Coffee with Vanessa

You have all heard about our Sommelier Vanessa Treviño Boyd and I am so glad that she has gotten the recognition that she deserves. She was named one of the top 7 Sommeliers in the US by Food & Wine Magazine.  Now you know how talented she is…but I could have told you that two years ago!

It was about 2 years ago in fact that I was looking for someone to run the wine program at my restaurant that would be opening soon. One afternoon, I was talking on the phone to my friend Ludovic and he told me he had a friend that was a sommelier in New York and that she was about to move to Houston. I had to know who this person was immediately! The thought of a New Yorker who was soon to be in Houston, I knew that we would have at least one thing in common. As soon as we hung up, Ludovic contacted his friend Vanessa to tell her about my project and that I wanted to meet her.

Our first meeting was at the Starbucks around the corner from my house. The coffee shop had become my office over the last year as I worked hard on my project. I do not know if Starbuck’s is the best place to meet a sommelier from New York but I had no other choice. Vanessa showed up at the appointed time and place showing me that she was serious about doing business. We made chitchat while sipping our grande cappuccinos, discussing New York and the places that we enjoyed the most there. Then I had to know all about her path to becoming a sommelier. I was fascinated with her story and the fact that she had worked at Adour – a restaurant by the famous Frenchman, Alain Ducasse!

After that, it was my turn to share a little history and tell the story of how I got to Houston. I told her all about Bisto Moderne and about how I became known as the French Cowboy. Then I was explained why I love Houston so much and why I chose to make this city my own.  After that, I laid out all my plans for the new restaurant.

At this point, we had spoken for a couple of hours and I knew that I wanted to work with Vanessa but I just did not know when it would be possible. The restaurant was not ready and I could not commit to a date. I had to let her know.

Well, Vanessa knew how to keep herself busy while my plans for the restaurant were being finalized (I was not the only one in town to hear of her wine expertise). Fortunately she was able to come on board a couple of months before we opened and she developed the entire wine list at Philippe Restaurant + Lounge from scratch.  Now we work together closely, especially on wine dinners.  She will tell you, “It all starts with the wine!” She makes her selection of different wines and then I give her a list of ingredients that are in season. She sees what fruits and vegetables will work with the wines selected and then I add a meat or fish to each dish. Then we come back together and collaborate on sauces where they are needed. Make sure to come to one of our wine dinners; the next one is April 18th.

Now I would like you to meet Vanessa herself. She will give you a tour of her wine room and show you some of her favorite wines!

French lesson of the day: Sommelier, quel vin s’accordera avec le navarin ?

Translation: Wine steward, what wine would go well with the lamb stew?

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