Despite a successful career as a fashion designer in Tokyo, with a sake sommelier certification in hand, Chizuko Niikawa-Helton embarked upon a life in sake in New York City. Working from the ground up, her aptitude for sales and popularity with customers helped her to become New York’s top female sake sommelier. In 2008, focused on developing independent sake events and sake sales techniques designed to make sake more fun, delicious and smart, she founded her own consulting company, Sake Discoveries, LLC. Focused on increasing sake fans nationwide, she consults with restaurants across the country to develop unique sake lists and staff training programs. She has served as a judge for the U.S. National Sake Appraisal and in 2012, was awarded the prestigious title of Sake Samurai by the Japan Sake Brewers Association.
*photo by Hirokazu Takayama
With his first sip in 2005, Timothy Sullivan simply fell in love with premium Japanese sake. This inspired him to start the first sake blog in the United States: UrbanSake.com. His passion for sake has grown this site into America’s leading resource for sake related news, events and education. In 2007, the Japanese Sake Brewer’s Association awarded Sullivan the title of “Sake Samurai” in recognition of his work to promote sake outside of Japan. Currently, Timothy Sullivan works full time in the sake industry conducting sake seminars, educational tasting events and media outreach to introduce what the Japanese call ‘the drink of the gods’ to new fans in the U.S. and around the world.