A graduate of the world-famous Culinary Institute of America, Cole Parry started his restaurant career dressed in kitchen whites at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. His first job in the dining room was at then-three Michelin starred Restaurant Daniel in New York City. As a busser and food runner, Cole learned from legendary head sommelier Raj Vaidya, doing inventory in the restaurant’s extensive cellars. Now based at sister restaurant Café Boulud in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Cole is a floor sommelier under head somm Edouard Bourgeois. He is passionate about the wines of Western Australia, as well as NBA star Lebron James.
Follow Cole on instagram: @rrtrencavel
E: How has working in the hospitality industry influenced your life?
CP: The hospitality industry changed my life completely – I worked in restaurants from a young age and fell in love with the energy and passion of the people I worked with. Serving others is a wonderful thing, and I never tire of it.
E: What is the first thing you think of when meeting someone new?
CP: A big part of working on the restaurant floor is relating to people, and I find myself trying to do that whenever I meet someone new. People are all different and no approach will endear to everyone – I try to find avenues and inlets into their interests and personality. My best advice in this regard: “You may not enjoy baseball, but you should know how the game is played.”
E: Can you remember the most exciting bottle of wine you’ve sold to a guest?
CP: Exciting for me or for the guest? Haha, I’m always thrilled when guests really love the wine, but the most magnificent bottle I’ve ever opened was a 1979 Benmarl ‘Chancellor’ from Marlborough, NY. So rare and unknown, but absolutely stunning.
E: Describe your daily routine as a Sommelier.
CP: Half of the job is organization. Having a long and extensive list means nothing if you can’t provide the wine quickly and efficiently. I arrive and begin arranging the cellar, bringing bottles to the service station in the dining room. I also adjust the list to account for wines we have run out of. On Fridays we have staff training, so once a week we prepare a lesson and set up a tasting. When service starts it becomes all about taking care of our guests.
E: Do you believe in free will or destiny?
CP: Tough question – free will.
E: Instagram or Facebook?
CP: I’m trying to get better at using both…
E: Who is your favorite person in history? Why?
CP: Raymond-Roger Trencavel, Viscount of Carcassone. In the 12th and early 13th centuries he ran contrary to much of Europe in allowing Cathars, Jews and many others to live peacefully in his domaine. This attitude eventually led to his demise at the hands of Simon de Montfort and Pope Innocent III, but his legacy is one of tolerance and acceptance.
E: What is your favorite fashion item of all time?
CP: Overcoats! When I was in high school I worked as a cashier and saved my first month’s pay to buy a black Pierre Cardin topcoat. My family lived in Dubai, which is hot all year, so I didn’t get a chance to wear it often, but I still have it today. When I pop the collar in the winter I feel like I’m in a black and white film noir…
E: If you could have coffee with one person living or dead, who would it be?
CP: Archibald Butt. He is a cousin on my Mother’s side who died on the Titanic, but before that he was a social attache to Presidents Roosevelt and Taft. His diaries and letters tell some marvelous stories and I’d love to hear about his life in person.
E: What are the Pours on Tours?
CP: My boss, Edouard, came up with the “Pours on Tour” to shake up our selection of wines by the glass. Every two weeks we pick around 6-7 wines that are normally sold only by the bottle and offer them BTG. We pick according to a theme, a few examples include ‘Women Winemakers,’ ‘Deep Purple (Syrah/Shiraz),’ and ‘Cru Beaujolais.’
E: Mets or Yankees?
CP: Can’t it be both?
E: If you could enact one law, what would it be?
CP: For the sake of the readers in Britain, I would graciously enact a delightful law we enjoy here in the States: ‘Right turn on red,’ although I’m sure it would translate to ‘left turn on red’ in the UK!
E: What is your advice for young Sommeliers?
CP: The world of wine is vast and exciting, engage in it! Taste, ask questions, and keep notes. Remember that people come to restaurants to enjoy themselves. Working the floor means condensing all your knowledge and experience into maybe one or two minutes talking to a guest – so make it count.
E: In three words describe what living in New York is like for you.
CP: Thrilling and humbling.
E: You’re the best, Cole!