Spirit In The Sky

The Hilton Anatole's sky-soaring restaurant Nana recently hired Russell Burkett as its new Wine Steward. This puts Burkett in charge of more than 600 selections of wine from the 27th-floor restaurant's varied and sophisticated wine collection. He will also provide ongoing wine education and programs for Nana's wait staff and patrons, and recommend wines to be paired with executive chef Anthony Bombaci's menu items, like the slow roasted breast of duck, filet of prime beef as well as Nana's famous tasting menus.

Previously Burkett worked for upscale Dallas establishments such as Steel Restaurant and Lounge, Al Biernat's, and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

In between dousing gourmands with wine at high-end, high-volume restaurants, Russell applied for and was accepted into the prestigious internship program at Ramey Wine Cellars in Healdsburg, Calif., where he worked closely with David Ramey, one of California's most important winemakers, in the harvest production for the 2008 vintage. Russell hopes to achieve Level II certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2009.

In short, the guy knows his Fonsecas from his Fladgates, and has the little silver cup to prove it.