Fulton St. Fellowship (FSF)— the nonprofit organization founded by Chris Leon owner of Leon & Son Wine and Spirits in Brooklyn working to create pathways to employment for Black professionals aspiring to work in the wine industry — has officially selected its first class of five fellows: Peter Redmond, Loris Jones-Randolph, Tani Albert, Damani Blanc, and Jasmine Senaveratna.
The fellows were chosen from an incredibly talented applicant pool, which was ultimately narrowed down to 12 finalists, who were individually interviewed by the Fulton St Fellowship board— comprised of Chris Leon and wife, Cristina Leon, alongside advisors Michele J Thomas (aka Bed Stuy Somm), the General Manager of Greene Grape Wine and Spirits, and Lauren I. Gumbs, an executive recruiter in the social justice nonprofit sector.
“The Fulton Street Fellowship advisory board interviewed each finalist and ultimately selected five inaugural Fellows whose passion for wine, preparedness for the education ahead, and clarity on shaping the wine industry to truly reflect everyone who loves it, is not only deeply inspiring but aligns with what the Fellowship hopes to accomplish.” notes Chris Leon.
“We couldn’t be more excited for this inaugural group.”
The five fellows receive a full-tuition scholarship (valued at $10,000) to the Institute of Culinary Education’s Intensive Sommelier Training (which is comprised of 200 hours of study over 10 or 17 weeks, and in-depth tasting of more than 300 wines), alongside a wine-focused European trip and access to career mentorship opportunities from industry leaders.
“The Intensive Sommelier and Wine Training Program began just two years ago at ICE, and we are excited that in 2022, five fellows from the Fulton St. Fellowship will be joining our classes,” said Rick Smilow, ICE chairman and CEO. “This 50-lesson wine program is unique in America, and an ideal way for aspiring wine and beverage professionals to start or accelerate their careers.”
See here for bios for each of the 2022 Fulton Street Fellows:
• Peter Redmond (he/him/his) Peter Redmond (he/him/his) has journeyed through hospitality, food writing and tech over the last ten years. Most recently, he’s been part of Netflix’s Workplace team and built out food & beverage programs for Dropbox and Kickstarter. His education background is in interior design, having studied at The Art Institute of Philadelphia and Parsons: The New School for Design. Peter is deeply passionate about wine and is excited to begin this new journey with the FSF. You can follow him on Instagram at @thewinewasgood
• Loris Jones-Randolph (she/her) is an actress, singer, and hospitality veteran. An alumna of NYU with an MA, she has worked across stage and film, while working FOH at restaurants like Pearl and Ash, Gjusta, Faro and Emmy Squared. Loris is excited to merge her love and knowledge of wine with her media and acting-focused background to create new content and pathways in wine. Follow along @boozybushwick.
• Tani Albert (she/her) is a Manhattan-based recent graduate of Hunter College, with a degree in Music. Since her graduation in 2019, she has worked in hospitality with experience at storied NYC restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Cafe Boulud, and Maialino. She has already begun classes in ICE’s Intensive Sommelier Training, while she maintains a position at Gramercy Tavern as Wine & Operations Coordinator.
• Damani Blanc (he/him) was born and raised in Brooklyn, and is an employee of beloved Franks Wine Bar in Carroll Gardens, with experience at Prime Meats and The Farm on Adderley. With more than seven years hospitality experience, Damani is excited to join the Fulton Street Fellows, to further his own wine education and help create pathways to more young black restaurant professionals, fostering a more inclusive community for the future.
• Jasmine Senaveratna (she/her) is a restaurant service director and freelance writer. The longtime New Yorker graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Urban Studies before finding her passion in hospitality. She has over ten years of experience across restaurants in NYC, including Rhodora Wine Bar, Miss Ada and Extra Fancy. Her love for the industry is also seen in her writing and illustrating, where she focuses on food and beverage as a conduit of community and personal story for publications like Edible and Counter Service. She currently is the creator and host of culinary pop-up Lions & Pearls. Follow along at @Corked.Wines.Black.Lines
The Fulton St. Fellowship is committed to diversifying the wine industry, with the explicit goal of driving change within industry leadership, so that leaders reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of those who enjoy wine— thereby naturally inspiring the next generation of winemakers, wine sellers, and wine drinkers. Our goal is focused on creating pathways to employment for Black professionals aspiring to work in the wine industry. We do this in three ways: by funding top-tier wine education, leveraging existing educational structures to prepare Fellows with widely-accepted professional certification; by providing industry access via professional contacts, events, and networking opportunities; and by facilitating industry change, providing Fellows with valuable resources, such as education and training, to help the industry make the changes necessary to reap the cultural, social and economic benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To contact Fulton St Fellowship regarding sponsorship opportunities, application questions or additional general inquiries reach out HERE and follow along with FSF via Instagram @FultonStFellowship. To reach a specific fellow, please reach out via media contact.