As vibrant as its food scene may be, Houston isn't exactly known for a shared camaraderie or general collegiality among restaurant professionals.
Of all the major U.S. cities where I've lived and worked (including New York and Los Angeles), Houston has always struck this adoptive Texan as falling short in the solidarity-among-restaurateurs department.
The dog-eat-dog nature of our restaurant scene is part of what brings it to the cutting edge. After all, there's nothing more American than a healthy dose of intelligent competition. But we're behind the curve when it comes to the guest chef and guest sommelier phenomenon that has been embraced by our counterparts on either coast.
Last night, I stopped for a glass of Muscadet and a chat with Houston sommelier Vanessa Treviño Boyd at Philippe on Post Oak, where she is launching a new guest sommelier series tomorrow night. (As of last night, there was one spot open for the first installment of the series, an overview of Austria with Fred Jones of The Pass and Provisions.)
"There's just so much great talent in this city," said Treviño Boyd as we shared our passion for the wines of Domaine de la Pépière, Muscadet producer and a favorite among U.S. wine professionals and Natural wine lovers.
"I just wanted to give my guests a chance to meet some of the other great sommeliers" in Houston, she told me.
Even before its launch, the program has been met with open arms by guests and sommeliers alike, she noted. Tomorrow's seating is sure to sell out and reservations are already filling up for the events, which begin tomorrow and take place every other Tuesday (click here for Katharine Shilcutt's preview of the series).
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As much as I was craving for a raw Gulf oyster to go with my steely and citrus-driven glass of Muscadet (at $9 a glass, a price point that made it taste even better), I just loved the way that this soulful wine paired with Vanessa's desire to create a greater sense of community here.
In my view, a wine is only as groovy as the persons with whom you share it. And if Treviño Boyd's new series is a taste of things to come, I have a feeling that our community's wine scene is about to get its groove on...