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By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Rajat Parr was born and raised in Calcutta, India. He grew up close to his cousin, who ran two restaurants in New Delhi. Although he had read about wine, he had never tasted it (wine production and consumption in India is relatively limited) until age 20, in 1993, with an uncle living in London.
“Wine is life, passion, joy.”
- Rajat Parr, Mina Group Wine Director
Parr graduated at the Culinary Institute of America in New York intending to become a chef and extended at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. He moved to San Francisco to become a food runner at Rubicon Restaurant, on encouragement from his wine instructor, after reading a magazine article about the restaurant’s celebrity-sommelier Larry Stone. Parr, who visited vineyards on his days off to learn more about wine, impressed Stone with his persistence and determination. Within six months he became assistant to Stone, who became his mentor. After three years, Parr became sommelier of the Fifth Floor in San Francisco in 1999. In 2003 Parr was appointed wine director for all of the Michael Mina restaurants throughout the United States.
In 2007 he, along with Michael Mina, were hired to develop and run a food and wine program by the developers of San Francisco’s Millenium Tower who called him “one of the most celebrated sommeliers in the world”. The restaurant, RN74, had a $4.5 million budget and opened in May 2009 with a 84 page wine list.
In October 2010, Parr in collaboration with Jordan Mackay published the book “Secrets of the Sommeliers” – which won the 2011 James Beard Cookbook Award – Beverage Category.
We met at RN74, San Francisco for our FoodieChap chat over a glass of wine – or two.
5 Tasty Questions with Rajat Parr
1. What is your earliest wine memory?
My earliest wine memory was definitely with my Uncle in England, drinking an ordinary bottle of bourdeax, something simple. That definitely started the quest to learn about wine. That was in ’93 and I think I was 20 years old then.
2. What is your most prized bottle of wine?
There’s a bottle of wine that I bought, that’s sitting in France still, it’s a bottle of 1978 La Tache.
3. In a second life you come around and you’re not a sommelier this time, what would you be?
A chef definitely. That was my goal in this life, but it didn’t happen, so it’s definitely going to happen in the next.
4. In the soundtrack to your life, pick an artist and a song to describe your journey.
U2 “I Will Follow”.
5. At your last supper, what will you eat and drink and who will be at the table?
Probably a nice roasted chicken, simple, nothing too crazy, a bottle of Thierry Allamande Cornas. Who will be with me, I’m not sure he’s going to drink or eat chicken, I’m not sure he eats, but His Holyness, the Dalai Lama. That would be my last supper for sure.
Liam: Five tasty answers, Rajat Parr, thank you!
Wine Notes: Chateau de Trinquevedel Tavel Rose 2010
The wine has aromas of strawberry and raspberry, and a rich and juicy palate that is backed with a firm backbone of vibrant acidity.
The only wine allowed in Tavel is Rose. This isn’t like any Rose.
Its a Rose that would pair well with Charcuterie to a Hamburger.
In the summer I love to drink it with Tomatoes.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)