It probably started with the Galloping Gourmet. When I was a very small child, there were two choices for culinary TV. Julia Child, the technical brick layer, giving the home cook a solid foundation in the culinary arts. The other was Graham Kerr. He was the host of a British cooking program that more closely resembles the phenomenon we now call the Food Network.
He would prepare a wide range of culinary masterpieces, from classic French dishes, to steak and kidney pie.
All of which he would pair with a particular wine, and then share with a lucky audience member. Again, I was just a child at the time, and in retrospect, I imagined the wine to have a flavor more akin to beef gravy, than fermented grape juice. But there it was.
It’s no surprise then, that I spent my entire adult life working in the hospitality business. I started my culinary career as a line cook in a very busy hotel outside of Orlando, Fl. I had the good fortune to be hired just before the executive chef that hired me, was sacked.
It was the early nineties, and whatever I saw on the food network the night before, I now had the freedom to cook, and run as my daily special. There wasn’t really too much I couldn’t find in that hotel walk in refrigerator.
Soon, I was doing chef walks through the dining room, as my new menu was a hit! Shortly afterwards, I moved back to NYC, where I worked at numerous NYC restaurants, including Cafe Luxembourg and the Odeon. Two NYC dinosaurs still operating to this day, and doing it right!
Finally, after a little more than a decade in the back of the house, I grew bored, and left the kitchen.
It’s worth mentioning that at that point, I had no idea that I would work in wine. I didn’t even drink until the day that a wine director friend offered me a taste of a 60 year old dessert wine. To this day, words fail me. The wine tasted like, memories. Shortly after that, I enrolled in the American Sommelier Association’s Viticulture and Vinification course.
After graduating, as a working sommelier. I’ve had the pleasure of working under such accomplished chefs such as Bobby Flay, at Mesa Grill, Marcus Sammuelsson at Aquavit, and I was even responsible for opening and training all of front of the house staff at Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality BBQ.
I have since retired from the restaurant business, and spend my time running an urban wine tour company, Pair Wine Tours, and spreading the gospel of wine everywhere I can.