Kelly Wheeler, Senior Instructor
Kelly taught his first wine class in 1972 while pursuing dual MS and MBA degrees at MichiganStateUniversity. Since then he has continued to expand his passion for and knowledge of wines. Kelly is an enthusiastic student of the world of wine and is currently a Certified Specialist of Wine and a Certified Specialist of Spirits
with the Society of Wine Educators; and a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Kelly is working towards the Certified Wine Educator degree. Areas of special interest and expertise include Italy, Germany, Greece, France, and Wine Analysis.
Kelly’s passion for wine has taken him to the wine producing regions of the world including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and California. Travel plans include Sicily, Greece, and central Europe.
Kelly is also a Private Chef and teaches cooking and wine pairing at various venues in Atlanta.
Along with his teaching responsibilities at The Atlanta Wine School Kelly enjoys conducting wine-focused events in private homes and event facilities.
Kelly was the founder of “Con Vinum” a wholesale wine distributor specializing in fine family estate wines from around the world. Con Vinum is now part of Eagle Rock Distributing where Kelly serves as Portfolio Manager.
Certified Specialist of Wine
Certified Specialist of Spirits
Bill Reynolds, Wine Instructor
Bill has been involved with the Atlanta Wine School for more than four years as a student, volunteer and instructor. He has taught consumer classes on introduction to wine appreciation and food and wine pairing as well as the primarily industry focused Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) courses.
Bill has worked as a distributor for a wine wholesaler where he conducted trade and consumer tastings, wine dinners, and other wine-related events.
“I enjoy dynamic, interactive instruction, as opposed to ‘death by PowerPoint.’ I think it’s important to take students through a brief course on proper tasting techniques, starting with the proper holding of a stemmed wine glass.”
Certified Specialist of Wine
French Wine Scholar
Wine and Spirits Educational Trust Level III
Debbie Ruskin, Wine Instructor
As a former restaurateur, catering business owner, and wine wholesale rep, Debbie is firmly grounded in the culinary arts. For the last three years, Debbie has been taking courses at Atlanta Wine School, as well as assisting instructors. In 2008 she began teaching her own courses, as well as conducting private events.
Melissa Pelkey-Hass, Chef Instructor
Melissa was born with a whisk in her hand. Over the years, her love for cooking and competition has been carefully crafted into an award-winning obsession. Melissa uses her culinary skills to compete in cooking and recipe competitions locally and nationwide. Her craft has earned over 320 State Fair Blue Ribbons, 160 Red Ribbons and titles.
Awards include,over 320 State Fair Blue Ribbons, 160 Red Ribbons and titles of Spam Grand Champion, Fleishman’s Yeast Baking Champion, Hidden Valley Ranch Recipe Winner, KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce Recipe Winner, Eagle Condensed Milk Bar Cookie Champion, Kayro Syrup Dessert Recipe Winner, the Lexington Collard Green Queen, the Lexington County Peach Festival Cooking Competition Winner for multiple years, and most recently, Chicago Cutlery’s “The Cut” Sandwich National Grand Champion. She has had over 100 recipes published in national publications such as Taste of Home, Southern Living, Epicures and Healthy Cooking books and magazines. Melissa writes a blog called The Front Porch Gourmet, blending recipes with Southern humor. She likes to share all types of recipes from “New York Classy to Southern and Sassy”. When asked why she feels the need to share her passion for cooking with others. She simply replies, “Because life is too short to eat ugly food.” To learn more about Melissa, visit her blog at www.thefrontporchgourmet.wordpress.com.
Ophelia Santos, WSET Instructor
Ophelia Santos, D.W.S., is a veteran of the food and beverage industry and a respected educator. She is the founder/director of WineWise, Atlanta’s first Approved Program Provider for WSET certification classes. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Law & Diplomacy from Tufts University and a level 4 Diploma with Merit from WSET.
