Publisher and Editorial Director MERIDITH MAY
Meridith is responsible for the branding and content of The Tasting Panel and has successfully increased the magazine's circulation and readership in the past seven years. It has become the fastest growing, most widely distributed publication for the beverage industry.
Her background in radio (KIIS-FM, KLSX and KABC in Los Angeles) and newspaper (Santa Barbara News Press restaurant columnist) - combined with her knowledge of food, wine and spirits - gives her an edge in understanding the changing trends of the industry.
Meridith co-owns The Tasting Panel with Anthony Dias Blue and is also owner/Publisher/Editorial Director of our sister publication,
The Somm Journal.
Editor-in-Chief ANTHONY DIAS BLUE
Anthony Dias Blue is the recipient of a 2001 James Beard Foundation Award as well as the 1997 Communicator of the Year Award from the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. He is one of the most influential food and wine personalities in the United States. His work in various media is circulated to more than 30 million global consumers and trade members each month. He can be found in print periodicals, on radio, in bookstores and in cyberspace.
For more than two decades, Anthony was associated with Bon Appétit, the largest-circulation food publication in the United States, his influential consumer-oriented "Blue Lifestyle Minute" radio program is broadcast several times each weekday on WCBS New York and KABC Los Angeles, while the two-hour "Blue Lifestyle" program airs in 30 markets across the country.
Anthony Dias Blue is Executive Director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the nation's largest and most prestigious wine judging event, and is also the founding Director of its sister event, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
In April of 2007, Anthony Dias Blue joined forces with Meridith May to purchase and rebrand The Tasting Panel as a nationwide beverage industry publication.
Executive Editor DAVID GADD
David Gadd began with Anthony Dias Blue's Blue Lifestyle organization in 1996 and has worked on projects as diverse as the "Blue Lifestyle Minute" and Anthony Dias Blue's Pocket Guide to Wine, among many others. He continues to supervise the day-to-day operations of
The Tasting Panel and manage the magazine's sister publication,
The Somm Journal, as well as writing and photographing frequent departmental and feature stories.
Associate Publisher RACHEL BURKONS
Multi-talented (and very busy) Rachel Burkons frequently writes features and departmental pieces for The Tasting Panel, as well as photographing stories. She travels extensively to represent
The Tasting Panel regionally and internationally, and oversees additional projects, including special issues and various catalogs/brochures produced for
The Tasting Panel's many clients.
Managing Editor JEESE HOM-DAWSON
A Northern California native, Jesse spent six years in New York City before fleeing to Los Angeles for sunny weather and terrible traffic, where she joined Tasting Panel's team in 2015. She lives by the beach in Santa Monica and enjoys cooking and baking with her large collection of cookbooks and kitchen appliances. Jesse is a firm believer in the Oxford comma, despite what others in the office might have to say about it.
Senior Wine Editor JESSIE BIRSCHBACH
Jessica Anne Birschbach-Sheldon (JABS) made The Tasting Panel cut Certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers with a background in fine dining, creative marketing and comedy. JABS brews beer, and sometimes regrets following Angels Baseball. The only time you'll find her "accessorizing" is if she's upgrading her Jeep Wrangler. JABS is of the beach. Whether that beach is on the island of Kauai, where she was born, or where she grew up in San Diego is mostly trivial, just know she's a better swimmer than a walker. So far, being a wine editor is one of her proudest accomplishments.
Deputy Editor ALLYSON GORSUCH
After years of running wine programs for restaurants, Allyson Gorsuch is excited to write for a living. She comes to The Tasting Panel from Sonoma County but is originally from St. Louis. She is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and holds the WSET Level Three. New to Los Angeles, Allyson looks forward to exploring the expansive city, and she is always planning her next trip abroad.
Events Director/Associate Editor BECKY TSADIK
Becky Tsadik spent five years as a chef and event coordinator in Chicago and Los Angeles, where she sharpened her palate on everything from spicy Ethiopian food to fresh Californian cuisine. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, she nabbed a journalism degree from Northwestern University in Illinois, and is delighted to now call California home. Look for her with a clipboard and a smile at speed tastings, cocktail competitions and other industry events hosted by The Tasting Panel.
Web Editor / Associate Editor LUDWIG AHGREN
Ludwig Ahgren is a first-generation American citizen. He was born and raised in New Hampshire and attended the exclusive Arizona State University. While there he joined the comedy club Tempe Late Night and was crowned the ASU 2015 Joke-off Champion.
Copy Editor KATE NEWTON
Kate Newton joined The Tasting Panel in August 2017 after spending several years in Madison, Wisconsin, where she wrote for a collective of small-town newspapers and was a general nuisance to her coworkers with her frequent and very nitpicky editing suggestions. An Arizona native, she's a Clippers enthusiast, fledgling Dodgers fan, budget foodie and pop culture savant (caution to those who venture down the rabbit hole of asking for TV show recommendations) who's now in charge of keeping our writers on the grammatical up-and-up.
Social Media Manager TRACY PRETLOW
Tracy Pretlow is a first generation Liberian-American, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, California. Tracy attended the illustrious Alabama State University where she majored in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. Tracy often times rocks pink hair and is a ray of sunshine in the office. Always quick to lend a smile or helping hand, Tracy joined The Tasting Panel team in the Fall of 2016 and is now our Social Media Manager.
Advertising and Finance Team
VP/Marketing & Sales BILL BRANDEL
A veteran of the wine and spirits industry for three decades, Bill has spent his career as a distributor as well as on- and-off premise at high profile accounts in Florida, Washington DC and Los Angeles. As a Wine Manager for SW&S in Southern California for the past 20 years, he earned his stripes in understanding all sides of the business. His knowledge and experience prove him worthy of heading up marketing and sales for The Tasting Panel, The Somm Journal and
The Clever Root.
VP/Finance Director ANNA RUSSELL
Anna comes to The Tasting Panel with over eight years of accounting experience. At
The Tasting Panel, Anna handles all things Finance and works closely with Meridith May in managing the magazine's business endeavors. She graduated from the University of San Diego where she was granted scholarships for both Academics and Athletics. As a former athlete she appreciates the camaraderie and team spirit which is such an intrinsic part of the atmosphere at the Magazine.
In her spare time, Anna enjoys spending time with her friends and family, hiking with her dog, Dr. Watson, watching her beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, and scientifically testing wine and beer for the good of the publication.
Dr. Watson (seen above) is The Tasting Panel's official Head of Security and is a no-nonsense enforcer of proper behavior.
Click here for bios of many of our contributors.