The SOMM Journal

June / July 2017

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122 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2017 closing time THE SIDE BAR GROWING UP IN CHILEAN WINE COUNTRY, Fahara Zamorano found the inspiration for her love of wine in all its aspects. After receiving Diploma-level certification from the International Sommelier Guild in Los Angeles in 2013, she went to Chicago to works as a sommelier at Alinea. She moved back to L.A. in 2016 and wound up at Hollywood's most talked-about new restaurant: Chef Curtis Stone's destination butcher shop and dining hotspot Gwen. "I truly enjoy working for the Stone brothers [Curtis and Luke]," says Zamorano. "As much of an 'empire' as it may seem, it's actually a small family business and it's operated that way. Given that Gwen is a very atypi - cal steakhouse—one with a prix fixe menu—the wine list is also a little different. Our average guest is looking for wine that goes well with the big piece of meat they eyed walking in at the butcher shop or hanging in the asador, but we're not your typical steakhouse. We serve a tasting menu—prior to getting to the main protein, you will see an array of salad, pasta and fish. The menu is quite versatile, so going straight for that massive red is actually not the way to go at Gwen. Starting out with a rosé or fuller white is much more suited to the first half of the menu." At this high-ticket restaurant, excellent staff training is essential. "We do the staff training as a team," says Zamorano. "I've always been a fan of keeping trainings interactive and engaging as I always learn and retain more information that way. Hearing one person speak for too long gets boring after a while, regardless of how interesting the topic is. We do staff training once per week, which is mandatory. We also host a blind tasting group once a week that is voluntary, but anyone wanting to learn more about wine—back or front of house—is welcome." With a list that contains some deserving under-the-radar selections (such the stuning Scar of the Sea Pinot Noir that Zamorano introduced me to on my first visit) guest interaction is a must. "Our list focuses on smaller boutique producers, so many of our guests haven't heard of them before," explains the somm. "We aren't so much hand-selling as we are introducing people to producers that fit the criteria of their liking but which they haven't tried before. We're lucky to have a great team who are very wine-savvy, so if the guests can describe what they like or name a few wines they love, then we can introduce them to something new. That's what being a sommelier is all about." FAHARA ZAMORANO, SOMMELIER AT CHEF CURTIS STONE'S GWEN IN LOS ANGELES by David Gadd PHOTO: DAVID GADD "A Lifestyle Choice" Fahara Zamorano says . . . "I recently got to go to Australia and spent two weeks in as many wine regions as time would permit. Tasmania was an especially fascinating region with very good-quality wines. Unfortunately, most of them don't make it to the U.S., and the productions are tiny—there are a couple I'm trying to get imported, but it's not an easy process for the winery or the importer. As for future travel, I have plans on returning to Northern Italy this September; I may make my way over to Slovenia if possible. After that in the queue are Lebanon, Portugal and France." "We are very partial to acidity in my house, so high acid is a requirement, but the rest depends on the food and weather. I drink mostly crisp whites and bubbles at home because I rarely eat at home. Anything from Champagne, a Pet'Nat or a good cider usu- ally hits the spot after a long day at work or while doing house chores on a day off." "Wine is passion, from the vineyard to the corkscrew. It's what drew me into it and keeps me going every day. This wasn't a career choice, it was a lifestyle choice."

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