The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2014

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Page 48 of 132

48  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2014 BEHIND THE SCENES WITH FRED DAME Fred Dame: Phillip, what a career so far! First at Canlis, the famed Seattle restaurant, which has been open for 65 years. Now, here you sit in Beverly Hills at the legendary Spago, home of Chef Wolfgang Puck. It's only been open for 35 years. Nice work, my friend: 100 years of culinary history in one career! So what is the big difference between the two? Phillip Dunn: It's very different. First of all, the volume here at Spago is higher and 90 percent of the guests walk- ing through the door are VIPs. I've noticed that here in Los Angeles the diner who comes in pretty much knows what they want. They often have already decided on a region or varietal and then you have the opportunity to recommend wines from those parameters. At Canlis, it was always a free-for-all. OK, let's imagine that Jack Nicholson and Bill Gates walk through the door. Who gets the first table? Thanks for that one, Fred. I'd have to say that here at Spago, Jack is going to get the nod. I'm not sure if Bill would be recognized! I would know him immediately, having served him at Canlis. But this situation occurs for us hourly. I have to give a big shout-out to the team that runs the desk here for managing it so well. Funny you should mention that: Steve Ballmer was just in, having bought the Clippers. I remember the same experience during my floor days. Most of the problems we encountered were from other diners interrupting the VIPs. Being that we are here, we really don't have that much of a problem. Most everyone is very respectful. I can only Spago Wine Director Phillip Dunn (left), who holds an Advanced Sommelier diploma through the Court of Master Sommeliers, chats with Fred Dame, MS, VP Prestige Accounts, American Wine & Spirits (a division of SWS of California). A Conversation with Phillip Dunn WINE DIRECTOR, SPAGO BEVERLY HILLS photos by Cal Bingham

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