Jamie Kaloustian is the wine and beverage director of the Michelin Star, award winning, Dovetail Restaurant in New York City. On this episode of In the Drink, Jamie talks with Joe about getting her start in the industry, following her passion for food and wine, and her role as Wine Director at a prestigious restaurant in New York City.
Beginning her New York City restaurant career about eight years ago, Jamie moved here without a job to live and work in New York City. Armed with a Bachelor’s in meteorology from Embry-Riddle in Florida, her next step was a career in restaurants to pay off the burgeoning student loans.
At the now shuttered Dona in Mid-town Manhattan, she waited tables until she had dinner at Eleven Madison Park and applied for a server position immediately after that amazing dinner. Needless to say, the experience of working with such a great chef and wine program was humbling. She left there as a captain to work at Daniel, as one of their bartenders. Again, a humbling experience. The cocktail program, wine list, cuisine and service were all exceptional and she learned a great deal about the industry.
Next step, she opened Lincoln Ristorante as a Captain. This experience was especially new to her, simply because she never opened a restaurant, in any state, and she never worked in a restaurant where the list focused mainly on Italian wines. As a result, she stayed almost two years before leaving for a Bartender job that eventually led to a sommelier position at Del Posto. She worked with Aaron as both a captain and a wine captain at Lincoln, and learned much about salesmanship and Italian wine. Thus, she credits the experience at Lincoln as a springboard to working at Del Posto.
Finally, when she heard Dovetail was looking for a Wine / Beverage Director, she took the plunge and decided that she wanted to write her own list in the city, after working alongside so many great sommeliers and their respective wine programs.
Originally from Rhode Island, she worked in restaurants toward the end of High School and throughout college (to include Florida). No matter what goals she was trying to achieve, Jamie always gravitated back to restaurant work, thanks to her passion for wine and creating cocktails. This program has been sponsored by Rolling Press.
“You learn so much when you start from the ground up. You’re not the new person. It was really fun to be a part of that.” [11:50]
“I think what we do is an art, not a science. I want everyone’s opinion, because ultimately they are the ones that eat at this restaurant as well.” [23:00]
— Jamie Kaloustian on In the Drink