A new scholarship program funded by Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey rewards deserving dining industry employees with professional enrichment that boosts their careers and our local bourbon culture.
Paul Tuell is a man who sees possibilities where others may not. His popular line of chocolate whiskeys, including Chocolate Mint, Bourbon Ball and Caramel Turtle may have caused some initial eye-rolling among bourbon purists, but it’s now being embraced by foodies and chefs alike—appearing on dessert menus at Café Lou Lou and cocktail menus all over town.
It's not surprising, then, that the founder and president of this one-of-a-kind whiskey company also sees untapped potential in the bar and restaurant industry- specifically with the front of the house employees who, with the right education and certification, could become dynamic ambassadors of our bourbon culture.“If you go to a restaurant in Napa Valley or Sonoma, those servers have to be on their A-game,” says Tuell. “They’re serving a bunch of wine enthusiasts and they have to be able to go toe to toe with them. It’s the same here. We have this bourbon tourism boom going on. When people come in from all over the world, we need our bartenders and servers to be able to hold their own.”
A proponent of bourbon education, he has been an instructor in the bourbon-certification programs at Moonshine University since its inception. But, this fall, he went a step further, creating “The Stave & Thief Scholarship” at Moonshine benefiting Apron Inc., a non-profit organization developed to provide a safety net and support system for dining industry workers. “It’s a forward-looking way of helping those in the industry,” he says. “The scholarship benefits the individual because they’re more marketable and better equipped. It benefits the customer who is the key to this. And it benefits the beverage and alcohol industry that’s so active in this town.”
The scholarship provides recipients the opportunity to attend the Stave & Thief Bourbon Certification program offered at Moonshine University free of cost. There will be one recipient each quarter; the first, Ryan Lindauer, a server from Equus and Jack’s Lounge, received his certification last month. “This certification is part of treating these jobs like careers and it benefits all of us,” says Tuell. “The dining industry is very interconnected and it’s embedded in our community. It feels good to be able to help.