The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2016

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122  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2016 Choosing the hospitality industry as a career path was no coincidence for Parag Lalit. From a young age, he was always curious to meet new people and learn new languages. For him, the industry facilitates the possibility to visit new and different countries and wine regions. He began his culinary journey in France, but has also acquired professional experience in Canada, Vietnam and now the United States. Currently an Advanced Sommelier, Lalit is pur- suing the Court of Master Sommeliers' Master Sommelier certification. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, taking long bike rides and exploring different areas of the world. Sixteen—located on the 16th floor of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago— is a two Michelin star–rated restaurant serving French-influenced American cuisine. Despite its focus, Sixteen remains a melting pot of culinary cultures of the world. To complement this diversity, the wine list portrays the classic wine regions with a major focus on the Old World. Benchmark producers from the New World are also to be found in addition to even some of the more obscure wine regions, such as Canada, Slovenia, England, Georgia and Greece. The wine list is maintains at around 1,500 labels. TAKING INVENTORY WITH . . . When even the most expensive restaurant offers a wine selection for all budgets. I would never want a guest to feel uncomfortable in a restaurant because they can't afford a single bottle of wine. When the wine professional shows care in recommending a bottle that actually highlights the prefer- ences of the guest and not just an expensive one. Establishments that take hospitality to heart and are very welcom- ing—just as inviting someone home would start with a proper welcome! An establish- ment's capacity to recognize a returning customer by using their name or highlighting their likes/ dislikes— small details that make big differences. Product knowledge. Although it should be the norm, all too often establishments fail this aspect of service. A very basic rule is a simple glass of water. I find it abhorrent that too many establishments would only serve water once the customer has purchased a bottle. The indifference of a restaurant in accom- modating a small special request. It could be omit- ting something like pork or gluten. Food establish- ments taking the liberty of adding gratuity to the bill without the guest's authorization. Unfortunately, still very frequent. Lack of consistency. A dynamic enterprise is one that always innovates and offers something different every time the guest walks in. Professionals who talk down to their guest for their lack of knowledge in the field. A lack of modesty is a serious concern to me. THE "5" LIST PARAG LALIT'S TOP FIVE FAVES PARAG LALIT'S TOP PET PEEVES PARAG LALIT HEAD SOMMELIER, SIXTEEN, TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL & TOWER, CHICAGO by Jessie Birschbach photo by Rebecca Peplinski

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