Management Moves: Wolff, Finn
Brandon K. Wolff, The Signature Room
The extensive search for The Signature Room at the 95th’s new executive chef is complete.
Brandon K. Wolff, 43, has taken the lead in the kitchen that serves up to 800,000 guests each year in the fine dining setting high atop the John Hancock Building in Chicago.
Most recently serving as executive sous chef for Chicago-based One SixtyBlue, Wolff now directs a team of five sous chefs, 35 cooks and a pastry kitchen of eight.
“This position requires a certain management style and ability to maintain the highest quality of food and service while infusing the menu with personality and flavor,” says Angela Aspito, director of operations.
“Brandon is very experienced in producing outstanding fine dining fare, and his passion for working with high quality, farm-fresh ingredients perfectly melds with our passion for delivering memorable, gourmet cuisine,” she added.
Wolff describes his cooking style as simple yet refined, sourcing the highest quality produce from local growers, using minimal ingredients in each dish, and focusing on seasonality and flavors that work together.
His new menus for The Signature Room will be infused with this same upscale simplicity and fresh approach. Considering his mastery of Italian cuisine, guests can expect to sample handmade, fresh pastas daily.
Wolff began his professional career as the chef de cuisine at The Doubletree Hotel’s Warren Duck Club and then later as chef di cucina at The Adam’s Mark Hotel’s Bravo Ristorante.
In 1998, he made his first move to the Windy City to take on the executive sous chef role at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise’s Maggiano’s Little Italy division.
He moved to Milwaukee when the Bartolotta Restaurant Group selected him as executive chef for Dream Dance at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. While at the $120 million dollar casino project, Wolff helped the restaurant earn four stars from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Restaurant of the Year from Milwaukee Magazine.
Next, the Bartolotta Restaurant Group named Wolff executive chef of Bacchus, a contemporary American fine dining restaurant in Milwaukee, where he again earned a four-star rating by critics and was invited twice to cook at the James Beard House in New York.
When he returned to Chicago, he worked as chef de cuisine at Osteria Via Stato, and chef de cuisine at La Madia.
The Fort Worth, Texas, native most enjoys perusing the farmers markets around the city and his own Wicker Park neighborhood. He tries to find time to pursue his favorite sport, tennis, when not in the kitchen. He earned a degree in restaurant and hotel management from Oklahoma State University.
Michael J. Finn, Piedmont Distillers
Considered a leader of the current moonshine and artisan distilling movement, Piedmont Distillers, Inc., Madison, North Carolina, has announced that Michael J. Finn will become director of sales, initially focusing his efforts on the states west of the Mississippi.
He will represent Piedmont Distiller’s portfolio that includes legendary moonshiner Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon, the new Midnight Moon fruit inclusions, and Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine.
Finn joins the company with more than 30 years of experience in branded spirits sales, most recently as president of sales with Casa Noble Tequila, Guadalajara, Mexico, where sales in the U.S. grew rapidly under his leadership. He also launched the brand’s expansion into Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, South and Central America and the Middle East.
Prior to that, Finn was vice president/control state manager for Wilson Daniels/Infinium Sprits, St. Helena, California, where he was instrumental in the development of the spirits portfolio, including Cazadores, Cabo Wabo, Corralejo, and Casa Noble.
After graduation from the Minnesota School of Business, he started his career with Brown Forman, Louisville, Kentucky, where he progressed through a series of positions, managing sales and profits for wines, spirits and ready-to-drink products in the northwest, west and southeast regions of the United States. For Piedmont Distillers, Finn will continue to reside in Missoula, Montana, and maintain his office from his home there.
As Finn explores the opportunity at Piedmont Distillers, he notes the similarity between moonshine and his previous experiences with tequila.
"It’s all about introducing the brands to consumers; and then getting them to enjoy the unique flavors," he says.
"Both Midnight Moon and Catdaddy are of exceptional quality; and I can’t wait to get started working with my distributors and brokers to help grow the current business to the next level."
"In addition to his extensive spirits marketing and distribution expertise, Mike has that ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ that allows him to see projects and opportunities from a different perspective," says Joe Flock, vice president of sales and marketing at Piedmont Distillers.
"As we continue to enjoy rapid growth, we need fresh thinking on how we go to market and deal with our trade partners. Mike will bring a lot of fresh ideas to Piedmont Distillers in this area. This is another reason we see Mike as an excellent addition to our team." Finn will report directly to Flock at Piedmont Distillers.
Piedmont Distillers is committed to preserving the moonshining legacy and distilling traditions that have made North Carolina the "Moonshine Capital of the World."
Coupling these traditions with one-of-a-kind moonshine recipes and a state-of-the-art distillation process has enabled Piedmont Distillers’ spirits to transcend moonshine from the backwoods, to be amongst the finest spirits available anywhere. For more information or to contact Piedmont Distillers, please visit http://www.piedmontdistillers.com.