From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
Next up, a woman who really knows her wine.
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
Chances are good that you've heard of James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross, who turns out some of the Valley's best French fare at his namesake Biltmore restaurant, Christopher's. But as any true food lover knows, you can't have a great meal without excellent wine, so you can't really talk about Christopher's without mentioning the restaurant's co-owner, Paola Embry.
As the restaurant's general manager, sommelier, and all-around wine expert, Embry's in charge of building the Christopher's and Crush lounge wine list — an impressive feat, considering it's one of metro Phoenix's most expansive and extensive wine selections. Her work has earned Christopher's the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine for nine consecutive years, and if that's not impressive enough, Embry's also CEO of the historic Wrigley Mansion, which she helped overhaul in 2012.
Born and raised in the Vina Del Mar region of Chile, Embry's as spirited as she is knowledgeable about wine. She's completed the Introductory Sommelier Course, the Certified Sommelier Exam, and taken the Advanced Sommelier Course, in addition to having earned the Certificat de Merite from Le Comite National des Vins de France.
Today, she dishes on the best and worst wine trends and the most memorable place she's ever been.
My go-to place for a bahn-mi wrap in Phoenix is Slanted Rice.
The best kept secret in Phoenix is the wine membership at Wrigley Mansion.
The worst trend in wine was fruit wines and low-calorie wine. Wine is just right the way it is. But I'm really excited about Greek wines. Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece, is the perfect summer sipper!
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The most memorable place I've travelled to is Chamonix in the French Alps. My fiance proposed to me at 13,000 feet while trekking Mont Blanc, and I can't wait to get to Machu Picchu in Peru.
I'm all for more women in the food and beverage industry. When I started there were very few women in the wine industry. Now there are lots of young, talented, passionate women who are leading the industry, one wine at a time.
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails