The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 65 of 140

october 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  65 What are trying to do, break my record at The Sardine Factory? Three more years and it's yours. How did you start here? I was looking for a bigger opportunity, and wow, did I find it! We have 800 seats and host about a thousand customers each day. Our clientele is so diverse; we have the anniversary couple sitting next to a sports star, Hollywood celebrities next to them and music execs one table over. You never know what to expect, but it makes for a thrill ride each night. It's exciting to come to work. The wine list? That must be an adventure! Our list changes every three weeks and features 700 wines. Our Corporate Wine Director, Robbie Joe Oliver, keeps us on our toes and always delivers the "good stuff" for the list. She's one of my favorite people, a true professional. What do they drink here? Let me guess, GREAT BIG CALIFORNIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON? Oh yes, but you'd be surprised: We do amazingly well with Champagne and sparkling wine. We sell a lot of Pinot Noir and are really delving into the Grenache/Syrah wines. Chardonnay is king of the white wines, but you'd be sur- prised at the amount of Sauvignon Blanc we sell. Great segue, my man. Let's taste this fabulous (my agent said to say that LOL) Pouilly Fumé from La Doucette. Incredible aroma, and what a great classic from a legendary region! I agree this wine is terrific. What a pairing with our famed shellfish tower. Big and rich, with great length. Is it possible to have a local favorite from the sur- rounding wine regions? We sell Santa Barbara wines like we were in the middle of town. The big Napa wines do especially well here, and we're always on the lookout. Price is not really an issue for many of our customers, but we work very hard to deliver value and uniqueness to each guest. OK, I have to ask: What do the stars drink? A lot of very excellent Champagne. It's interesting that many of them from the music world are looking for very rare, hard-to-find Cabernet Sauvignon. So we are constantly battling for allocations that provide us with enough inventory. Do you have many regulars? We certainly do. And they know their stuff. One of my favorites is actually a vegan who comes here to eat our fresh vegetables. I know it a steakhouse but we have great produce. I really have to be on my toes for those pairings and it is a welcome challenge. We also have a large number of locals who dine with us regularly. So, beef, beef and beef. We feature the top two percent of prime beef in the USA. In every cut you can imagine. Our shellfish is hugely popular and we feature fresh fish every day. What does Dan really like to sell? (Laughing) I always tell the staff that we are part thera- pist and part private detective. It can get interesting when you have a table with every possible food combination. Is it still fun? Absolutely. My dad used to say, 'If you aren't having fun, change jobs.' My longevity here shows that I still enjoy my evenings on the floor. In the middle of the shift you can do a lot of eye rolling, but at the end of the night it's totally worth it. We have a great team here and can always depend on one another. What do we need to change in the world of wine for the better? I wish the general public of diners didn't have to write one complaint about the quality of wine service in restaurants. The Southern Wine & Spirits/American Wine & Spirits Tasting Group: Dan Bailey, Sommelier, Mastro's Beverly Hills; Sean Prevatt, Sommelier, Mastro's Thousand Oaks; Laurie Sutton, Sommelier, Shutters; Dana Farner, consulting sommelier; Phillip Dunn, Wine Director, Spago; Micah Clark, Sommelier, Steak & Whiskey; Fred Dame, MS, VP/Prestige Accounts, American W&S; Jaimee Anderson, Sommelier, Cut.

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