Rising Star Chef Carlton McCoy of Sou'Wester - Biography

Washington, DC

November 2011

When Sommelier Carlton McCoy began a culinary arts course in high school, a career was the last thing on his mind. Turns out, he had a knack for foodservice. A scholarship to The Culinary Institute of America led McCoy to what became his real interest, wine and service. After acing his wine and spirits class, his instructor persuaded him to study wine in Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, and Tuscany.

He worked at Aquavit in New York City before opening Craft Steak in the Meatpacking District. Before moving to DC, McCoy worked at Per Se where the sommeliers were generous about sharing their knowledge. Along the way McCoy never quite lost his sense of adventure, and traveled everywhere from Japan to Italy. He soon settled down at his current home at The Mandarin Oriental in Washington, DC. He began at Cityzen with Chef Eric Ziebold, who catered his Asian-inflected cuisine to the wine rather than the other way around. His current residency at Sou'Wester is a comfortable, feel-good home for McCoy’s expertise.

McCoy achieved the advanced-level exam for the Court of Master Sommeliers and still spends his spare time traveling and populating his wine menu with newly-discovered gems. He’s one of a new breed of sommeliers who wears many hats, designing the cocktail menu for Sou’Wester when he’s not advising customers on their wine selections. He is also assistant manager. You would think all of this responsibility would go to his head, but in fact the exact opposite is true—his dedication to approachable service before ego trumps all. A graduate of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, McCoy was the honoree of CCAP’s annual event in 2010 as one of the program’s most accomplished front-of-the-house graduates.