Joanne Weir Maestra de Cocina
Joanne Weir is a celebrity chef, having recently completed 30 episodes for her PBS cooking series, “Joanne Weir Gets Fresh”, where she turns her home kitchen into the classroom as she works side-by-side with a real-world student for a hands-on cooking lesson. This series will begin airing January 2015 nationwide and it marks Joanne’s 10th season on PBS.
Prior to launching her publishing, television and teaching career, from 1985 to 1990, Joanne worked at Chez Panisse, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the United States. Joanne’s first book, From Tapas to Meze (Crown, 1994) was selected by Julia Child as one of her 12 personal favorites out of 1000 cookbooks published that year. Her talents were then showcased in the PBS series “Weir Cooking in the Wine Country”, shot on location in the Napa Valley. The companion book, “Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country” (Simon & Schuster, 2001) went on to garner a James Beard Award nomination and an IACP Cookbook Award nomination.
Joanne’s adopted hometown of San Francisco was the culinary setting for “Weir Cooking in the City”, her 26-part PBS series and companion book (Simon & Schuster, 2004) for which she received a James Beard Award for Best Cookbook. A completely revised version of From Tapas to Meze (Ten Speed Press, 2004) won the 2004 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Mediterranean Cookbook.
One of Joanne’s most recent book is an exciting all-in-one reference guide, TEQUILA: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites (Ten Speed Press, 2009). This book was the inspiration for Copita and is a significant resource for Copita. You can purchase your own copy and Joanne will be glad to sign it for you when you visit Copita. For more information regarding Joanne, please visit: http://www.joanneweir.com/
Larry Mindel Propietario
Larry Mindel has been at the forefront of the dining industry for over 40 years. Deeply influenced by the culinary traditions of Italy, his trailblazing restaurants influenced California’s dining zeitgeist. He began his career by selling instant coffee to local retail merchants in the Ann Arbor area while a student at the University of Michigan. He branded it “University Hall.”
Larry’s career took root in San Francisco with his purchase of venerable Caswell Coffee Company (founded, 1829) for 1 million dollars in 1963. He was 26 years old and had $36.00 in the bank. Emboldened by youthful naiveté, he overestimated his power of negotiating! Unable to bring the price down, he raised the money they requested, primarily from a local bank. With passion and hard work, Caswell doubled in size for 3 years. In the 4th year, he took a leap of faith and made a 15 million dollar commitment to become the exclusive buyer of Kona coffee from Hawaii. They locked in a set price and branded it as a premium product, “Kona Coffee”. Subsequently, Caswell’s success attracted a bidding war between larger Midwestern coffee companies anxious to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing West Coast market.
Following the sale of Caswell, Larry co-founded Spectrum Foods with the purchase of Chianti restaurant in Los Angeles. He and his business partner transformed Chianti from a failing trattoria into a restaurant with the most coveted seats in Los Angeles. Under Larry's direction, Spectrum created 14 trend setting restaurants in California. These included Ciao, with one of the nation’s first exhibition pasta-making stations, and Prego featuring a wood-fired pizza oven in the dining room. Both innovations were the result of spatial problem solving. In 1984, Saga Corporation acquired Spectrum Foods and Larry served as President of the Saga Restaurant Group, overseeing more than 200 restaurants generating a combined $375 million in annual revenue.
Upon the merger of Saga with Marriott in 1986, Larry departed and acquired Il Fornaio, negotiating the deal on the back of a napkin. At that time they were a collection of six money-losing small Italian bakeries in California. Under his direction, Il Fornaio reorganized every aspect of the operation into a bakery-backed restaurant and within ten months the first Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana e Panetteria opened in Corte Madera, California to overwhelming public and critical acclaim. By 2008 Il Fornaio operated twenty-two restaurants with annual revenues of $145 million.
Larry was the first American and the first person of non-Italian descent to be awarded the Caterina de Medici Medal from the Italian government, recognizing excellence in the preservation of Italian heritage outside of Italy. He opened Poggio Trattoria in 2003 near his home in Sausalito as the ultimate experession of his passion for Italy. For the past decade it has been a highly acclaimed, three-starred top-ranked San Francisco Bay area restaurant. In 2012, as the result of a contested margarita making competition between Larry and Joanne Weir, they co-founded Copita Tequileria y Comida together.
Daniel Tellez Consulting Executive Chef
Daniel Tellez became Executive Chef in 2016. Prior to Copita, he was a partner and the executive chef at Anona Neobistro in Mexico City.
Chef Tellez, who was born in the capital city, learned to cook alongside his grandmother as a child, and continued his culinary training at numerous restaurants throughout Mexico City and Europe. In 2015, he represented Mexico at the Bocuse d’Or Latin America.
Tellez first learned about the position at Copita through food writer Elsie Mendez, who connected him to Weir and Mindel. He spoke with Weir for a couple of hours on the phone last summer and then flew up to the Bay Area to cook a tasting menu as part of his audition. Needless to say, he got the part.
Tellez and his family moved to the North Bay in mid-December and he has spent the past month-and-a-half familiarizing himself with the kitchen at Copita and it’s many different vendors. Regarding Northern California’s bounty of ingredients, Tellez says, “for me it’s top notch, the best I’ve ever seen.”
Tellez describes his cooking as contemporary Mexican, and says he will be adding his own twists to existing dishes as well as bringing his own signature items to the mix, including mussels steamed with mezcal and green tomatillos.
Amy Svendberg Managing Partner
Growing up in culture rich Chicago, IL, surrounded by culinary enthusiasts, it is no surprise that Amy Svendberg ended up leading a life in restaurants. Amy not only has a zest for food and wine, but also has experience in top-rated eateries from all around the world.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in French Business and Translation from Northern Illinois University, Amy headed straight for Paris, where her true passion for food and hospitality came to life. After five years in the lively restaurant world of Paris, Amy returned home to Chicago, continuing her career in food and hospitality, including four years as the general manager at Kimpton Group’s Atwood Café.
By 2007, Amy made her move to San Francisco, where she started at the famed Grand Café and soon crossed paths with Larry Mindel. “I was originally drawn to work for Larry due to his great reputation in the restaurant industry, the beauty of Sausalito and the outstanding talent in their kitchen,” says Amy. Her Parisian-instilled ideals of seasonal cuisine and the craft of creative dishes with locally-available ingredients were met in Poggio and its Certified Organic Garden.
Since becoming managing partner of Poggio in January of 2008, Amy has poured herself wholeheartedly into every aspect of the dining experience from greeting guests at the door, to serving plates, to regularly collecting feedback from servers on how to offer the best possible environment for guests. “My continual goals as the managing partner are to help create a memorable experience for each guest and to showcase what makes our restaurants so special through warm and personable service.”
In 2012, Amy added another role to her successful career, that of managing partner overseeing the opening and operations of Copita. When not at the restaurants, Amy enjoys rock climbing with her husband, Tommy, the director of wine-buying for Vinfolio; running; spending time with her fourteen-year-old son; and doting on two English bulldogs, Harry Sparkles and Beautiful Sophie. She resides in San Francisco.
Join The Team
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