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Best of People & Philanthropy 2023

Congratulations to the winners of Ranch & Coast’s Best of People & Personalities 2023

Sandra Maas
Image Credits Vincent Knakal

TV Personality

Kimberly Hunt KGTV 10News
Catherine Garcia NBC San Diego

Radio Personality

Ben & Woods 97.3 The Fan
Jesse Lozano Star 94.1


Juan Soto San Diego Padres
Alex Morgan San Diego Wave FC

Executive Chef

Jason Knibb Nine-Ten
Jeffrey Strauss Pamplemousse Grille


David Cohn Cohn Restaurant Group
Arsalun Tafazoli Consortium Holdings


Chris Russo Nine-Ten
Evan Valle Sandpiper

Readers’ Choice, Best Sommelier:
Chris Russo

A frequent winner on our Best of Ranch & Coast pages, Nine-Ten Restaurant Wine Director & Sommelier Chris Russo’s path into the world of wine was not intentional. While attending UC Santa Barbara, Russo served (unbeknownst to him) the great Julia Child, who ordered a soda water with five ice cubes and three dashes of bitters. Upon presenting the drink incorrectly, Child politely admonished Russo and asked him to bring her exactly what she’d ordered. Once aware of who she was, Russo, though embarrassed, found that he’d learned a lesson in the art of listening and attention to detail. Despite receiving his Bachelor of Science degree and a master’s degree in biotechnology, Russo discovered that his original path to a career in biotech was not his calling. So, the then-server at Nine-Ten committed himself to pursuing a certification as Sommelier. He received the top score on his Introductory Sommelier exam in a class of more than 100 testers, and became a Certified Sommelier only six months later. Russo began working as Wine Director at Nine-Ten, where today he acts as a mentor by sharing his knowledge of food and wine with co-workers and guests alike. He remains an integral part of the team, recognized frequently by guests for his outstanding service, expertise, and wine recommendations. thegrandecolonial.com

Chris Russo
Chris Russo

Bartender/Beverage Director

Rob McShea Grind and Prosper Hospitality
Gabriel Salcido Callie 


Joan Waitt 
Ernest Rady 


Promises2Kids promises2kids.org
San Diego Food Bank sandiegofoodbank.org

Featured Image:

Editor’s Pick, Trailblazer: Sandra Maas

Longtime television journalist Sandra Maas has been making news of her own in recent years, suing McKinnon Broadcasting Co., former owners of KUSI-TV, for pay inequity and retaliation. Maas claimed the station fired her after she complained she was making far less than her male co-anchor. The jury agreed, awarding her nearly $1.8 million, and the judge later awarded her attorneys millions more in fees. Even before the verdict was read, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria named Maas the city-wide “Woman of Distinction,” later recognizing her during a ceremony in City Council chambers. “It’s fitting that today, which is Equal Pay Day, we’re honoring someone who stood up for equal pay not just for herself but for all women,” he said. 

Maas, who is board president of the Women’s Museum of California, also earned an Emmy for her video series Trailblazing Women, which focuses on those who have broken barriers. Although McKinnon Broadcasting, which sold KUSI to Nexstar Media Group recently, has indicated it will appeal the verdict, Maas remains undaunted despite her four-year-plus legal battle. “From the very beginning, I had faith in the justice system, the merits of my case, and my incredible team of lawyers,” she says. “Though brutal at times, this years-long fight showed me that silence is never the answer. Your voice is a powerful tool. Nothing changes if you watch from the sidelines and stay silent.”


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