To manage a wine seminar, you need to understand the atmosphere that wine creates. To manage more than a dozen seminars in five days like Evonne Everett does, you must have an absolute passion for it.
“[Wine] is not a spirit. It’s not a hard vodka, gin, in-your-face type of drink. It tends to slowly evolve and transform the room. When you’re in good company and with your friends, a sip of wine here and a sip of wine there allows you to enjoy the feeling of the moment. If you weren’t friends when you walk into the room, you definitely are when you leave,” said Evonne Everett, the wine seminars event manager for the Food Network & Cooking Channel Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®).
Everett, who obtained a certificate in beverage management from the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management in 2014, will oversee 16 wine seminars at SOBEWFF® this year. She earned the role immediately after completing the Chaplin School’s program.
“From early stages in her studies, Evonne developed a passion for wine and wine-related events. I believe this passion and hard work is behind Evonne’s success and transformation from a student to a professional manager. She also understands and values business relationships along with emotional intelligence—two key ingredients for management,” said Mohammad Qureshi, associate dean of the Chaplin School.
Everett knew she wanted to be an event manager before coming to FIU. She was a Miamian who loved wine, and the Chaplin School’s beverage management certificate offered her a thorough understanding of wine and its history across the globe. She and the program were a natural fit.
“The classes enlightened me as a consumer and have just given me an appreciation so that when I open a bottle of wine, I know what’s gone into it. I know the nature of the grape, the passion of the winemaker, the heart of the maker who depends on their crop to grow,” Everett said.
Everett also received valuable real-world experience as a volunteer at SOBEWFF®. The festival, which benefits the Chaplin School, is the nation’s destination for food and beverage connoisseurs, hosted annually at various locations throughout South Florida. This February, it will draw thousands of attendees to eat and drink with world-renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities at more than 100 events across South Florida.
SOBEWFF® has given Panthers like Everett unique opportunities to network with top-notch professionals in the culinary and hospitality fields.
“We were so excited to be a part of something like this. We did a lot of team building. It’s over the weekend, so those three or four days you have to work alongside your peers you build these relationships, and I still stay in contact with many of the people I worked with at that festival,” Everett said.
To those who remember Everett as a student, it’s no surprise that she is already well into her ideal career.
“She had a big smile on her face that would melt anybody,” said Patrick Cassidy, one of Everett’s professors who teaches wine technology, wines of the new world, wines of the old world and the business of wine.
Everett’s positive attitude has carried her far. For many people, managing 16 seminars over five days might sound like a daunting task. Everett faces the challenge with a smile.
“My favorite part of the job is also the most stressful part of the job, and that’s the day of. The actual execution is massive,” Everett said. “Everything that you prepared for and everything you planned, it’s time to shine. It’s like an actor getting on stage.”
Interested in attending one of Everett’s seminars, or other hands-on learning experiences at the Festival? Check out these events at SOBEWFF®