Tales of the Cocktail Staff Bios
Founder of Tales of the Cocktail®
Ann Tuennerman is the Founder and Executive Director of Tales of the Cocktail, the world’s premiere cocktail event. A New Orleans native with an entrepreneurial spirit and knack for bringing people together, Ann has grown Tales from an hour long walking tour to a week-long festival, bringing tens of thousands of cocktail experts and enthusiasts to New Orleans each summer.
As Executive Director, Ann provides the vision and strategic direction for Tales of the Cocktail, working directly with bartenders, brands and industry partners to create original experiences for all attendees— all with the lens of education and celebration. In addition to the core festival, Ann has also founded a number of other spirits-focused events and programs including Tales 365®, Tales on Tour, Tales of the Toddy® and Daiquiri Season®. Ann’s focus on giving back to the industry was brought to life through the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society, which she founded in 2006 with her husband Paul. The NOCCPS invests funds raised from Tales of the Cocktail events back into the cocktail industry through apprenticeships, grants, scholarship programs and more.
All this work cultivating and promoting the spirits industry has made Ann a go-to authority on cocktails and the business behind them, regularly serving as a source for national and international publications including Fortune, Imbibe, Sav
When Ann isn’t spending time coordinating each year’s events, she can be found with her husband Paul and the unofficial Tales of the Cocktail mascot, Delta Dawg.
Co-Founder Tales of the Cocktail®
Few people start their career at 15 years old. But that’s exactly what Paul did frying fish at Arthur Treacher’s in Blacksburg, VA. That experience sparked both a passion for and a career in hospitality that has now spanned more than 37 years. He uses his extensive development and operations experience in helping to grow Tales of the Cocktail. Paul was also instrumental in founding the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCPS) in 2006, allowing Tales of the Cocktail to benefit the hospitality industry all year long. In addition to his work with Tales and NOCCPS, Paul is the Senior Vice-President of Business Development for Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, and serves as Mentor for the Jonas Project.
Director of the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society
Long before he joined the board of the NOCCPS, Ron Canedo has been working to preserve the culinary traditions of New Orleans as one of the longest tenured managers at Mr. B’s Bistro. A native New Orleanian, Ron was raised in the French Quarter, not far from the landmark restaurant where he has spent more than 25 years. After receiving his degree from the Culinary Institute of America with a focus on restaurant management, Ron returned to New Orleans as a manager at the Royal Sonesta’s Desire Oyster Bar.
In 1992, Ron joined Mr. B’s as a manager, responsible for daily supervision of food and service quality as well as the hiring and training of front of house staff. Following Hurricane Katrina, Ron played a critical role in reopening the restaurant, working closely with Owner Cindy Brennan and General Manager Randy Stein to redesign physical spaces and train an entirely new wait staff. During his time at Mr. B’s Bistro, the restaurant has been recognized for its first-class cuisine and service by international publications and organizations including Food & Wine, Gourmet, and the James Beard Foundation.
Director of Operations
If you’re wondering who holds the purse strings at Tales of the Cocktail, it’s Melissa. As Director of Operations Melissa manages the overall event budget and company finances in addition to leading the logistics of executing more than 200 Tales of the Cocktail events in five days. If you’ve ever been to Tales you know that is no easy task. Melissa joined Tales of the Cocktail as an intern in 2007 and has been a key contributor in helping to grow the event to where it is today.
Director of Partnerships
Emily is originally from Houston, went to school in Charleston and has now, luckily for us, settled in New Orleans. After interning with Tales of the Cocktail, Emily joined the team full time in 2012 and now serves as the Director of Partnerships, ensuring the flawless execution of every event for our sponsors. When Emily isn’t busy bringing Tales of the Cocktail events to life, she's traveling the world with her new husband, Jason (feel free to congratulate her if you see her at Tales).
Alex joined Tales of the Cocktail in 2014, first as an intern and then later that year as a full-fledged, flag-waving member of the Tales team. As the Sponsorship Manager, Alex stays busy with a number of roles including managing sponsorship relationships across all of our events. Prior to joining Tales of the Cocktail, Alex gained valuable experience in Baton Rouge for various start-up companies in the online marketing and consumer technology fields. Then, like so many others, she fell in love in New Orleans and has called it home ever since.
Presenter Relations and Logistics Senior Manager
Every year thousands of drinks are served at Tales of the Cocktail. We have Christina Sudderth to thank for that. As Tales of the Cocktail's Presenter Relations and Logistics Senior Manager, Christina is responsible for coordinating with every presenter and panelist, as well as ordering over 10,000 of bottles of spirits needed to create the incredible cocktails that are served. Originally from Dallas, Christina joined Tales of the Cocktail as a volunteer in 2008 and has been a core team member in growing the event ever since.
Programs and Logistics Manager
Like many other Tales team members, Kandyse got her first taste of the spirits industry as a Tales of the Cocktail intern. Now she manages our Education Fellowship Program, the Market at Tales, and Tales 365 Membership Program. Kandyse brings knowledge of community relations and hospitality experience from a broad range of industries to Tales of the Cocktail®. When she isn’t busy promoting Tales of the Cocktail, you can find Kandyse hiking around City Park with her fiancé, Kelsy, and their adorable dogs, Mallory and Evie.
Jeremy JF Thompson
Born in Los Angeles and raised in half a dozen countries, Jeremy JF Thompson settled in New Orleans by way of San Francisco and New York. After 4 years as a bar manager and consultant, followed by 6 years as a trade marketing specialist in the spirits industry, Jeremy went on to create a strategic event marketing company, through which he founded, publicized and sold the New Orleans Daiquiri Festival to Tales of the Cocktail, just over a year before coming to work for Tales. In addition to overseeing all aspects of Tales of the Cocktail's digital marketing, he is very passionate about continuing to develop new opportunities for the Tales brand. When he’s not working (Ha!), Jeremy loves researching digital trends, enjoying American whiskeys, and dancing to old Soul and R&B tunes with his wife.
Gray Chapman is the Managing Editor of Tales of the Cocktail. Perhaps the one thing Gray loves more than drinking a good cocktail is writing about one. (She's currently on a mezcal kick, but gin has a special place in her heart.) Most of all, Gray loves the one-of-a-kind histories, personalities, and perspectives that make up the world behind the bar, where there is no shortage of material or inspiration. She lives in Atlanta with her soon-to-be-husband, Dane, and their scrawny yellow mutt, Jerry.
Jodi Cash is the Contributing Editor of Tales of the Cocktail. She cultivated a love for eating, drinking and writing about it while serving tables to get through college in Athens, Georgia. She's enthusiastic about telling the world what kind of diligence and creativity are required to make a masterful cocktail and about the rich culture surrounding the industry. When she's not at work, Jodi likes to travel in search of new story ideas with her husband, Gresham.