WASHINGTON, D.C.—September 28th, 2020 – The United Sommeliers Foundation (USF), a charitable organization dedicated to providing assistance to out-of-work wine professionals, is proud to announce the appointment of Tonya Pitts and Mia Van de Water, MS, to its Board of Directors, effective immediately.
“We are thrilled to welcome Mia and Tonya to our Board of Directors. Their combined experience, leadership, and passion will be immensely valuable as we navigate this critical time in our industry.” said Co-Founder and President Cristie Norman. “Both of these individuals were nominated because of their respect within the restaurant and wine industry, and their years of dedication and passion will bring a level of energy and excitement to a young generation of sommeliers eager for mentorship and inspiration” said Co-Founder and Treasurer Chris Blanchard, MS.
Tonya Pitts is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. Her 30-year career has been shaped by women chefs and restaurant owners. As Sommelier & Wine Director for One Market Restaurant in San Francisco,
Tonya curated a wine list with offerings by women, Black and Latino winemakers, and her list has received a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator since 2012. She established Women in Wine to improve representation in the industry, and joined Wine Unify as an ambassador, advisory board member and mentor to people in the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities who are pursuing careers in the industry. She is also a core committee member of the Batonnage Forum Mentorship Program for Hospitality. “I am so excited to join forces with the USF team. The work being done by USF is imperative to the survival of our collective Sommelier community.” Said Pitts.
Mia Van de Water is a restaurant industry veteran with a career spanning nearly two decades and was named one of as Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year (2016). In 2017, she joined the sommelier team at the acclaimed Eleven Madison Park, Michelin 3-Star and 2017 World’s Best Restaurant (San Pellegrino World’s Fifty Best). She is now the Assistant General Manager at Cote Korean Steakhouse in Manhattan (Michelin 1-Star & James Beard Best New Restaurant 2018). Mia passed the Court of Master Sommelier’s Advanced Exam in 2014 with the highest score of the year, earning her a Rudd Scholarship and the Johnston Medal, and passed the Master Sommelier exam (twice) in 2018. Alongside her operational experience, Mia is heavily involved in wine education, having created educational programming for the teams at both North End Grill and Eleven Madison Park, and teaching courses around the country for the Court of Master Sommeliers and Wines From Spain. “I’m thrilled and humbled to be joining the
board of USF. We in the hospitality industry love taking care of people, and in this time of unprecedented crisis, I’m very happy to have the opportunity to help take care of our own people.” Said Van de Water.
The Foundation to date has awarded over $600,000 to their applicants and is continuing to accept donations as the coronavirus pandemic continues. To apply for aid, donate or learn more please visit www.unitedsommeliersfoundation.org.
About The United Sommeliers Foundation: The United Sommeliers Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to provide information and immediate financial assistance to Sommeliers experiencing a pause or termination of employment due to circumstances beyond their control. The organization assists sommeliers nationwide and was founded by several of the industry’s leading experts with more than 100 years combined experience and knowledge. The organization’s goal is to positively impact the wine industry and the sommelier community for years to come. Please visit www.unitedsommeliersfoundation.org for more information.