Saturday, May 1, 2010

Foodie Five # 10- Sara Fasolino

The previous post about our lovely evening at the Cellar Rat on Tuesday is a perfect segue to my latest Foodie Five. Sara Fasolino and I worked together in Marietta, Ohio many moons ago on the Becky Thatcher Showboat in their restaurant and lounge. Sara has always had a great appreciation for top cuisine and fine wines. She has parlayed that passion into a wonderful life in Chicago and she deserves every bit of success she's earned. Read on...

1)Tell me about this wonderful job of yours and how you found it.

I work for Morton's The Steakhouse and am based in Chicago. How did I get here? I fell ass backwards into it and am thankful and humbled every day that I get to do this job. When I was living in Columbus, Ohio there was a day where I had a defining moment. I can go anywhere in the world....why stay here? So I settled on Chicago and picked up and moved there. I had no job or contacts and wham....landed the dream job I did not know existed nor that I knew I wanted. I love working for Morton's. My self and my boss oversee the beverage programs for 77 international locations. I manage everything from inventory levels to pricing issues. I also get to travel to these locations a lot and host wine dinners, seminars and auctions such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation event in Beverly Hills. I enjoy all parts of my job but my favorite part is building the educational components and trying to manage training among the restaurants and the many employees.

2) Tell me about the Sommelier part of your job.

The other great thing about my job is working closely with the Court of Master Sommeliers. There are four very difficult exams to become a Master Sommelier. At Morton's, we send all of our managers in charge of wine through the Introductory Sommelier Exam. I coordinate this internationally as well as create study materials for the candidates to make sure we are setting them up for success. It is a very difficult exam.

3)You yourself are studying for....?

In my little world, I am currently studying for the Advanced Sommelier exam..for the second time. It is rare to pass this exam on the first attempt and I fully intend to pass on my second try in October(fingers crossed, please). You have to apply to take this exam and have three reference letters from Master Sommeliers. It is broken up into three parts: Theory(which is actually two parts),Service(which is actually three parts)and a Blind Tasting where you blind taste 6 wines in 24 minutes and identify the grape, the region, the vintage and the quality level-but you have to do this verbally and make sure you state certain perimeters in order for each wine. So, Sight, for instance, you have to verbalize the brightness, clarity, color, concentration, rim variation, evidence of gas, evidence of sediment and viscosity. Nose has another whole set as does Taste and then you have the Initial and Final conclusions. The toughest part of these exams is that there is no course work or classes. All of the studying is done on your own. It is a very daunting task.

4)What are some recent wine discoveries you've made?

I was in Greece in March and was really enamored with the wines. The Skouras Megas Oenos was brilliant(the 2006 is a bit better than the 2007). A white grape called Assyrtiko is lovely as is Malagousia. The wines are not easy to find and even more difficult to pronounce, but if you find a grape called Agrygrtiko(aka St. George)and it is from a region called Nemea you will most likely be very happy. Other recent finds are Dutton Goldfield Chardonnay-I was blown away by this wine-yum. Tony Soter Pinot Noir from the Williamette Valley is another recent mind-blower that I've found. Wine is so much about personal taste - I have found in making recommendations that similar grape varieties and regions are the easiest way to branch out of your comfort zone. So - say if you like Syrah and Shiraz maybe Zinfandel might be a good thing for you to try. Or if you know you like Cabernets from warmer climates like Sonoma and Paso Robles, you may really like an IGT wine from Tuscany like Ornellaia's Le Volte which is a Cabernet/Sangiovese blend.

5) What is your ultimate comfort food?

My Comfort food? That is a tough one....pasta with homemade meat sauce - cold - is probably my be all end all comfort food; I grew up on that. Ooohhh....stuffed pork chops, too.....
Living in Chicago has made me crave East Coast pizza - you can't find that here very easily - took me almost five years to find something close. Uhhhmmm....sometimes I really just want a piece of grilled chicken - plain....oh....and me some bacon. Oh! - okay - be all end all comfort flavor (not necessarily a dish) - Truffle - white or black, doesn't matter - truffle. yum.

Thank you, dear Sara. We'll all have our fingers crossed for the next exam-I know you'll ace it! Follow Sara on Twitter @SommelierSara!


Lisa Mandina said...

One place I would love to move would be Chicago. I wish I'd had the guts to do that.

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