Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) founder Ann Tuennerman and her husband Paul have stepped down from their leadership roles at the organization.
The announcement was made Sept. 23 on the TOTC website (www.talesofthecocktail.com). According to the statement, both Tuennermans are "transitioning away from their roles in producing the world's renowned cocktail event, Tales of the Cocktail, effective immediately."
Tales was launched 15 years ago and initially offered tours and seminars to the public and cocktail industry people. It evolved into one of the largest annual alcohol industry events for bartenders. The multi-day conference, held each summer in New Orleans, draws bartenders and beverage industry professionals from all over the world for a series of seminars, tastings, product debuts and networking events.
The announcement came a day after the beverage industry website Neatpour.com reported Ann's decision to reinstate her husband to his TOTC position, from which he had resigned seven months prior. This past Carnival, the couple drew criticism following a widely publicized social media post of their participation in the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club parade. Ann was criticized by some for wearing blackface, which traditionally is worn by riders both black and white in the parade, and Paul was criticized for a comment he made that many deemed racially insensitive.
In an open letter to the TOTC community, Ann apologized for the social media post afterwards, and called the action "naive and inconsiderate."
The recent announcement said the company that runs Tales of the Cocktail, MOJO 911, will be helmed by Melissa Young, who has overseen the event as director of operations for the past nine years.
The release said: "We have devoted our professional careers to the hospitality industry even before the formation of Tales of the Cocktail and the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society. Our goal has always been to create something lasting that can benefit the industry and the people of New Orleans well beyond our years. This allows that to continue."