Consulting, Classes, Speaking

Interviewing Eric Asimov at The Commonwealth Club

With 10 years of professional experience as an editor/writer/content vice president and consultant/concierge, I’ve spent over 15 years eating at 600+ restaurants every year (tracked in spreadsheets!) and as many bars annually around the globe. My bio and background here.

Traveling to over 30 countries, some of them mulitple times, I’ve dug into regional cuisines, Michelin-starred restaurants, hole-in-the-walls, coffees, farms, distilleries, wineries, breweries, cideries and bars in each country and city. I am deeply-connected in the food and drink industry globally, privileged to glean from industry perspectives and key sources firsthand.

I am available for multiple services utilizing my vast, deep, “on the ground” research and experience. Please email me at virginia[at]theperfectspotsf.com or contact me via this form with your requests, to discuss rates and availability.

Testimonials

“Your help was above and beyond and really positioned me for success.” — Francine Cohen, Founder at insidefandb.com, NYC

“Our wine and beer sales went almost double after Virginia consulted for our restaurant. She is very stable and reliable, too.” — Joe Lin, Owner/Chef, Pesce e Riso, San Francisco

“No one knows the Bay Area restaurant scene quite like Virginia Miller. She’s fastidious in her research and thorough in amassing a braintrust of the flavors and shakers making food exciting here now in her food writing. Plus, her knowledge and experience with spirits and cocktails has made her a sought after expert, judge and palate mixologists trust. She’s never content to stay in the status quo but constantly challenges herself to push beyond the known entities and find the hidden gems. Her taste matters to readers around the world as she has continued to push out her boundaries to include the gastronomic landscape of other cities than merely the one she calls home. If you are looking for someone to help tailor a focused drink menu, she will be the secret to your sauce. Interested in developing expertise but need to start from ground zero? Virginia is the tasting guide you want at your table.” — Annelies Zijderveld, Food Writer and Author of Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea 

COMPANY CLASSES & TASTINGS

At companies like Google and San Francisco law firms, I’ve led intimate in-house interviews, classes and tastings for laypeople and interested foodies/drink fans on but not limited to subjects like:

  • What is Whisk(e)y? — An overview of all categories of whisk(e)y, from bourbon to rye, Japanese to Scotch, tasting examples of each and learning key facts to speak knowledgeably about all categories of whisk(e)y.
  • Changing Tastes: You Can Learn to Eat Everything — Based off an essay I wrote during my time as Zagat Editor, leading a group discussion (tasting could be involved) on training your palate with stories on how I evolved my palate to love foods I once hated and how it is possible to eat everything.
  • Unique Spirits — We know gin, whisk(e)y, vodka, tequila… but what about aquavit, eaux de vie, schnaps, genepy/i, amari, genever/corenwyn, aguardiente and other spirits with centuries of history in countries around the globe? An overview of weird and wonderfully unique spirits (tasting could be involved).
  • Regional Differences in Southern Food — BBQ is not just barbecue and Southern food is not merely soul food. I tell stories from my multiple BBQ road trips and beyond across the Deep South and Texas, explain key differences between Low Country, Cajun, Creole, Gullah and other Southern regional cuisines (tasting could be involved).
  • Cocktail History, Past & Present — Talking about the cocktail renaissance of the last 15-20 years, how it mirrors cocktail history from the 1800s-1900s and what is happening locally, nationally and internationally in cocktails.
  • Cuisine Deep Dive — A couple examples: What is Peruvian cuisine? How Japanese and Chinese influences make Peruvian cuisine the most complex South American cuisine. The glories of Italy: digging into regional food, wine and spirits specialties from north to south and where you can go to try regional Italian in your own city (tasting could be involved).

RESTAURANT & BAR CONSULTING

Having personally visited over 10,000 restaurants and at as least as many bars around the globe, including many of the World’s 50 Best and Michelin-starred restaurants globally and James Beard-winning nationally, I have a broad context on trends, themes, styles and approaches locally (Bay Area/NorCal), nationally and internationally in restaurants, bars, drink  and distilling.

I have provided menu review and advisement and overall feedback on restaurant/bar concepts. I can speak directly to guest experience, preferences and trends in different regions, cities and countries. I have consulted on spirits trends and the possibilities for a spirit’s use in bars and cocktails in major and obscure categories.

FOOD & DRINK TOURS

I am the guest host on Adios Travel’s food and drink culinary tour in Cusco, Peru, for a “dig deep” experience with foodies from around the world.

I wrote and crafted the Haight-Ashbury food, drink and history tour for Avital Tours, down to menus and drink collaborations with local businesses — I also guest hosted tours.

JUDGING

I’ve been a judge in a few hundred cocktail, spirits, dining, coffee, food (from sausage to cheese) and cooking competitions from Mexico City to Hawaii over the past decade.

On a large scale, I’ve been a judge for some of the biggest awards in the food and drink world, both confidential and publicly known. When it comes to the latter, my judging roles include The GGRA’s Saucy Awards, Tales of the Cocktail‘s international Spirited Awards, Good Food Awards, annual voting panel for the World’s Best Bars, and blind judging spirits for over six years for ADI’s annual Judging of American Craft Spirits, including as a lead judge.

SPEAKING

I have interviewed and moderated panels before a live audience and via podcast for the likes of Commonwealth Club, where I interviewed NY Times wine writer Eric Asimov before a live audience (listen here) and also moderated a panel of distillers (listen here). At Google, I’ve interviewed NY Times cocktail and spirits writer, Robert Simonson (watch here).

As part of Anchor Brewery & Distilling’s international interview video series created by Alan Kropf, I was interviewed for their hour-long video series here.

TV

I’ve been hand-picked multiple times (with no agent) for TV auditions, including being the final choice for a confidential show concept on major TV channels (completing a sizzle reel), and have appeared in a San Francisco episode of the Cooking Channel’s Best in Chow with host Chris Nannarone (review here).

CONTENT CURATION & EDITING

As national editor and VP of content at Table8, I crafted curated, hand-picked restaurant lists in our app for over 15 cities and counting, including overseas cities, overseeing a team who input all the restaurant data in my specified categories. I also selected and was editor over writers in each city, managing content and focus to a steadily growing readership each month. In addition, I formed a unique restaurant rating system combining user and critical reviews.