Thursday, May 20, 2010

Food & Beverage Pairing: Art, Science and Passion!

Early morning today. Pounded more coffee than usual so my mind was primed for some reflection. As luck would have it I ended up having a spiritual experience that oddly represented the topic at hand, creating successful pairing experiences.

Pairing the mellow groove of the Cosmic Game by Thievery Corporation (arguably the best world-inspired independent record of all time) with the book “Lessons in Wine Service from Charlie Trotter” was accidental. What happened was magical. The music is uplifting and melodic, soulful and exploratory and provides a foundation for the listener to go in their own direction. The book is focused, direct and full of information. The game, excellence in food and wine service. The stage, Charlie Trotter’s world renowned restaurant in Chicago and its remarkable staff.

The philosophy that launched and has nurtured Trotter's restaurant is incredible and offers insights that should be considered by anyone striving to create an organization of excellence in any trade.

Almost since I became aware of the role I have been pondering and refining a definition of what I think it is to be a sommelier. What I have explained to those that have asked is that I feel a sommelier is someone who is skilled in the application of art, science and their senses to the challenge of creating memorable food with beverage experiences. That definition goes well beyond just the food and drink; the actors, location, conversation and occasion all play a role in success.

Already halfway through the book I have considered the following elements of the Trotter philosophy to be guiding principles of my own journey:

1. Be flexible. Food is a moving target and both it, and beverages, need to be molded to maximize experiences.

2. Listen with the whole of your being for all the information you can glean from an opportunity to apply your skills. Share this knowledge with everyone involved in the event.

3. Know your environment and the assets of your peers, food and beverages to a depth that you can convey any of their facets needed to succeed.

4. Continually seek out new experiences and new education to enhance your skills. See the journey as the reason, not the destination.

5. Push yourself to be better each time you try and learn from things you don’t feel were done well.

With these principles in hand I feel an energy building that I can tap into to carry me as I continue on my own interesting and exciting journey.




Sandy said...

Jason, how inspiring! I have to get this book, it sounds like a great teacher. Good Luck with your Journey!

Jason Phelps said...

Thank you much. The book was something that came up in searches of other books on a sommelier reading list. It looked interesting and so far has been the most energizing of them all. It was a quick read too, which helps with application.