To say that Anne Vercelli has spent her entire career immersed in all things food and wine would be an understatement. The term “it’s in her blood” aptly applies to this Healdsburg native whose Italian heritage fostered her deep love of food and wine from an early age.
“It was always very important to my family that we all come to the table and eat together”, explains Anne who credits her mother with being an excellent cook. These early memories undoubtedly played a role in determining Anne’s path into the culinary arts.
After earning a B.A. in Food & Nutrition from CSU, Sacramento she went on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York. She earned the coveted position of a C.I.A. Fellowship serving as a kitchen supervisor in the campus’s Escoffier Room and later working in the catering department. She describes a memorable experience when she was selected by the C.I.A. chefs to work for a month at the Seagram’s corporate office at 375 Park Avenue in Manhattan. She was tasked with preparing lunches for 8-12 people from Monday through Friday. She was struck by the fact that she had no budget, she didn’t have to do the shopping, and she had weekends off. She cited the opportunity as a huge honor, but unlike any other hospitality job she would ever have again—as her work generally include weekends, long hours and most definitely a budget!
In 1980 Anne returned to California and began working in restaurant management for the Charley Brown Steakhouse chain located at the San Francisco International Airport. Here she learned about systems and high-volume production. She travelled to various locations (there were 13 units in California) and taught servers about wine. After almost five years, she moved into managing food and beverage for the Clarion Hotel. She expanded her knowledge and enjoyed learning all aspects of the food and beverage side of a high-volume hotel.
With her solid foundation in the food service industry, Anne turned to teaching Italian cooking classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College in 1981. She continues teaching these classes today as an adjunct instructor in the culinary department and in 2006 she added wine and hospitality instruction to her curriculum and is now part of the agriculture faculty as well.
For over 20 years she has been associated with the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wine in the world. She serves this competition as Assistant Director.
It was in her capacity as a judge for the Professional Food Competition at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair that she was offered the Judging Coordinator position that she still holds today –36 years later! “I was thrilled to get the position and still love it today as I get to taste all the food submissions, see the food trends, and meet great people –who I often ask to be judges for future competitions,” says Anne who clearly loves the job. She describes how olive oil grew to be such an important category; it now has its own competition at the fair. She also says the deli/charcuterie/pantry competition is growing the fastest and she has seen a huge improvement in the quality of shelf stable products over the years.
As with so many folks in the world of food and wine—Anne loves what she does. She works week-ends at Costeaux Bakery serving as concierge and judges various wine competitions. When she’s truly not working, she enjoys wine tasting and fishing in Lake Sonoma where, if she catches anything, she serves the fish up to unsuspecting dinner guests who invariably discover that she caught it herself!