She is also an Accredited Instructor for both Burgundy and Bordeaux.She
spent a number of years working in brand management with the Procter & Gamble Company, after which she turned entrepreneur, owning and
operating independent coffee bars, wine bars and restaurants in Atlanta
for 16 years. She was the Wine, Spirits & Beverage Editor for Flavors
Magazine in Atlanta, as well as the North American PR/Marketing Director for Viña Ventisquero, one of Chile’s top ten wineries. She continues to consult for various winery clients in the areas of marketing and PR. After developing and launching the Food & Beverage Degree programs at the International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Atlanta in 2007, she continues to teach in the program as Lead Faculty and is an adjunct instructor in the new Department of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University.
Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 4 Diploma (With Merit)
Jack Crawford, Chef Instructor
Chef Jack turned his passion for cooking and great food from a hobby into a career. After graduating with honors from the culinary program at the Art Institute of Atlanta, Jack jumped into the exciting and diverse world of event catering. Working for the top caterers in the city, he learned to create and execute restaurant-quality dishes in locations as diverse as home kitchens to the wing of an airplane.
Jordan Lynn Traylor, Chef Instructor
I raised in Southern California but have lived all over the world and country. I attended Spelman College in Atlanta Ga and am an honors graduate of Culinary Arts School at Le Cordon Bleu. After college I moved to Italy at the end of culinary school and worked at the B&B Mami Camilla in Piano di Sorrento and also the Michelin Starred restaurant Il Buco in Sorrento to sharpen and expand upon my passion for Mediterranean cuisine.
Living in Italy is where my love affair with wine began. Upon returning to the states I got a job with Food Network’s Iron Chef Kevin Rathbun’s Italian restaurant concepts KR Steakbar in Atlanta.
Following KR Steakbar I then moved on to become one of the Execution Chef’s at one of Georgia’s most highly rated catering companies, Bold American Events. I am also the Sous Chef to former White House Chef John Moeller at the non-profit organization City Of Refuge that provides aid to domestic violence victims and their children. In Jan 2015, I launched Taste It Events and have been working full time in the states and internationally as Private Chef to an elite list of celebrity clientele. Working in my industry and outreach is something I plan on transferring into my transition into the wine world also. I am pursuing all of the highest levels of the wine sommelier certifications and am ready to take on this new adventure of sharing my love and passion for food and wine with the world.
Paula Ballard, Chef Instructor
Chef Paula was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana where she discovered her passion for cooking at an early age. “Food is not just for sustenance…it’s a way of life”. After several successful years in the corporate and entrepreneurial sectors, Chef Paula returned to her first loves…cooking and entertaining. She’s been featured in The Atlantan and Bon Appétit magazines.
She has also been featured in The Treasures of Georgia for her innovative cuisine and southern hospitality style.
Chef Paula later took on another venture… Co-Owner/Executive Chef of the Sycamore Grill, a fine dining restaurant housed in an 18th century historic mansion in the heart of downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia. Well known for its fabulous cuisine, it became a local favorite and destination spot. During her reign, Chef Paula took the Sycamore Grill to new heights with innovative cuisine and southern hospitality at its finest.
In the fall of 2010, Chef Paula devoted her efforts to Chef Paula and Friends, offering Private Chef Hosted Dining, Wine Tasting Events, and Culinary Fundraising for local area charities and organizations. In summer of 2011, she took on yet another role as General Manager of Landon’s Restaurant and Bar, and The Tasting Room at Landon’s in Southwest Atlanta. For Wineauxs Only was launched in the spring of 2013. For her non-profit and charitable endeavors, Chef Paula founded the National Alliance for Special Event Fundraising, to provide education, support and networking opportunities through the use of special events for fundraising initiatives.
For Wineauxs Only serves Metro Atlanta and Macon, Georgia as well as New Orleans, Louisiana.
Seung Hee Lee-Kwan, Chef Instructor
Chef Seung has a unique background. She was born and raised in South Korea, studied traditional Korean royal court cuisine at the renowned Taste of Korea Research Institute, and has her PhD in Human Nutrition from the Johns Hopkins University. She believes in the perfect marriage between tradition and science and creating delicious and healthful dishes. Check out her creations and pairings on Instagram @Koreanfusion.