Theresa Evans - Beverage Director

- interview by Sara Gorelick

Earlier this Fall, New York Yankees Steakhouse in Manhattan announced a new executive chef to lead their culinary operations. In addition to the new menu, their team also released new cocktails saluting the local team including The All-American, Triple A, Bronx Bomber and more. The new cocktail menu is spearheaded by New York Yankee's Steakhouse's Assistant GM and Beverage Director Theresa Evans, with special help from bartender Christini Neves.

Theresa is a culinary and wine aficionado from Kansas. She has studied wine all over the world and has a diploma from The French Culinary Institute in NYC and completed her Level II Sommelier Certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers. We talked with Theresa about her thoughts on hospitality, the food and beverage experience and plans for the coming year.

SG: You have studied all over the world, what is the biggest takeaway you have to tell readers?

TE: Travel and live like a local wherever you go. I lived with a family in Alsace while working at a vineyard. A part of my experience was adopting their habits and lifestyle which broadened my perspective on life, food and wine. 

SG: What first surprised you about the industry?

TE: I came into doing what I do with an open mind, ready to be inspired by the people and opportunities that came my way. Every day is a new adventure and surprise in a way. 

SG: What initially turned you on to food & beverage?

TE: Growing up at my grandparent's farm. It was my second home and my grandmother was always cooking. Coming to New York I got more involved in the wine scene after culinary school and even more so by traveling abroad. 

SG: What is the Kansas food/drink scene like?

TE: There are a few standout spots in Kansas City and a few really cool up and coming places. What comes to mind is the beer culture and the popularity of micro-breweries. The landscape of the industry is evolving so I am excited to see where that goes in the next couple of years. 

SG: What makes the Yankee Steakhouse special?

TE: The Steakhouse provides a very unique experience. There aren't many places where you can get Prime Steaks and elevated food while catching a live game, or enjoying a casual beer with work friends. Our environment really provides the best of both worlds, not to mention Yankee memorabilia that you can't see anywhere else. We like to keep things interesting with our offerings and go beyond the classic steakhouse fare. I like to get people to try new wines with their steak as well and provide an experience that breaks them away from their go-to selection. We have this amazing signature Ribeye that pairs great with the 2012 Klinker Brick 1850 Zinfandel / Petite Syrah and Cab blend - it's a very powerful wine that perfectly pairs with the fatty steak. 

SG: What is your clientele like?

TE: We get foodies that are also huge sports fans in who can't get what we have here anywhere else. The local businessmen stop in to catch sports updates during lunch and then the happy hour crowd is pretty mixed with professionals in the area. Season ticket holders stop by and fans of the brand usually plan special occasion dinners here. Dinner also brings in execs from the area as well as a player or two from time to time.

SG: What was the inspiration behind the new drink menu?

TE: Seasonal flavors, a play on classic steakhouse cocktails, we change things from time to time to keep it interesting. We like to bring on classics with a twist. Everything we offer is seasonal and inspired by cocktails we love. I have the bartenders dreaming up different ideas all the time and we play with Yankee-themed names which are fun for the guests.

SG: What is your process for creating new drinks? How does Christini work into this?

TE: It's really a meeting of the minds, we look at guest favorites, what's in season, we also like to present ideas that we know our guests have never tried before and watch new trends catch on with our regulars. Christini loved the Penicillin and so we came up with a really cool recipe with a smoked ginger syrup recipe that I worked on with the Chef. 

SG: What is the best part of your job?

TE: The best part is my team and how empowered they feel through education and attention to detail. I like to see the smiles on the guest faces and reading a great review in the press and online guest platforms. 

SG: Who inspires you in the industry?

TE: I wouldn't say there is a specific person but there are experiences when I dine out, how the staff treats the guests, and how certain restaurants are presenting new and interesting dishes, wine and cocktails. This is very much the city where the more creative you are the more excited guests are to come back, and I think that's what inspires me the most. 

SG: What's next?

TE: We have a lot of wine and scotch dinners in the works for 2017 that I am very excited about. We are gearing up to partner with our beverage sponsors for Happy Hour and for big events during the season as well.