Originally from Coral Springs, Florida, Austin McKenna grew to love food and began to engage himself in each step of the process, from farm to fork. He began cooking professionally at the age of sixteen. During high school, he was a dual-enrollment student at a local culinary college and Coral Glades High School. It was here where he truly began to sharpen his skills and widen his knowledge of food. After school, he would head to work and refine his craft further. Austin won regional culinary competitions for the tri-county area and placed second in the SkillsUSA Culinary Competition for the state of Florida when he was 17.
After high school, Austin moved to Hyde Park, New York to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts Management at The Culinary Institute of America. During his first two years at the school, he was part of the culinary team that won first place in the American Culinary Federation’s New York State Culinary Competition. In the early hours in the morning, one could find him reading about wine, practicing knife cuts, and more before most people rise.
Austin began his career in wine in the beginning of 2015. As a student of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Austin spent a semester in Napa Valley living the heart of St. Helena embracing the region’s leading wineries and vineyards. After this semester, he spent time in Italy to view the differences between New World and Old World wines first-hand.
After graduation in the summer of 2015, Austin transitioned from New York to East Tennessee to begin his career as a sommelier at luxury resort Blackberry Farm. During his time with the resort, he learned the stories of over 10,000 selections of wine (160,000 bottles), over 700 spirits, and refined his mechanics and techniques around the dining room. Austin received the Walter Clore Scholarship from the Guild of Sommeliers in October 2016 for passing the Certified Sommelier Exam with the highest score. He is currently pursuing his Advanced Sommelier Certification.