Rising Star Beverage Director Theresa Paopao of Ribelle - Biography

Brookline, MA

March 2015

Theresa Paopao’s initial career pursuits were far from wine and even further from Boston. Originally from Hawaii, her degree in Technical Design for the Theater drove her to the East Coast for graduate studies when she enrolled at the Yale School of Drama. A change in career goals led Paopao to Boston where she pondered her next move.

Working as a server is the thing that ultimately shined a light on her future when Paopao took it upon herself to learn about her restaurant's wine list. That curiosity blossomed into full-blown interest via more structured wine lessons at the Sweet Life Café in Martha’s Vineyard. Eventually, Paopao returned to Boston and joined the front of the house team at The Federalist, a restaurant known for its extensive wine list. Other stints in Boston included retail sales at Best Cellars and manager at the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro.

In 2004, she joined the staff at Ana Sortun’s Oleana to expand the wine program and manage service, where she received a 2009 StarChefs.com Boston Rising Stars Award. She received her BarSmarts Advanced certification from the Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) in May 2009 and became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers in January of 2009. Paopao then consulted with Ana Sortun on the wine pairings for Oleana’s cookbook, Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Taking a break from Boston, Paopao joined the Momofuku empire in 2010, taking on the roll of wine director and opening the company's Toronto outpost. When she returned to Boston, in 2013, she joined Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer as they prepared to open Toro NYC, but instead of heading back to the Big Apple once it opened, this time she stayed in Bean Town. Currently, Paopao is director of operations and beverage director for Tim Maslow's Ribelle and Strip T's, whom she first met at Momofuku Ssam.

Paopao has participated as a wine panelist for the Nantucket Wine Festival, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs Conference, and the New England Food Service and Lodging Expo. She also served as judge at the Decanter Wold Wine Awards in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and was named Boston's Best Sommelier by Boston Magazine in 2013.