Eat + Drink
Self-described “wine geek” Jamie Kutch left a career as a stock trader in 2005 to pursue his dream. Four years later, his Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs are on the menu at Gary Danko, French Laundry and Michael Mina.
Kutch’s success story combines destiny, determination and luck in the form of love. Growing up on Long Island, Kutch was always into hobbies: first tap dancing, then magic, then DJing. But success was first found on Wall Street, where he worked as a NASDAQ trader while cultivating his latest passion, wine. “I was closely following the progress of Pinot online, and when wine consumption in America surpassed beer around 2004, I decided to go for it,” says Kutch.
Photography by John Lee.
Chef James Syhabout’s timing is spot-on. Just as the recession has people questioning fine-dining, he’s redefined it with Commis, his tiny three-month-old restaurant set in his native Oakland. Commis’ food is four-star exquisite, but the prix-fixe menu stops at three courses. There are neither tablecloths nor pretensions. The open kitchen’s counter allows patrons to sit within feet of Syhabout and his small team, as they meticulously prepare California-fresh dishes that are rooted in classic technique, such as smoked sardines with green-tomato confit in rhubarb juice, or roasted chicken paired with porcinis emulsified with foie gras.
We’d heard that Jamie Lauren—the tattooed New York-born chef of Absinthe and former Top Chef contestant—has an obsession with shoes, but we had no idea that she is also really obsessed with hot dogs.
We have to move apartments, not altogether a bad thing, just a pain in the you-know-what. The biggest problem for me is relocating my bar, which over the years had swelled to more than 100 bottles.
My old apartment had a built-in bar/buffet, which was large enough to accommodate everything. The new place has nothing like this. It took me hours to box up all the bottles (11 cases worth), put them in the car and take them up the stairs. I did this alone to avoid any sort of complaining from the wife about how sprawling the bar has gotten.
When this product first came out last year (or a littler earlier), I was a bit skeptical. It's blended whisky—but under this new brand, it cuts through the opacity of a lot of Scotch whisky labels. The brand is called John, Mark & Robbo, representing a few guys who describes themselves as "three mates (two of us brothers), who passionately believe that decent quality whisky should be enjoyed and not worshipped."
I had never even seen or heard of them until a few months ago. Over Memorial Day weekend, I reunited with my parents and close family in Vermont. It was my cousin Pete’s graduation from Middlebury (my alma mater) and former President Clinton was the speaker—all worth a cross-country trip. As my father ceaselessly reminded me, it had been 12 years since my graduation, however, much to my relief, not much had changed. In fact, it felt like I’d never left.