I’m John Bauccio, and for years I’ve been fascinated by the intersection of food and culture, and what we drink while we’re living our life. It was my Italian-American family that gave me a culinary foundation, and it was my family that first showed me that food and culture were one. My professional life led me to restaurants, bars, a winery, and time in the music business working with some of my heroes, and even though that might seem far afield, to me the connection is obvious. It’s all culture, and while we all still love a rock star, this is the age of the celebrity chef. America’s culinary culture is coming of age, and I’ve been watching from the front row.

I was born in New York, but we soon moved to London, land of things like Ribena, Barley Water, Ale, and Pimm’s Cups. At home, my family drank wine, espresso, and Anisette. Eventually we moved back to America and I began to hear about such exotic treats as Yoo-Hoo, root beer, and grape soda. For high school, we moved to Los Angeles where I met people who drank wine and Mexican beer, and then it was on to university in Portland: a sea of craft beer and Pinot Noir. During and after college I worked with musicians, and toured with them around the country drinking whatever cheap beer they gave us, and when we could afford it, the rocker’s choice: Jack Daniels. A stint in chef school in San Francisco followed, and then it was on to the Napa Valley, where teaching wine and food to everyone from tourists to chefs to US Senators showed me the people’s thirst for knowledge of all things beverage.

Now I’m back in LA, right back in the front row of pop culture, where rock stars sell Vodka and movie stars sell Tequila, right at the intersection that I was raised to understand.