Drink With Paraguay RPCV Philippe Newlin For a Solid A
For two nights every week, Philippe Newlin holds forth at the Business School and SIPA on the more exciting parts of the vinous world: the political economy of Spain, the open rebellions in Australia, the terroir-istes in Burgundy. As the tasting director for Wine & Spirits magazine and a long-time instructor at New York's International Wine Center and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust of London, Newlin has a story or two to spin.
A fast-talking native of Manhattan, who would be mute without his arms, Newlin knows how to relate the complexities of wine to just about anyone. At age 42, he has been a Peace Corps volunteer in Yhu ("blackwater"), Paraguay, a cab driver at the height of the crack epidemic, a waiter at Brasserie Les Halles ("back when the celebrities still went there"), and an investment banker with Swiss Bank Corp., now UBS. He speaks five languages and is leading the IWC's first courses in Spanish this spring. He doesn't come across as a wine geek, and his classes are more about enjoying what's in the glass than figuring out what rootstock a vintner's using.
He feeds off the raw wackiness that comes from mixing people and alcohol, even as he tries to maintain order and focus. The format of the class helps, with everyone seated in a semicircle around him, and the assistants only pour two wines at a time. There are notes on the blackboard, but the lecture is extemporaneous and always passionate. "If you like strawberries, gamay is your wine," he says, twirling a Beaujolais Villages. "Put this one in your lunchbox." For pairing food with a Volnay: "You have those garlicky snails, and then you have that bright cherry fruit, and then you're like, oh yeah. Or you're like, yuck, because it's snails."
Surprisingly enough, this light approach wasn't born from childhood familiarity with great wine, though his mother is from France. "Growing up, I spent every summer in the Loire Valley drinking bad wine mixed with water," he says. "It was only as a banker visiting South Africa that I had really good wine, and chucked the beer in favor of this stuff." Despite the loose structure, most of the course is focused on the practical side of things. After pouring the third and final round, he gives the temporarily restrained class his tips for enjoying wines as delicate and fragrant as pinot noir. Read more.
If wild women are said to wear red, then Namibia RPCV Toddre Monier must have a closet full of the hue
The owner of the "Wild Women Wear Red" shoe boutique knows a fashionable, comfortable pair of shoes when she sees them, and she knows how best to sell them. "I wanted to create a store that would not only be a sanctuary and communal space for women, but would also be a place of inspiration featuring shoes that comfort the soul," Monier says.
As a Peace Corps volunteer, Monier was on assignment in Namibia when she dreamt she owned a shoe store with a name that represented the fire, passion and wildness that exists in every woman. Upon returning to the United States in 2000, she and her husband opened the boutique, which owes its success to serving a specific niche market. The business was profiled in the Washington Post in May 2002.
"Washington, D.C., is a walking city, and we carry what no one else in the area has," says Monier of her stylish, functional footwear and handmade crocheted bags. "Although our clientele comes from all walks of life, our main customers tend to be professional women and graduate students." Based on her shop's steady business, Monier hopes to open another shoe boutique in the area and someday buy a home overseas. Until then, she is content to empower women to be both fashionable and comfortable in their footwear. Read more.
Korea RPCV Cris Groenendaal has played the role of the Phantom in the hit musical "The Phantom of the Opera" more than 860 times on Broadway
After Groenendaal graduated from college, he joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in South Korea. Then he returned to Erie, got a job in a bank, and auditioned for local theater productions. "There was a lot of local really wonderful community theater," he says of Eerie. "I started doing all these different roles, from Shakespeare to Eugene O'Neill. I got a lot of wonderful experience." In July 1975, a stint with a summerstock theater in Ohio helped Groenendaal earn membership with Actors' Equity -- the national union for performers and stage managers in professional theater. By September of that year, Groenendaal had decided to move to New York to pursue acting full-time. "There were a lot of unknowns, but I wouldn't have taken such a plunge if I didn't feel like I could do it," he says of the transition.
There were plenty of challenges in New York, from finding an apartment to auditioning for four years before finally landing a role in the Broadway show "Sweeney Todd." "You go with a little bit of money, and you just start to learn the ropes by talking to the right people, auditioning and taking the right classes," he says of starting out in New York. Groenendaal says his "big break" came when he was hired as a chorus member and understudy for the lead male role of Anthony in "Sweeney Todd" in 1979. Victor Garber, who originally played Anthony, left the show after six months, leaving Groenendaal to take over the role.
In the 26 years since then, Groenendaal has performed in a myriad of other productions -- including "The Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway, where he started with the role of Monsieur Andre and later went on to play the phantom -- and produced two albums with Anderson. The couple also has performed together across the country. He has soaked up the limelight in a slew of other roles on Broadway, including the original Monsieur Andre in "The Phantom of the Opera;" Miles Gloriosus in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum;" Major Rizzolli in "Passion;" Louis in "Sunday in the Park with George;" and Anthony in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Read more.