Episode 336 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Cedric Nicaise who is the Wine Director of the restaurant Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan.
I think when it comes the top wine buying position at a world famous restaurant, a lot of regular people sort of wonder to themselves, like, how do you get that job? It all seems somewhat mysterious, really. Do you need to grow up drinking wine? Is it important that your family is into wine? Do you need to go to school for wine? Pass some certifications? Cedric Nicaise’s own story is very interesting to listen to, because he has managed to arrive at the top of the heap of sommelier jobs, and also because he is very honest about what that has meant for him personally. Was it important to have a lifelong interest in wine, swirling and sniffing at the age of six or under? It sounds from Cedric that the answer is no, but rather that what has been important in his own development has been maintaining focus on a goal and being as much of a team player as a hard worker. Maybe that is not the first thing you think of when it comes to sommeliers, the team, but with the development of seven person sommelier squads at restaurants like Cedric’s, it only makes sense. Team skills have become crucial for a job at that level. Personal growth, for Cedric, has been about building the people around him. There is indeed a sort of Everyman message to what Cedric has to say, and if you have ever thought about what it would take to make it as a top sommelier yourself, this may be the best interview you ever listen to on the subject.
Listen to the stream above, or check it out in iTunes.
I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine