Sake Tengoku’s portfolio of high quality, small production sake producers have never been available in the U.S.A. Sake Tengoku is a partnership of two industry veterans, acclaimed sushi Chef Ken Tominaga and business manager Julie Bath.
Through our personal visits and contacts in Japan, we have carefully created a portfolio that represents some of the top sake regions in Japan, as well as, a diverse range of styles and price points. These sakes are already making a big impact in many of the top Asian and Western Cuisine restaurants in California, New York , Boston, DC, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Las Vegas, Hawaii and Oregon.
Julie Bath has spent the last thirty years working in many different aspects of the beverage and hospitality industry, from cooking professionally, managing a million-dollar catering operation, hospitality and marketing at wineries, to importing wine. She originally met Ken Tominaga at Hana Restaurant and Go Fish and immediately became a fan of his culinary expertise and his appreciation of sake. Julie’s experience in importing wine enabled the two of them to create Sake Tengoku, a portfolio of high quality, artisan sakes.
Julie manages all aspects of the business, sales and shiping and compliance for Sake Tengoku. Despite this day-to-day responsibility, Julie has managed to squeeze visits to Japan into her busy schedule, personally visiting their partner breweries throughout the country.
Key to the success of Sake Tengoku, Julie carefully develops the appropriate distribution partners in the USA.
Julie passed her Sake Professional Course in 2014 and her WSET Level 3 Sake Course in 2015 and is actively involved in educational trainings for accounts and distributors throughout the US. Her love of sake grows every day and spends much of her time studying and reading to increase her knowledge of the industry.
Recently traveling again through Japan in March of 2019, Julie spent full days with each of her six, small family-owned breweries located in the prefectures of Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma and Niigata. She was able to experience firsthand the process of brewing and photograph many aspects of this season and capture the essence of their art in new photos.
During 2020, Julie saw a need to expand the Sake Tengoku website to encourage and include an opportunity for consumer sales. Her tech team designed a shopping cart which has proved beneficial and will continue to sell DTC.
Julie continues to explore new potential brewery partners and welcomes inquiries or referrals. email@example.com
Jessica Di Fede
Director of Sales & Marketing
Jessica Di Fede was born and raised in Orange County, California. She ventured into the restaurant world at the age of 16, and loved it from the beginning. After a few years of working her way up through various positions, she became a server, and her father-ever the wine lover-began to teach her about food and wine pairing, the delight of the combination done well, and the accompanying power of the upsell. After a few years of restaurant work, she landed in college in Santa Barbara, where she was far more enthralled in her work in restaurants and local wineries than her chosen emphasis of Political Science at school. Realizing this, Jessica moved up to wine country, and finished her degree at Sonoma State University, receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, with an emphasis in Wine Business.
During her latter years in school in Sonoma, Jessica worked as a server and wine assistant at El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma. During that time, she studied for exams through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and received Certification as a Sommelier. Around the same time she passed the certified exam, Jessica landed a job as a Sommelier for Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bistro, where she’d eventually be promoted to Head Sommelier. After a couple years at Bouchon, Jessica made the transition into management, and became Assistant General Manager-Beverage Director at Thomas Keller’s ad hoc. Throughout these years, she was able to travel internationally to pursue food and wine studies abroad-learning through experience in each place-through awarded scholarships, and on her own.
In May of 2016, Jessica and her fiance (and eventual-husband), Curtis Di Fede, opened Miminashi, a Japanese-style izakaya in the heart of downtown Napa. The restaurant served robatayaki and izakaya staples in a warm, convivial environment, and was a favorite for many locals and industry folks in the community. Over the 4.5 years of being open, Jessica wore many hats-including as Beverage Director, emphasizing an internationally-focused wine list and plentiful sake program, as well as overseeing operations alongside Curtis, and operating as General Manager for the team and on the floor. The restaurant closed at the end of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. Jessica joined our team in early 2021, and we’ve been thrilled to utilize her knowledge of and passion for sake in her role in marketing, education and sales. In her down time, you can find Jessica cooking, spending time outdoors with her dogs, heading to the beach with Curtis, and scuba diving.
Chef Ken Tominaga’s passion and knowledge of food extends into sake, inspiring him to consult for Sake Tengoku, an import company of small, artisanal, sake producers never before introduced to the US market.
Meeting Julie Bath, who created and manages Sake Tengoku, allowed Ken to finally serve these special sake at his restaurants.
Ken is in frequent contact with many of these small sake producers throughout Japan. His search for the best sake continues as he travels biannually each year to Japan. Sake Tengoku allows Ken to participate in the selection of sake, creating the same type of unique, high-quality sake program that rivals his reputation for unique, high quality food. Sake is becoming a very popular part of the food world these days and more and more people are intrigued with sake and learning the details. Just as there are many types of wine and ways to pair it with food, the same goes for sake.
Ken is known as a true master with an impeccable palate. Tominaga is involved in several restaurants, including his own Hana Japanese Restaurant (of 31 years), PABU Izakaya and Ramen Bar, a partnership with celebrated chef and founder of Mina Group, Michael Mina, located in Boston, San Francisco and coming soon to Washington DC. You can find Sake Tengoku products at all his restaurants. www.saketengoku.com
Tominaga sees his restaurants as a forum in which he can continue to grow and refine his cuisine. “I put my spirit into the dishes I create,” he says about his pursuit of sushi perfection. “I adjust myself to the sushi I make each day – the temperature, the rice, how to slice the fish — because the ingredients I work with will always be a little bit different.”