About Us

Brandon

Hello TSF fans! My name is Brandon Nealey. You're reading this because I am lucky enough to have a flavor whiz kid-brother who knew that I could apply my curiosity and work ethic to the kitchen craft. He kick-started the professional development of my palate in the summer of 2008 by vouching for my application to work at the prestigious Siro's Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York. I gave it my all, which lead to the great privilege of helping open the doors to two additional Siro's as Garde Manger Chef.

The first, Siro's Trattoria, was a sister-restaurant to the original, also located in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was there that I was mentored by Chef Tom Dillon. His unsurpassed ability to describe and demonstrate ingredient-specific preparation and presentation technique was eye (and mouth) opening. Concurrently, he made sure to satisfy my outward craving for challenge by imbuing me with an elemental understanding of the art, science, and engineering from which a gourmet dish is produced. I was fulfilled, and so blossomed in that position, which led to an offer to move to NYC where millions of dollars were being poured into the development of Siro's Manhattan.

Seizing the opportunity, I assumed the role of Garde Manger Chef once more, this time with a section of the kitchen twice the size of my previous two in Saratoga. Inspired by the Big Apple, and by the brilliant Siro's Manhattan team, I quickly developed and streamlined systems for creativity in new dish development, workspace optimization through precise spatial organization, preparation and production time management, and last, but not least, alignment of my wonderful Garde Manger team to a daily vision of perfect service-time execution.

With That Special Flavor, I embark on a multidisciplinary path, blending my love for the creation and consumption of fine food and beverages, a penchant for entertainment (jester-level, e.g. Touchstone), and storied history in computer science. Prepare to fall in love with That Special Flavor, and prepare your kitchen for what we have in store for you. (Go buy a sharp knife, a cutting board, and a stack of kitchen towels!)

Shoot me an email! brandon@thatspecialflavor.com

Michaella

Well hello! Thank you so much for swinging by! Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Michaella, and I come from a long line of food lovers. It's deeply ingrained in my DNA at this point.

Growing up, my parents were always in the kitchen. My dad cooked dinner every night, and my mom was the master of desserts. At an absurdly young age, she introduced me to the sheer joy of licking the cookie dough off of the beater, and I've been baking ever since. It wasn't until an unfortunate round of unemployment in my early 20s that I started teaching myself how to cook actual meals. If it weren't for those few months, I may still be eating freezer meals and overcooking steaks.

My interest in booze essentially materialized out of nowhere. I never experimented with alcohol in high school, and my college drinking experience mostly involved cans of light beer and shots of cheap tequila (gross). But my parents were regular wine drinkers, and they allowed my sisters and I to occasionally enjoy a small glass of wine with dinner, provided we didn't want to drive anywhere after. And, even though they mostly drank wine from a box, we were taught that wine was an accompaniment to a meal, and not something you guzzle just for the buzz. This respect for wine, even the cheap stuff, piqued my interest. By the end of my junior year of college, I had slowly begun to realize that the world of wine was not only delicious, but vast and complicated. I was so intrigued, I rearranged my whole schedule for my senior year at Johnson & Wales so that I could take actual wine classes on the culinary campus. It wasn't easy- there were prerequisites and everything!

One of my classes, Foundations of Wine & Spirits, incorporated the teachings of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, an internationally recognized wine program. At the end of the course, I took the opportunity to sit the WSET Level 2 exam. I passed, thankfully, and that certificate (as well as my fervent enthusiasm) has enabled me to work in the wine industry for the past 9 years. I've spent my time managing an upscale wine boutique, helping a Manhattan based French wine importer expand their reach to the Upstate area, serving as wine expert extraordinaire at a predominate wine and liquor store, and running the bar at a winery tasting room in downtown Saratoga.

All of this wine professionalism fueled my interest in beer. I've found that at the end of a long hard day of schlepping wine bottles, all I want is a nice, cold lager. Naturally, my curiosity in the wine realm quickly expanded to the beer realm, leading me to taste any and all new beers I come across. And, of course, the liquor world is a straight up playground for me. My love of booze, obsessive attention to detail, and keen interest in combining flavors can all be satiated with a cocktail shaker and a pretty garnish.

Send me an email! michaella@thatspecialflavor.com