his monthly wine dinners.
Also having an extensive wine collection (Over 3,200), Nicolas anticipates showcasing his menu items at the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival.  We talked about the movement of “Going Green” and its effect on the Festival and in general, the wine business. He explained that many farmers have been growing their crops more “Green” since the organic food craze took off a few years ago but doesn’t seeing it influencing customers choices one way or the other.  He wants Fort Lauderdale folks to realize what an incredibly palatable destination the Bar and Grille has become. Named a “Neighborhood Gem” on Open Table and rated “Excellent” in Zagat, the Himmarshee Bar and Grille is one to search out at the Festival.
Himmarshee Bar and Grill
210 SW 2nd St
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 524-1818






If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into a true Italian bistro, the Tuscan Grill should be your destination. Hailing from Venezuela and Italy, Gabriel Salas, General Manager and Wine Director of the Grill, Salas kindly offers me a glass of wine, while explaining its origin and flavors.  Salas states that the Grill has over 550 labels, with 70% Italian, 20% Californian and 10%, from other parts of the world. Winning Wine List’s Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2005 to 2009, you can understand why.  Not much a wine aficionado, I truly enjoyed the treat after I had a mini-education on it.
Coveting Gold Coast Magazine’s Award for Best Italian Restaurant, Salas hopes that guests of the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival enjoy the food and wine of the Grill and wants to assure that once one experiences Executive Chef Luigi Di Meo’s delicious delicacies, they will be returning to the Grill.
Premier Beverage works in conjunction with Tuscan Grill and Salas states they will be hosting wine dinners for the Festival. Perhaps in the wonderful courtyard and patio? Salas describes the Tuscan Grill, the wine dinner and Festival with such passion, I am ready to have that second glass of wine.
Tuscan Grill
1105 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301


Kirsta Grauberger throws a fact out that amazes me, “Every state in the United States produces wine”.  General Manager and Wine Director at Johnny V’s for 3 years, Kirsta gives me a true schooling in wine. I asked how one can taste the difference between a Manischewitz and a Domaine Romanée-Conti.  Kirsta has been cultured and tutored in wine programs for a few years and explained that there are accreditation programs and informal degrees, which often require blind tasting. In these tastings one may need to find blackberries and hints of coffee. Not easy. Even more incredible is another fact: “There are only 250 ‘Masters of Wine’ worldwide”. With that title, you can assure yourself you are hobnobbing with one who knows their “stuff”. 7 of those Masters are women and about half are in the United States.
Kirsta tells me she enjoys traveling for wine and touches on the worldwide organic trend, clarifying that organic wines are being farmed with less pesticides. And if you are looking for what is trendy in wine these days, that Malbec title pops up again, reinforcing that Jason Cotter and Kirsta should maybe celebrate their knowledge in wine trends over a glass of… oh, I don’t know….wine?
I ask what she is looking forward to at this years’ Festival and she is thrilled to see it getting bigger and better.
Johnny V’s has over 450 bottles of wine to choose from. Pair that with their renowned cheese menu and to many, that is a true slice of Heaven on Earth.  
Johnny V’s will also be hosting a wine dinner prior to the Festival.
I was going to ask Kirsta if I could indulge in sampling 50 glasses of wine from our Land of Opportunity but she said I’d have to be first in line at the Festival to even try.
Johnny V Restaurant
625 E Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301



“What’s the difference between a bartender and a mixologist?” is my first question to mixologist Brittney Chapman, of Yolo Restaurant and Lounge. Chapman explains that a mixologist is usually one who creates and a bartender is the person behind the bar whipping up numerous drinks, while simultaneously having a conversation with two patrons, moving the bar along and keeping the crowd happy.  Mixologists are often looking to create that trendy “drink of the minute” or a long lasting classic that has never been thought of before.
A Pittsburgh native studying Psychology, Chapman is a featured mixologist at Yolo and is proud to be a contestant in the Bombay Sapphire Competition, in which mixologists are striving to create a totally original cocktail using Bombay Sapphire Gin as their main ingredient.
Interestingly enough, gin flavor is derived from juniper berries. And it can also be distilled, using citrus or botanicals, like lemon and orange, or have a combination of other spices. Gin can be turned into anything, which not many other kinds of alcohol can claim. Whereas gin used to be seen as somewhat “old fashioned”, it has been making a huge comeback, with the Bombay Sapphire brand leading that trendy train.  The Tom Collins recipe dates back as far as the end of the 19th century, but new cocktails like Brittany and her teams’ “Screwball” are from here and now.
Chapman is awaiting the enjoyable atmosphere of the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival. This being her second year involved, she enjoys the wine tastings and fraternizing with the modern younger crowd as well as the seasoned veterans of the celebration. 
Yolo Restaurant
333 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL