Hometown: Las Vegas
Profession: Corporate sake sommelier, SushiSamba Restaurants, Sugarcane Nightclub, Shoppes at Palazzo
Profile: A philosophy degree from UNLV wasn’t nearly enough for a young Soto, who had worked as a waitress since the age of 19. She returned to UNLV for a degree in advertising and quite by chance took over student teaching her wines class mid-semester. The high concentration of Japanese students she encountered encouraged her to bolster her sake knowledge, and Soto quickly became hooked. She has since passed her Court of Masters 1st Level Sommelier test, completed the World Sake Professional Level Certification program, won an award from the Niigata Prefecture for selling the most sake from their prefecture outside Japan and, in March 2008, returned to Japan to pass her Masters Level Certification, the highest level available to English speakers.
Why I do what I do: “So many people think that sake is just hot sake, that battery acid you drink at 3 a.m. with bad sushi! Last year I tasted about 4,000 sakes, and I can’t think of one that tasted like another.”
Latest accomplishment: Soto launched SushiSamba’s Sake 101 class this month, and already the $85 class—complete with a five-course dinner—is having to add days to accommodate the demand.
Quote: “The rules are short and simple: It’s cold not hot, sips not shots, and if you drop it in a beer I’ll call security.”