Starting out in the hustle, bustle, and high expectation world of breakfast in the US made moving to fine dining almost a snore. A three year classic apprenticeship would have led to a stellar career as a chef, had not wine interrupted.
20 years later the Chef returns, preparing unique seven course wine dinners around the world. Over two hundred menus later, without duplicating a dinner once.
Having teethed on punch cards in the sixties, writing and publishing software in the 80s only made sense. With an eye on making the complex simple, the tradition continues to this day. In the 90s it was the pioneering move of selling software as downloads only, that made a mark. In 2001 it was the very first applications for OS X. The iPhone was the next frontier and mobile has been the thrust ever since.
It was while training as a chef that the great epiphany occurred, palate memory is a rare gift. This led to voracious studying, and International tasting competitions. The perennial third placer would be applauded for consistency. The MW program led to more studying and the famed quote (upon learning he would not pass the exam) “With [his] encyclopedic knowledge [he] could be teaching the courses off the top of [his] head. Unfortunately, [his] spelling and handwriting are so bad [he] will never pass.” And so a career in teaching wine was born.
It took two years to formulate in print the lessons that teaching had taught about “How to talk about wine.” It took much less time to learn that even with tens of thousands of copies sold, there is no money in books. This didn’t stop the ideas from flowing and at last count the number of titles was fast approaching double digits.
Prepping, line work and dive were all in a days work at the Epicure in the late 70s. This led to the formation of The Breakfast Club where as owner, menu creation, ordering and managerial skills were perfected. The opportunity to apprentice at the prestigious Parlour Car taught classic Escoffier techniques. Banquet Chef at the Snowmass Club helped to refine organizational skills.
Never repeating a 7 course wine pairing menu with the International Pop-Up Restaurant Cuvée, which has made appearances on six Continents fostered a unique creativity. Jumping in as the head Chef while acting as Hospitality Manager at Domaine Bousquet Winery in Argentina perfected the art of the bilingual schmooze while learning to do the best with what was available.
The discovery of memory palate and all that it implied led to years of study, travel and research, which in turn led to importing Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon and Moillard Burgundy. Thus adding knowledge of logistics and legal wrangling to the mix. California Wine Wizard and Sopexa wine tasting competitions provided insight into the average level of tasting competency as well as adding a competitive edge to ongoing training. Meanwhile selling millions of dollars worth of wine as the Steward at Renaissance and Golden Horn restaurants imparted a first hand impression of consumer desires.
Studying for the Master of Wine exam, and later to be a SWE Certified Wine Educator gave a depth of knowledge far beyond any expectation. Creating and managing Mid Atlantic and then US Wine Auction companies not only gave the opportunity to taste and interact with wines throughout the ages, but refined organizational skills with the creation of all procedures from scratch. 15 years with The Aspen Wine Program helped to refine the craft of teaching in general, and removing the fear from wine specifically. Consulting gigs in several states in the US as well as in Asia and South America has widened perceptions well beyond consumers and sales, and into production and marketing.
Having a father who is bona fide computing pioneer not only accelerated a formal education in Systems Engineering, but guaranteed a life long passion for all things technical. 30 years of software design and publishing experience on the Apple platform has assured a deep understanding of Macintosh computers and iOS devices. Teaching the Mac one on one for decades led to a refinement of the tools for helping people overcome their fears and embrace their innate productivity.
Articles heralding his arrival appeared in the leading South American newspapers.
Named "Aspen's Wine Guru" by Aspen Magazine.
Noted for "Cheerful, Knowledgeable Advice" in Bon Appetite.
Aspen Wine Program recommended in Food & Wine and other major magazines.
Acclaimed "The Finest Wine Steward in Colorado" by the Rocky Mountain News.
Quoted as an expert source in media outlets around the world, including The Washington Post and nationally televised news reports.
Regular guest on radio shows such as World Talk Radio and Business Talk Radio.
Articles about Stephen Reiss have also appeared in dozens of newspapers and smaller magazines coast to coast, from Tampa to Sacramento.
“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death” - Auntie Mame
A passport thick with stamps and visas gives testament that this quote has been well taken to heart. While those countries with vineyards make up a bulk of the regions visited, a few beaches and mountains have managed to sneak their way in as well.
The pursuit of new flavors, new sights, sounds and people have been a lifelong goal. More than half of the countries of the world accounted for, the list to experience has shortened, but is far from complete.
Each new adventure brings greater understanding, more empathy, and a wider repertoire in the kitchen.