By Brittany Maroney
Photo by James Patrick
Emily Soccorsy has a saying: “Life sometimes takes you down to the studs, like a house being rebuilt from its foundation.”
Losing her beloved mother to pancreatic cancer was one of those times.
“I felt completely vulnerable and stripped down to my core,” Soccorsy says. “Like a house without a roof, the light was different, the air was different, the world seemed to shift. It caused me to reassess everything.”
From the darkness, Soccorsy found light and was inspired to change her career path. With partner Justin Foster she began begin Root + River, a full-service branding agency that help leaders tell the world their unique stories in a real, honest and inspiring way.
“Brands are born in conversations, but most business leaders struggle to talk about their concept, their business,” Soccorsy says. “I believe businesses are manifestations of the purpose we feel in our hearts; they are not just a means to an end. So, I feel deeply that connecting people to their purpose and telling that story is a gift I need to share.”
Root + River is now a successful growing business, one built on new beginnings – for business leaders, the brands they love, and certainly for Soccorsy. Her mother would be proud.
Do you have a personal motto in marketing? I love mantras! Marketing is not rocket science. It’s “CM squared over time” – clarity of message, delivered consistently, over time. What’s it like juggling a business and being a busy mom? I am guided by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ quote, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” So that means we schedule around family life, always volunteering in the classroom and being present at field trips. How would you like to see Root + River grow? I would like to see Root + River grow to help 10,000 awake leaders become soulful, root-based brands. That’s our big goal right now, and we’re on it!
By Alison Bailin Batz
Photo by Claudia Johnstone
At six feet feet four inches tall, Jason Caballero – a former college rugby player and the lead sommelier at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ Bourbon Steak – may not look like the man to see about wine. But looks can be deceiving.
In recent months, Caballero made headlines as the first person in the Valley in nearly 20 years to earn the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier certification, a designation that takes anywhere from five to 10 years to get and involves rigorous study, a series of exams and, of course, all sorts of blind tastings.
After initially getting his start behind the bar in 2000, Caballero made the study of wine his life’s work once he joined Olive + Ivy in 2006, which, at the time, boasted one of Arizona’s only Advanced Sommeliers, who would become a mentor.
“There are many qualities that make a great sommelier, but the most important is to remember that the position is one of service,” Caballero says.
And speaking of service, Caballero is “serving” it up in spades with a new Fight, er, Flight Club program at Bourbon Steak. The quarterly program pits Caballero against wine experts nationwide in the wildest blind wine tasting – and food lover’s dream – in town.
Okay, a Flight Club? It all starts with our chef, formerly Jeremy McMillan and now Tony Snyder, who dreams up a five-course menu with wine pairings by our guest sommelier and me. We then let our guests taste and sip everything without knowing who chose which wine. Guests select their favorite pairing for each course, and by dessert, we crown a Flight Club champ. What is the most unique wine experience you’ve ever had? In 2015, I was chosen to travel with the Guild of Sommeliers to France for the wine adventure of a lifetime. We visited a dozen chateaus and tasted wines from the barrel with some of the world’s most iconic winemakers. What’s the key to the perfect pairing? Listening to what a diner likes trumps all the obscure wine knowledge in the world.