I first met Sunny at J Records where we worked together in the International Department. In fact, she spent nearly a decade in the music industry before realizing it was time to take a chance on her true passion – food.
Sunny is a Norwegian native and came to New York, by way of Rome, Paris, and San Francisco, 14 years ago. She graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in 2005 and also holds a diploma from the WSET [Wine & Spirits Education Trust], as well as several certified credentials from the Society of Wine Educators. She currently has a totally awesome job as a mixologist and lead educator for Heavy Water [an ultra premium vodka brand from Scandinavia]. Sunny met her husband, [then Executive Sous Chef] Mark Gandara, while working the front of the house at the 3-star Scandinavian restaurant, Aquavit, in mid-town Manhattan. How cute is that?! Mark is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has over 10 years experience working in several high profile Manhattan restaurants [such as Union Square Cafe, Alto, and the Russian Tea Room] and with celebrity chefs from across the country.
In 2008, Sunny and Mark started Fork and Glass – a catering company that combines their enthusiasm for food and spirits with their love of culinary education. So instead of just gobbling down food and guzzling wine, you actually get to learn about where it comes from, how it’s made, and what makes the cuisine and spirit pairings so compatible. Fork and Glass provides a unique and authentic experience for you and your guests with events like “From Russia With Love” [traditional Russian fare such as blinis and caviar paired with a comparative vodka tasting] and “An Afternoon In the Backyards of Provence” [an exploration of the tastes, wines, and culture of that region]. As an added bonus, past and current customers also receive a lifelong membership to “Ask Sunny”, where you can email her your wine and spirit questions a limitless amount of times. [If I had known about this sooner, perhaps she could have talked me out of the ‘Jug of Wine Challenge’.] She caters to both novices and experts and also consults wine buyers, and private collectors. They also offer personal chef services and cooking classes.
Sunny and Mark believe in using local, seasonal ingredients and are supporters of the local farmers in and around the Hudson Valley, where they currently reside.
Mark & Sunny Gandara
Q & A
I always knew Sunny collected cookbooks, but was floored when she gave me her answer to “How many cookbooks do you own?”
“I stopped counting after I hit about one thousand, but I imagine by now I have about 2,000 titles in addition to all the wine books I have. Quite enough to start my own library, I think! Books are my biggest weakness, I never leave a bookstore without having spent at least $100…”
“What is your favorite wine?”
“This question to me is kind of like asking a mother “which is your favorite child”? I am a huge fan of wines from all over the world, and lately I’ve been attracted to lesser known indigeneous varieties from countries such as Greece and Italy. Across the board, two regions for white that stand out in my mind are Alsace in France (such as Domaine Zind-Humbrect Grand Cru Riesling) and Alto Adige in Italy (Abbazia di Novacella’s Praepositus Kerner is wonderful).
I am also a big fan of Austrian wines. For reds I love Spanish and Italian wines – Clos Erasmus 1998 from Priorat and Gaja’s Barbaresco from 2001 are perhaps some obvious, but delicious choices.”
“One ingredient and cooking utensil you couldn’t live without.”
Cooking utensil: Saute pan
Big thanks to Sunny for participating in today’s profile! Be sure to visit the Fork and Glass website for more information on catering your next dinner party or event!