Marsha Palanci, Founder & CEO
Speaking French brought me to the world of gastronomy. My first job after graduate school was promoting French wine and foods at Sopexa where I was the resident cheese expert. Both areas of expertise were part of my early DNA having been raised in France and Belgium. Later, I joined Schieffelin & Co—a wine importer now part of LVMH—where I further enhanced my knowledge and passion for wines promoting iconic brands such as Dom Pérignon, Hennessy Cognac, Ruffino, Simi, and Cinzano. An entrepreneur at heart, I started Cornerstone Communications 25 years ago and overnight became my own boss. Now when I meet winemakers and winery owners around the world and hear their remarkable stories and taste their wines, I constantly remind myself that I have chosen one of the most enviable jobs in the world.
Favorite Food and Drink: If money were no object, I’d indulge in Beluga caviar and Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne. But in the real world, it would be my father’s City Chicken with my mother’s West Virginia version of scalloped potatoes, paired with the same Dom Ruinart. A woman needs to spoil herself after all.
Natural Talent I’d like to have: a full, rich voice which would induce goose bumps when people heard me sing.
Favorite Motto: “Carpe diem.” The Roman poet, Horace, was as right back then as now. In today’s unpredictable world, it is the only way to live your life.
Beth Cotenoff, Senior Vice-President
The first wine I fell for was Russian River Pinot Noir in my early days of living in Manhattan. Working in Paris for 5+ years (in the hotel industry, in marketing, teaching English), Beaujolais and Chinon were the wines of choice. A Francophile from birth (it runs in the family), when I moved back to New York, a job at Sopexa was an excuse to concentrate on French food and wine for a living. As Sopexa’s Director of PR, I managed campaigns for Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Cognac, and Richart Chocolat, among others. After a brief stint at DeVries PR working with Gallo’s international brands, Cornerstone welcomed me and my focus turned to Italy, Spain, and occasionally the New World. A part-time gig at NYC retailer Astor Wines & Spirits further broadened my horizons. I recently earned the WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits (level 4) and hope to continue my education on the ground or shall I say, in the vineyards!
Favorite Food & Drink: Blanc de Blancs Champagne with oysters or fish tacos, salted-caramel gelato or my homemade Nutella pound cake.
Natural Talent I’d Like to Have: If reincarnated, I’d be a musician or an athlete. Without aptitude for either, I attend as many concerts as possible and am a fervent tennis fan.
Favorite Motto: “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” - Hilaire Belloc
Carli Vierke, Account Executive
I fell into the world of food and wine when I was hired for my first serving job at 19 years old. Finding myself in the midst of a culinary “scene” I hadn’t realized existed, I suddenly wanted to discover everything there was to know about it. This often meant spending nearly all my wages eating and drinking at some of the finest establishments around Vancouver BC, and teaching myself to cook at the same time. I continued working in restaurants for 8 years, eventually becoming a food writer in Toronto, which in many ways led me to pursue an MA in Media, Culture and Communications at NYU. Ultimately these experiences have coalesced in the work I do today - public relations for food and beverage – a true marriage of my passions and expertise.
Favorite Food and Drink: A pre-dinner aviation cocktail made my best friend (her ratios are godly) followed by freshly made pasta with Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce and a brick of good parmesan to top it with.
Natural Talent I’d like to have: If I had a natural talent for math, the frustrations and stress of my high-school years would have been much alleviated, I suspect.
Favorite Motto: Live in the past and regret everything.
Erica brancato, Account coordinator
Hailing from a long line of Italians, I’ve always appreciated the way a great meal and a glass of wine can bring people together. Whether it’s experimenting with new recipes, trying out the latest restaurant or sitting down with my family for a big Sunday dinner, food has always been an integral part of my social life. Working as a server for different restaurants, I deepened my knowledge of food and wine, and envisioned a career in the industry. Upon completing my degree in Journalism and Communication at the University of Connecticut, and following a year-long Public Relations internship at NBC Connecticut, I moved to New York City and found my way to Cornerstone. I am excited for the opportunity to continue to learn and grow with the team, while also parlaying my favorite things into a career.
Favorite Food & Drink: Homemade fettuccine alfredo or spaghetti alla carbonara with a crisp white wine. Add in soft serve ice cream from Connecticut’s Rose Orchards, and I’d be thrilled!
Natural Talent I’d Like to Have: I would love to be able to paint and to have that natural ability to draw and create art from my own perspective.
Favorite Motto: Meraki - it’s a Greek word meaning “to do something with soul, creativity or love.” It means putting all of yourself into what you do.