Growing up in a Hudson Valley farming community in Red Hook, NY, Michael Kowalski (MK for short) embraced the early ideals of the farm-to-table movement and has strong memories of working for his family’s catering company, as well as tending to their considerable gardens. His path to the hospitality industry was indirect; he held several jobs as a disk jockey for WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland and editor/contributor for The Art of Charcuterie by Professor John Kowalski, CHE while he studied biology and chemistry at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). MK eventually found himself performing Ophthalmic Lipid Research under Dr. Robert Salomon in tandem with the CWRU School of Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic, as well as Neuroscience Research under Dr. Allison K. Hall for University Hospitals and the CWRU School of Medicine. Michael ultimately realized his true passion for hospitality after being introduced to Brandon Chrostowski, founder of EDWINS Institute in Shaker Heights, OH. As a result, he made the move to the Napa Valley, where he entered the Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program, an intensive nine-month program at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone led by Advanced Sommelier Christie Dufault and Dr. John Buechsensein, CHE, co-author of the Wine Aroma Wheel. Following his graduation in May 2013, he remained at the CIA where he specialized in large-scale event management and oversaw events such as Flavor! Napa Valley, Premiere Napa Valley, and Worlds of Flavor. He also helped with planning and oversight of large festivals such as Bottlerock Napa Valley, Nantucket Wine & Food Festival, and Newport Wine & Food Festival. Since then, MK has worked for Michelin star restauranteur Charlie Palmer in Napa Valley, James Beard Nominee Francesco Buitoni in the Hudson Valley, and has worked in such prestigious places as The Point Resort in Saranac Lake, NY, Miraval Resorts in Lee, MA, and Wheatleigh in Lenox, MA. Most recently before joining the team at AIER, MK was the National Director of Sales and Hospitality for Berkshire Mountain Distillers in Sheffield, MA, and he continues to contribute to Wine and Spirits Magazine as a Tasting Panelist.