Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What I've trained for

I have rewritten and deleted this overdue blog post about 4 times. I wanted to talk about the genesis of my decision to work with Justin and Karen at Oxheart in some epic sweeping fashion. But honestly, it doesn't matter.

How I got where I am is a way less exciting story than where I'm about to be.

In exactly ten days, I will leave Central Market. For a restaurant.

For the first time in my life, I get to write a wine list from scratch. I have been "taking over" wine lists and beverage programs my whole career. Now, the controls are entirely in my hands, and I'm more than a little bit intimidated.

I wish these prices weren't over 100 years old.
I've been packing up my apartment for the past few days, and I keep finding study materials. Practice tests. Flash cards. Tasting notes. Dictionary sized books. It has dawned on me that this is the moment I've been training for for the past six years. One could make the argument that for a while, I was so busy learning the rules of the game that I forgot how much fun it is to play.

The chance to start my own beverage program really isn't enough though. It needs an actual restaurant attached to it. The only way I could justify the kind of list I want is if I had a kitchen that was driven by people determined to blow minds. To show people something different and fundamentally delicious.

That's how I view Justin's food. Pairing beverages with it is like clinging to a bullet train for dear life. It moves so fast and changes so rapidly that it requires every ounce of my brainpower to keep up with it. It is the ultimate challenge for a sommelier, the kind that I would argue comes along only once in a lifetime.

Yes I have action movie references for everything.

Houston is the city that taught me everything I know about wine and service. I suppose I could have taken that experience to San Francisco or Chicago or New York and done ok. However, I am beaming with pride to say that I am helping open a restaurant in my hometown. I would rather fight for the future of Houston than join the already established culture of SF or NY. We are teeming with brilliant minds that are producing work that is already rivaling the more established restaurant cities. When a bunch of us get together for a pop-up it feels like my own personal rat pack.

This is how cool I felt during The Money Cat.

More than anything, everything has been so much goddamn fun. I cannot wipe the grin off my face.

Joining Oxheart is unquestionably the most weapons grade thing I have ever done, ever. Justin and Karen are an amazing team, and I am exhilarated to work with them. It will be the adventure of a lifetime. I cannot wait, and I hope to see all of you there.